09/26/2002 11:00PM

Two new threats in E.P. Taylor


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - European-based 3-year-old fillies have dominated the E.P. Taylor Stakes, which offers a record purse of $750,000 - up from $500,000 last year - as the supporting feature to the Canadian International here Sunday.

Last year's renewal of the Grade 1 Taylor was a prime example as Choc Ice, Volga, and Spring Oak all came from France and swept the top three spots in the 1 1/4-mile turf race for fillies and mares.

Choc Ice and Volga remain obvious dangers here Sunday while returning at age 4, but two English fillies, Fraulein and Alasha, will try to keep the 3-year-olds' dominance intact in a field of six.

Owned by Cliveden Stud and trained by Edward Dunlop, Fraulein enters the Taylor off a pair of strong efforts in listed stakes company, having finished second at Ascot over a mile July 26 and first at Salisbury over 1 1/4 miles Aug. 14.

Fraulein also turned in strong efforts in two earlier Group 2 stakes, the Ribblesdale at Ascot and the Pretty Polly at the Curragh.

In the June 20 Ribblesdale at 1 1/2 miles, Fraulein closed from last in a field of 15 and was vying for the lead two furlongs out before coming up two lengths short and finishing fourth. In the June 29 Pretty Polly, she was beaten 1 1/2 lengths as the third-place finisher over 1 1/4 miles.

Assistant trainer Peter Boothman, who arrived here with Fraulein on Monday, said Fraulein was unlucky when she finished third of five in a listed stakes at Newmarket June 1 over 1 1/4 miles.

Regarding a potential lack of pace in the Taylor, he said: "She usually gets covered up and finishes with a flourish. But in a small field, it probably won't matter.

"Her jockeys all think a mile and a quarter is her best trip."

Alasha, owned by the Aga Khan and trained by Michael Stoute, is coming off a listed win over one mile at Bath Aug. 18. Her best career effort also came at a mile, when she was beaten just a half-length as the third-place finisher in a 17-horse field for the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket on May 5.

"She came with a terrific run, right from the back," said assistant trainer Jim Scott. "She found a lot of trouble; she didn't have a good passageway at all."

Scott seems unfazed by the fact that Alasha will be making her first start beyond a mile in the Taylor.

"I don't think that will be any problem," he said. "It always looked as though she'd get farther."

Both Fraulein and Alasha will be first-time Lasix users Sunday.

Choc Ice, still based in France and trained by Robert Collet, has raced just three times this year and won her latest, the listed Prix de Boulogne over 1 1/4 miles at Longchamp on Sept. 3.

Volga went to Christophe Clement in New York following last year's Taylor and also has started three times in 2002. Jerry Bailey will take over aboard Volga, who should be favored off her closing fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Beverly D over 1 3/16 miles at Arlington in her last start Aug. 17.

Nadia, also 4 years old, is trained in California by Neil Drysdale and will be making her second North American appearance after losing an allowance race at Del Mar July 25.

"We felt she just didn't care for the hard grass," said Drysdale. "She's done very well since then."

Nadia would certainly be tough if able to duplicate her French form of last year, which saw her win the Group 1 Prix Saint Alary and finish second to Aquarelliste in the Group 1 Prix de Diane.

Rounding out the field is outsider Inish Glora, who is based at Vancouver's Hastings Park.

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