10/14/2004 11:00PM

Two top locals get in shape for E.P. Taylor

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Inish Glora and Classic Stamp, who are leading local candidates for the Oct. 24 E.P. Taylor Stakes at Woodbine, both had their final major tune-ups on the turf training course here Friday morning.

The E.P. Taylor, a 1 1/4-mile turf race for fillies and mares that offers Grade 1 status and a purse of $750,000, is the companion feature to the Grade 1, $1.5 million Pattison Canadian International, a 1 1/2-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and upward.

Inish Glora, with regular rider Todd Kabel aboard, breezed a mile in 1:45.20, while Classic Stamp breezed six furlongs in 1:14.20 under her regular workmate, apprentice jockey Emma Wilson.

"That was all I wanted," said Mac Benson, who conditions Inish Glora for Bob Costigan. "I might blow her out a little next week, put a little sharp speed into her a few days before the race."

Classic Stamp had been scheduled to work on the E.P. Taylor turf course on Saturday, but with rain in the forecast, trainer Cliff Hopmans, elected not to wait.

"We went back to the training course, where she's always worked," said Hopmans, who caught Classic Stamp galloping out seven furlongs in 1:27.

"She worked extremely well," Hopmans added. "I could not be any happier with her."

Classic Stamp is not scheduled to work again before the Taylor.

"She's so dead-fit right now, and she runs well fresh," Hopmans said. "She's good to go."

Classic Stamp and Inish Glora are coming into the E.P. Taylor after running one-two in the Grade 2 Canadian Handicap over 1 1/8 miles on turf here Sept. 19.

Inish Glora, a 6-year-old who is Canada's reigning turf filly or mare champion, had finished ahead of Classic Stamp in their three previous encounters this season.

Classic Stamp had finished second to Inish Glora in the one-mile Nassau prep, third behind Inish Glora and shipper Ocean Drive in the 1 1/16-mile Nassau, and third behind probable Taylor entrant Mona Rose and runner-up Inish Glora in the 1 1/8-mile Dance Smartly.

"She's been a great mare," said Benson of Inish Glora. "She's not without her wear and tear, like any horse who races through her 6-year-old year."

Benson said Costigan has obtained a season to Gone West and will breed the mare in the spring.

Success in the E.P. Taylor Stakes would put the icing on the credentials of Inish Glora, a Grade 2 winner of 9 of 32 starts and $977,618.

"I think she's been a bit stronger mare this year," said Benson, noting that Inish Glora had gotten a late start to her 5-year-old campaign after suffering a serious pelvic injury while training in Florida.

Inish Glora will be making her third consecutive appearance in the E.P. Taylor, having finished sixth in 2002 and seventh last year.

But Benson said he believes Inish Glora's performance in the 2003 Taylor, where she was beaten 4 1/2 lengths, deserves an asterisk.

"She did something through the stretch," Benson said. "Turning into the stretch Todd had plenty of horse, and was in front. But in between the quarter pole and the three-sixteenths pole, she knuckled badly behind.

"I don't know if she slipped, but from that point on she was out of it. Still, she certainly wasn't disgraced."

While Inish Glora has yet to win going as far as 1 1/4 miles, Benson said he thinks her style can be a major asset in the E.P. Taylor.

"She's kind of more effective at shorter distances," Benson said. "But, being that [the Taylor] is a European-type race, we can take advantage of the tactical speed we have.

"You can't play their game - they're going to beat you every time. You've got to play the American game to beat them."

Classic Stamp, a 4-year-old, also will be seeking her first win at 1 1/4 miles but should relish the distance, based on her performance in the Canadian.

"With her style of running, I think that's going to be her cup of tea," Hopmans said.

Owned and bred by Bill Sorokolit, Classic Stamp closed smartly in the Canadian to defeat Inish Glora by a length under her regular rider, Patrick Husbands.

"She's kindly ratable," Hopmans said. "She can sit in behind the speed, but has tremendous tactical speed for a good half-mile or more run."

Hour of Justice pointed for Nearctic

Hour of Justice, a talented turf filly who has confined her activities to sprinting and middle-distance races, also worked on the turf training track Friday and should make her next start in the Grade 2, $250,000 Nearctic here International Day.

A 4-year-old owned by Stronach Stable and trained by Mike Keogh, Hour of Justice would be facing males for the first time in the Nearctic, a six-furlong turf handicap for which she has been assigned 116 pounds.

With exercise rider Paul O'Sullivan in the irons Friday, Hour of Justice worked six furlongs in 1:16.20.

"I was very happy," Keogh said. "I told him to start out nice and easy, and finish up strong. I caught her last quarter in 23 and change."

Don Valliere dies

Don Valliere, a former publisher, racetrack executive, and handicapping author, died Friday morning in Fort Erie at age 72.

Valliere, who founded the magazine Canadian Horse (now known as Canadian Thoroughbred) in the 1960's, moved on to Baltimore and was publisher and president of Turf and Sport Digest.

Valliere later worked at Woodbine in an executive capacity and went on the serve as general manager of Fort Erie Race Track.

A funeral service is scheduled for Monday at 11 a.m. at Newediuk Funeral Home, 2104 Kipling Avenue, Etobicoke.