10/19/2003 11:00PM

Volga's persistence pays off in Taylor


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Maybe the third time was a charm for Volga when she won Sunday's E.P. Taylor Stakes.

She finished second by a neck at 6-1 in the 2001 E.P. Taylor, and third by two lengths as the even-money favorite last year.

Volga's first start in the Taylor was also her first appearance in North America, and her last for trainer Andre Fabre. She made her next 10 starts for trainer Christophe Clement, but after finishing fifth in the Oct. 5 WinStar Galaxy at Keeneland, she was turned over to Kiaran McLaughlin.

At 10-1 Sunday, Volga had a clean trip under her new rider, Richard Migliore, while others had a difficult time, particularly late in the race.

Tigertail had the most difficulty and was gobbling up ground when she finally shook loose.

Walzerkoenigin, the German filly who was the Taylor favorite off her second-place finish in the Flower Bowl, lacked room in the latter stages and finished fifth, beaten just 1 1/4 lengths.

"It was very disappointing," said Paul Harley, racing manager for Walzerkoenigin's owner, Gestuet Schlenderhan. "The jockey [Edgar Prado] apologized; he said he should have won it. He got himself boxed in."

The Taylor was the final outing for Walzerkoenigin, who is heading to Kentucky to be bred.

Volga also will be bred next year, but her owner said she could see action again before heading into retirement.

Rough week for Hi Dubai

Hi Dubai, who finished third, missed two days of training late last week with a bruised heel.

"Whether that made a difference, I don't know," said Ross Campbell, assistant to Hi Dubai's trainer, Saeed bin Suroor. "I thought she ran a great race. She has a big heart."

Campbell added that Hi Dubai pulled up a bit sore, according to her rider, Frankie Dettori.

McLaughlin wins $50K bonus

The timing of Volga's victory was particularly advantageous for McLaughlin, who picked up a $50,000 bonus available to a trainer who started horses in both the E.P. Taylor and Canadian International and earned the most points based on a 10-6-4-2-1 scale to the top five finishers.

Lunar Sovereign failed to pick up a point for McLaughlin, finishing sixth in the International. John Hammond and Mark Frostad, the only other trainers eligible for the bonus, also came up empty in the International.

The E.P. Taylor win was the first for McLaughlin but the second for Allen, whose Wandering Star won the 1996 running for trainer James Fanshawe.