Micheline Vidal's 31-1 longshot Choc Ice outfinished a pair of Andre Fabre trainees to win Sunday's E.P. Taylor Stakes (Can-IT) as French-based imports filled the top three finishing positions in the 1 1/4-mile turf event at Woodbine.
The E.P. Taylor marks the first group or graded stakes win for Choc Ice, who previously finished third in a pair of group I events in France and one group III. 3-year-old Choc Ice (Kahyasi--Sherkiya, by Goldneyev) improved her career record to three wins from 17 starts. The Robert J. Collet-trained filly was bred in Ireland by Lotdale Ltd.
Under jockey John Murtagh, Choc Ice saved ground while racing in 11th position while Free Vacation crawled on the front end through fractions of :26.33 and :51. Free Vacation maintained the lead after six furlongs in 1:15.21 but was headed by Abitara with over a quarter-mile to run. Choc Ice had improved to sixth as the new leader raced a mile in 1:39.46 and proceeded to close through the stretch, splitting horses a furlong out before holding off Volga in the final strides.
"We got a bad draw (post position 13), so I decided to jump out and get over to the rail, save a little ground," said Murtagh. "I got a great run in between horses and when I asked her, she went very well. She showed a good turn of foot and battled on well for the last half furlong right up to the line."
Choc Ice completed the distance in 2:03.01 on a "good" turf course while finishing a neck in front of Volga. Spring Oak came home third, followed by Nymphenburg, Only to You, Alexis, Abitara, Diadella, Free Vacation, Bristol Pistol, Keemoon, Bonnie's Prize, and Cayman Sunset.
Choc Ice returned $64.10, $28.60, and $14.30 and led a $576.30 exacta. Volga paid $9.50 and $6.60, with Spring Oak paying $4.90 to show. (Chart, Equibase