Group 2 star Dream Peace, who was third in a three-way photo in last year's
Taylor Stakes, looks for a breakthrough in Sunday's renewal of the C$1
million prize at Woodbine. A French raider here 12 months ago, the well-bred
daughter of Dansili is now an emigre who resides in the Chad Brown barn. To
accomplish her mission, Dream Peace must fend off a formidable European invasion
spearheaded by her former compatriot Siyouma, England's Barefoot Lady and
Ireland's Princess Highway.
The E.P. Taylor serves as a "Win and You're In" event for the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf, to be held at this same 1 1/4-mile distance at Santa Anita.
Dream Peace was a consistent performer at three for trainer Robert Collet, capping her 2011 with a victory in the Group 2 Prix de la Nonette and her gallant near-miss at Woodbine. Fourth in the Group 3 Prix Allez France in her seasonal debut, she shipped halfway around the world to try males in the Group 1 Singapore Airlines International Cup on May 20, only to check in a subpar eighth.
Resurfacing at Saratoga, Dream Peace rallied for second behind Winter Memories in the Grade 1 Diana Stakes. She then made her first official start for Brown in the Grade 1 Flower Bowl Invitational, where she had her hind end knocked out from under her turning for home. Dream Peace did well to recover for third, beaten all of a half-length. The daughter of Truly a Dream, the 1994 E.P. Taylor winner, gets a key rider switch to Ramon Dominguez.
European shippers account for the bulk of the 13-horse field, as with the Grade 1 Canadian International later on the card, and Siyouma tops the quartet from France. The Francois Doumen filly has been holding her own against superb company this campaign, finishing third to future Group 1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe upsetter Solemia and Shareta in the Group 2 Prix Corrida, and third to Giofra and Elusive Kate in the Group 1 Falmouth. A close fifth to the world-class Snow Fairy in the Group 1 Prix Jean Romanet, Siyouma went on to score a career high in the Group 1 Sun Chariot, over an unlucky Elusive Kate. Regular rider Gerald Mosse comes in for the ride.
Group 3 Prix Vanteaux queen Trois Lunes exits a third in the August 21 Prix de la Nonette. The form of that Group 2 was boosted when fifth-placer Ridasiyna came back to romp in last Sunday's Group 1 Prix de l'Opera on the Arc undercard. The rest of the Gallic contingent includes Pagera, who beat Siyouma back in March and most recently landed the Group 3 Baden Racing Stuten-Preis, and the Freddie Head-trained Havant, who is rounding back into her smart juvenile form.
Barefoot Lady sprang a mild 7-1 upset in the Grade 2 Canadian Stakes, the
local prep on September 16, defeating E.P. Taylor rivals All Star Heart, Stars
to Shine, Kapitale and Moment of Majesty. The Richard Fahey pupil appeared a
notch below the best in Europe, however. Well beaten by both Dream Peace and
Siyouma, she must step up her game to turn the tables at Woodbine.
Dermot Weld, who knows how to plunder big events in North America, sends out Princess Highway. After disposing of eventual Group 1 Epsom Oaks winner Was in the Group 3 Blue Wind Stakes, the daughter of Street Cry crushed The Fugue in the Group 2 Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot. Princess Highway handled rain-softened ground that day, but not the deeper bog in the Group 1 Irish Oaks, where she slogged home for third. Off for nearly two months, she returned with a flat seventh in the Group 1 Prix Vermeille, but is likely to move up here with first-time Lasix.
German Group 3 victress Kapitale has been residing at Woodbine of late, like her stablemate Scalo in the Canadian International. A strong fourth in the Grade 1 Beverly D. in her belated reappearance, she was expected to do better in the Canadian, but didn't when a disappointing fourth. The Andreas Wohler trainee should appreciate the step up in trip for the E.P. Taylor, though.
Of the North Americans who were defeated in the Canadian, runner-up All Star Heart has the most to recommend her. The Ron McAnally mare has been admirably reliable, and was just nailed on the line in the Grade 2 John C. Mabee two starts back. The daughter of Arch, out of an Ascot Knight mare, ought to relish the opportunity to try 1 1/4 miles.
Fellow Southern California-based Vamo a Galupiar returns from a five-month layoff for Neil Drysdale. The former Chilean champion was along in time in the Grade 2 Santa Ana in March, but has not been seen since her sixth in the Grade 2 Santa Barbara. The Woodbine turf could suit the soft-ground performer better than Santa Anita's firm course.
Roger Attfield, whose Miss Keller surprised here last year, has another solid chance with Kissable. The royally-bred Danehill Dancer filly dominated the August 6 Waya at Saratoga and followed up with a third in the Grade 3 Glens Falls on Labor Day.
An automatic berth to the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint is available in the Grade
Stakes over six furlongs. Grade 2 Play the King hero Big Band Sound, a
non-threatening sixth to Wise Dan in the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile, rates a prime
contender on the cutback in trip.
"He's just training unbelievably well," trainer Daniel Vella said. "He's doing so good right now. He's a very good horse, one who shows up every time. In the Mile, the level of competition was tough. I think the top three horses (Wise Dan, Hunters Bay, Cityscape) are world-class at that distance. We think our horse is world-class up to seven furlongs. Six or seven (furlongs) are his best distances.
"I've had good luck in this race," added Vella, a four-time Nearctic winner. "That's the toughest part about being a trainer -- to get good horses in your barn. But we've got a good one in Big Band Sound. He's a lovely horse. He's a big, cocky guy, not mean, but one who likes to throw his weight around from time to time."
Former Canadian champion turf male Grand Adventure, fourth to Regally Ready in last year's Nearctic, finished fifth in the August 26 Play the King in his only start of 2012 and could take another step forward.
A trio of Europeans are entered, led by multiple Irish Group 3 heroine Fire Lily. The David Wachman filly boasts a victory over older male Gordon Lord Byron, winner of last Sunday's Group 1 Prix de la Foret. English Group 3 victress Night Carnation and globetrotting Spanish champion As de Trebol also lend international cache to the Nearctic.
Others in the line-up are recent allowance rompers Next Question and Bear Tough Tiger; multiple stakes-winning sophomore Hammers Terror; veteran campaigners Artic Fern and Stormy Rush; and Super Chunky, a barnstorming third in the Pennsylvania Governor's Cup two back.
The Grade 3, C$150,000 Durham Cup, at 1 1/8 Polytrack miles, kicks off the stakes action. City Wolf, winless since his victory in this race a year ago, will try to defend his title against five challengers -- Vertiformer, fourth in the Grade 3 Arlington Handicap and last in the Grade 1 Arlington Million in his last pair; James Street and Alpha Bettor, the respective top two in an allowance prep; Delegation, third to Big Band Sound in the Play the King prior to a five-length allowance conquest; and Mobilizer.