Arravale Wins E.P. Taylor for Canadian Team

(from Woodbine report)
Woodbine-based Arravale burst through along the rail to capture her second grade I event of 2006, taking Sunday's $1 million (Canadian) E.P. Taylor Stakes for fillies and mares at Woodbine.

In a stirring stretch drive, Arravale, under Jose Valdivia Jr., found a seam on the inside as the field straightened for home and sprinted away to win the 1 ¼-mile event by one length on Pattison Canadian International day.

The Kentucky-bred daughter of Arch, trained by Mac Benson and owned by Robert Costigan, won the Del Mar Oaks (gr. IT) Aug. 19.

"She was so relaxed, and I had so much horse," Valdivia said. "I know how long the stretch is here. I was never worried. Nine out of 10 times the hole is going to open up, and that's exactly what it did."

For Arravale, the victory is the fifth of her eight-start career. The 3-year-old filly came into the 51st E.P. Taylor on the heels of a second-place finish to Ready's Gal in the Canadian Stakes (Can-II)Sept. 17.

Fourth early but just 3 ½ lengths off tepid fractions of :26.10, :51.52 and 1:17.81, Valdivia and Arravale stormed to the front impressively and held sway in a time of 2:10.34 over a course rated 'soft.'

Barancella, ridden by Javier Castellano, finished second, a neck in front of Naissance Royale and Garrett Gomez. Favorite Red Bloom, with Michael Kinane in the irons, finished sixth.

Valdivia, aboard Arravale for the third consecutive time, praised the effort of the dark bay bred by Bruce Lunsford.

"I knew that, if she'd respond like she did at Del Mar, she'd be performing. It goes to shows what a great filly she is."

Benson, who recorded his first E.P. Taylor victory, knew last year's Alywow Stakes champion was tough.

"We don't have chance in this country to run on soft going and the Europeans, I thought, had a little bit of an edge on us," said the Hall of Fame conditioner. "She is a really, really good horse."

An emotional Costigan was equally pleased with the E.P. Taylor triumph. "It's a dream come true. This race has meant so much."

Costigan said he would allow Benson to decide if Arravale would run in the Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs.

"If she comes out of the race well, we'd certainly consider it," Costigan said.

Arravale, the third choice, returned $11.50, $6.20, $4.30, and teamed with French-bred Barancella ($16.70, $9) to complete a $233.30 exacta. Naissance Royale ($6.90) rounded out a $2,282 trifecta.

Ambitious Cat, third in the E.P. Taylor last year, finished fourth, followed by Latice, Red Bloom, Ready's Gal, Angara, Almerita, and Love Life. Aubonne scratched.

(Chart, Equibase)