It’s a pretty light day today on the graded stakes front but Sunday makes up for it with a big day of action, particularly at Woodbine. Unusually, all three races we are looking at today are on turf and, in the case of Woodbine, this has provided the added attraction of plenty of European competition to the home team.
We start with the one grade 1 event that does take place today, Keeneland’s QEII Challenge Cup for three year old fillies over a mile and an eighth, worth $500,000. This is a cracking contest that will go a long way towards determining who is at the top of the three year old turf filly tree.
In a top quality race, the four that stand out are Catch A Glimpse, On Leave, Time And Motion and Harmonize. It looked like Catch A Glimpse was going to be the standout in this division but was then beaten by Time And Motion at Saratoga while Harmonize was being an impressive winner of the Del Mar Oaks.
This looks a fascinating race to watch and I think we will learn a lot. One has to presume that Catch A Glimpse will make the running and she is notoriously difficult to pass so expect the opposition to play their cards late and not get involved in a protracted duel. On Leave may represent a bit of value at the Morning Line price of 5/1.
Now we head to Woodbine’s valuable Sunday card and we start with the EP Taylor, a grade one event for three year old and up fillies and mares over a mile and a quarter of the turf track. 13 runners face the starter for this prestigious race with 5 of these from Europe out to uphold the strong European level of success with seven wins in the last ten renewals.
The great Irish trainer, Aiden O’Brien, has been carrying all before him this year and added another grade 1 to his resume on Saturday at Ascot. Here he runs Best In The World, a full sister to Found, who won the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and was second in the Champion Stakes. She may not quite live up to her name but she is very capable and will no doubt give a good account under the great Ryan Moore.
This looks a really competitive race and virtually impossible to quantify and compare the form. The European contingent are all good without being from the very top drawer so it will be interesting to see how the home contingent will fare.
Finally we move on to the feature race, the Canadian International, for three years old and up over a mile and a half and worth a cool $1m. All eyes will be on the Aiden O’Brien trained Idaho as his rider, Ryan Moore, will be looking for his fourth win in this race in a row.
Idaho is a very talented horse with a grade 2 to his name and many places in the highest grade but he has yet to taste success at the highest level. He has also got to come back from a fall last time out when odds on for the St Leger.
The Queen is represented by the admirably consistent Dartmouth. He won at the Royal Ascot meeting and had a nice prep run at Newbury. He will no doubt run well but whether he will be good enough on the day is a moot point.
Best of the home contingent may be The Pizza Man. He won the traditional prep race, The Northern Dancer, and runs the course well.