TORONTO, October 15 — Mrs. Barbara M. Keller’s Blond Me emerged from the backfield and wore down late leader Kitten’s Roar to win the 61st running of the $500,000 E.P. Taylor Stakes (Grade 1) for fillies and mares featured on Sunday’s action-packed Pattison Canadian International undercard.
Jockey Oisin Murphy was aboard the Andrew Balding-trained mare Blond Me for his first Woodbine winning ride in the Taylor, which was contested over 1-1/4 miles on the world renowned turf course of the same name.
Rainha Da Bateria took over the lead from second favourite Quidura during the :26.72 first quarter with Kitten’s Roar advancing outside to improve to second on the way to the half in :52.20. Meanwhile, Blond Me sat outside of the Aidan O’Brien-trained sophomore filly Rain Goddess towards the back of the seven-horse field.
Rainha Da Bateria maintained the lead through three-quarters in 1:17.20 with Kitten’s Roar moving up on even terms turning for home. Kitten’s Roar took over command into the stretch hitting the mile mark in 1:41.93, but Blond Me rallied up late and battled past that foe despite drifting out down the lane to score the one-length victory in 2:08.08.
“It was, of course, a big wish of mine to come back and hopefully to win the race and ‘Blondie,’ as we call her, was good enough,” said Keller, who campaigned 2014 Taylor runner-up Odeliz.
The richest mare in the field with almost $780,000 banked in purses entering the race, the five-year-old daughter of Tamayuz and Holda had earned two Group 2 victories, with her latest success in the Betfred Middleton Stakes over 1-5/16 miles at York, Great Britian in May.
“You always get sick when you see the opposition because you think, ‘Oh my God, they’re so good.’ But, you know, her form this year in England was fabulous. She was second to Winter, on really bad ground. She beat Hydrangea, who was a subsequent Group 1 winner. So we knew that she could handle this ground.”
“We walked the track this morning,” said Anna Lisa Balding, wife of Blond Me’s trainer. “I think, as everyone knows, soft ground in Canada is very different from soft ground in the U.K., so we were very happy that she acted on it today.”
Kitten’s Roar held second for jockey Jose Ortiz, who was happy with her effort.
“She broke good," he said. "We went to the backside and she was second. We were going pretty slow, so I was in great position and when I asked her to go at the quarter pole she gave me everything she had. Kudos to the winner. She’s a great horse.”
Jockey Javier Castellano said his mount, Fourstar Crook, finished well in third, but ran out of turf.
“She gave me a good finish, but it was soft ground and she kind of struggled a little bit,” he noted. “She finally switched leads, but it was at the sixteenth and it was too late.”
Overlooked at odds of 8-1, Blond Me returned $18.90, $8.30 and $5.70 and fronted an 8-1 exacta with Kitten’s Joy ($6.40, $4) worth $137.90. Fourstar Crook ($4) completed an 8-1-2 trifecta of $372.05 for $1 and Rainha Da Bateria rounded out a $1 superfecta of 8-1-2-4 worth $829.25.
Nezwaah, the 5-2 slight favourite, finished fifth with Quidura and Rain Goddess rounding out the field. Sassy Little Lil and Puca were scratched.