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Grade 1 turf classics share the spotlight on star-stacked Sunday at Woodbine

October 15, 2020

TORONTO, October 15, 2020 – Seven fillies and mares will vie for top honours in the $600,000 E.P. Taylor Stakes (G1T), while eight starters chase top prize in the $300,000 Northern Dancer Turf Stakes (G1T), Sunday at Woodbine.

The 64th running of the E.P. Taylor, a 1 ¼-mile turf test for fillies & mares, three-year-olds and upward, is complemented by a trio of stakes events, including the Northern Dancer (formerly the Niagara Handicap and renamed the Northern Dancer in 2006), a 1 ½-mile grass engagement for three-year-olds and upward.

Sunday’s card will also see nine starters contest the $250,000 Nearctic (G2T), while eight hopefuls face off in the $100,000 Display Stakes.

Trainer Gail Cox has a trio of talented turfers taking up the Sam-Son Farm charge, namely, Rideforthecause in the E.P. Taylor, as well as Count Again and Say the Word in the Northern Dancer.

A four-year-old daughter of Candy Ride (ARG), Rideforthecause rolls into the E.P. Taylor off two straight scores, both of them contested at Woodbine.

After an allowance victory at 1 1/16 miles on the Toronto oval Inner Turf on August 1, the bay was back in the winner’s circle on September 12, winning the Canadian Stakes presented by the Japan Racing Association (G2) at the distance of about 1 1/8 miles on the E.P. Taylor Turf Course.

Sent off at 22-1, the second longest shot on the board, Rideforthecause, with jockey David Moran aboard, took the lead in mid-stretch and went on to a four-length score over mutuel favourite Cambier Parc.

“I always thought she was a very nice filly,” praised Cox. “I knew that she needed a distance of ground, and she never got to do that. A mile-and-a-sixteenth on our outer turf course isn’t that far. He [Moran] had never ridden her before and he said that she just did it as easy as could be. He was quite impressed.”

“I thought she was being overlooked [in the Canadian]. That’s all. I train her so I have a little different outlook. I thought she was being overlooked because it was such a perfect distance for her.”

Now, the Ontario-bred will go after her fifth win in what will be the 11th start of her career.

Cox, who campaigned Sam-Son’s El Tormenta to a 44-1 shocker in last year’s Ricoh Woodbine Mile (G1T), is hoping to add another graded crown to her list of accomplishments on Sunday.

“She has been doing really well this year. It seems like she has become a little more settled with age. She was, as a young horse, a bit of a handful. She was nervous, but she’s become way more settled. She’s doing great. I wouldn’t trade places with anyone. She’s training well and she looks good. I’m very happy with her.”

E.P. Taylor Stakes contender Rideforthecause breezing at Woodbine under jockey David Moran. (Michael Burns Photo)

Court Return, a four-year-old daughter of Court Vision, goes after her second (Eternal Search Stakes) added-money title and first graded triumph. Bred and owned by Ivan Dalos, the Ontario-bred is 3-2-1 from 11 career starts.

Etoile, from the stable of Chad Brown, will look to build off a second-place effort in the Dance Smartly Stakes (G2T) on August 15 at Woodbine. The four-year-old French-bred daughter of Siyouni has three wins and a pair of seconds from nine lifetime starts for the ownership group of Peter Brant, Mrs. M.V. Magnier, and Mrs. Paul Shanahan.Multiple graded stakes winner, four-year-old Elizabeth Way, goes for her third graded title. Trained by Roger Attfield, the daughter of Frankel won The Very One Stakes (G3T) and Nassau Stakes (G2T) this year. Owned by John McCormack, the chestnut is 3-2-2 from 12 career starts.

Pretty Point, trained by Patrick Gallagher, goes after her first stakes crown. The four-year-old daughter of Point of Entry launched her career with three starts at Woodbine before heading to California. She arrives at the Northern Dancer off a fifth in the Rodeo Stakes Drive (G1T) on September 26.

Secret Message, a five-year-old daughter of Hat Trick (JPN), seeks her seventh win in what will be the 19th start of the dark bay’s career. Trained by Graham Motion, the well-travelled dark bay mare won the 2019 running of the Nassau (G2T).

Bred and owned by Augustin Stable, Theodora B. aims for her third straight stakes score after taking the Dance Smartly (G2T) on August 15 at Woodbine, and the TVG Stakes on September 15 at Kentucky Downs. The daughter of Ghostzapper has a record of 6-5-3 from 18 lifetime starts.

The E.P. Taylor Stakes is the final event in Woodbine’s Ladies of the Lawn Series. At the conclusion of the series, the connections of the top three point-earners will receive $75,000 in bonuses ($50,000 for first, $15,000 for second, $10,000 for third). Elizabeth Way (18 points), Rideforthecause (10 points) and Theodora B. (10 points) are the top three point-earners to date. The inaugural winner of the 2019 Ladies of the Lawn Series was Starship Jubilee, Canada’s reigning Horse of the Year.

Flying Trapeze won the inaugural running of the E.P. Taylor Stakes (known as the Nettie Handicap until 1981) in 1956. Trainers Lou Cavalaris Jr., Frank Merrill Jr., and Maurice Zilber have won three editions of the race. Kitty Girl (1957, 1958) is the only two-time winner.

$600,000 E.P. Taylor Stakes (Grade 1) – Race 7
Post – Horse – Jockey – Trainer

1 – Rideforthecause – David Moran – Gail Cox

2 – Pretty Point – Luis Contreras – Patrick Gallagher

3 – Etoile – Rafael Hernandez – Chad Brown

4 – Theodora B. – Justin Stein – Michael Dickinson

5 – Court Return – Daisuke Fukumoto – Josie Carroll

6 – Secret Message – Kazushi Kimura – Graham Motion

7 – Elizabeth Way – Emma-Jayne Wilson – Roger Attfield


Gail Cox will look to net the stakes double with Rideforthecause’s stablemate Count Again in the Northern Dancer Turf Stakes.

The lightly raced five-year-old son of Awesome Again has been impressive over his six lifetime outings.

On September 19, the bay gelding, despite being heavily steadied into the far turn, drove to the front outside of the eighth-pole and secured a 1 ¼ length win in the Singspiel Stakes (G3T).

The final time for 1 ¼ miles over a “firm” E.P. Taylor Turf Couse was 2:00.67.

“He ran great,” praised Cox. “Again, it was exactly what he wanted to do, which is to go a distance. A mile-and-a-sixteenth was always a little short for him. So, the added distance… he was really good. He did win pretty easily.”

It was the first stakes engagement for Count Again, who Cox is counting on once again to come up big on the Woodbine grass.

“He’s a very nice horse. I know anyone that’s trained him has really liked him. He just had this and that which had bothered him, which led to him having some time off. He needed to get really good and comfortable. He seems to like training here. He does a fair amount of training on the dirt here, but he’s been happy here, and has come out of his races really well.”

Northern Dancer Turf Stakes contender Count Again with jockey Luis Contreras. (Michael Burns Photo)
Northern Dancer Turf Stakes contender Count Again with jockey Luis Contreras on the Woodbine backstretch. (Michael Burns Photo)

The third Sam-Son Farm homebred to see action on Sunday is Say the Word, a five-year-old son of More Than Ready.

Third to Count Again in the Singspiel, the dark bay gelding was sixth in the 2018 Queen’s Plate, going on to finish second in the turf Breeders’ Stakes, third jewel in the Canadian Triple Crown, in that same year.

The multiple graded stakes placed gelding, sporting a record of 4-2-4 from 24 career starts, is in search of his first stakes victory.

Cox believes Say the Word will relish the 1 ½-mile Northern Dancer distance.

“He was closing ground [in the Singspiel] and he didn’t have the easiest of trips. I think he’ll love this distance. He’s another one that we had to send away to run farther. And that worked out. But he needs the distance and he doesn’t like the Tapeta. He was originally set to run on it, but he just didn’t like it.”

As for similarities between her trio of stakes hopefuls, Cox only sees a pair of obvious connections.

“Besides liking to go long and liking the turf, they don’t really have anything in common. They’re pretty different horses. Most of the time there’s something that you’re usually worried about, but they are all coming into these races well.”

Graded stakes champ Admiralty Pier, who won last year’s Tampa Bay Stakes (G3T) at 21-1, will chase his sixth career victory in his 23rd start. Bred by Calumet Farm and owned by Hoolie Racing Stable and Bruce Lunsford, the son of English Channel finished second in both the Connaught Cup (G2T) and King Edward (G2T) before a sixth in the Ricoh Woodbine Mile on September 19.

Four-year-old ridgling Jungle Fighter, a four-year-old son of Animal Kingdom, will get his fourth shot at graded stakes glory having contested last year’s Ontario Derby (G3), and this year’s Seagram Cup (G3) and Singspiel (G3T). Trained by Michael Doyle for Stronach Stables, the Kentucky-bred is 3-3-1 from 10 starts.

Staghawk Stables’ five-year-old Nakamura has never finished lower than fifth in his 17 career starts. The four-time winner, who won three straight races in 2019, will be making his second straight start at Woodbine after finishing fourth in the Singspiel (G3T) on September 19.

Peace of Ekati, owned by Colebrook Farms and bred by Charles Fipke, has eight top-three finishes from 16 starts. Trained by Ashlee Brnjas, the five-year-old son of Tale of Ekati has finished second in his two previous starts. The Northern Dancer will be the chestnut gelding’s first graded stakes appearance.

Five-year-old Sir Sahib, trained by Kevin Attard, looks for his first win since May 18, 2019. The Stronach Stables silk bearer has a 2-4-7 mark from 20 outings, and arrives at the Northern Dancer off a runner-up performance in the Singspiel. The son of Fort Larned will be ridden by Justin Stein.

An Ontario-bred six-year-old son of Langfuhr, Woodbridge is 3-2-7 from 27 starts. The gelding, owned by the Estate of Gustav Schickedanz and Donald Howard, was fifth last time out in the Singspiel. The bay is trained by Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame inductee Michael Keogh.

Sam-Son has a record seven Northern Dancer trophies, including three straight scores from 2002-04. Full of Wonder kicked off the natural hat trick, followed by back-to-back wins by Strut the Stage.

Fans can watch and wager on all the action via First race post time on Sunday is set for 1:10 p.m.

$300,000 Northern Dancer Stakes (Grade 1) – Race 5
Post – Horse – Jockey – Trainer

1 – Say the Word – Emma-Jayne Wilson – Gail Cox

2 – Peace of Ekati – Daisuke Fukumoto – Ashlee Brnjas

3 – Sir Sahib – Justin Stein – Kevin Attard

4 – Jungle Fighter – Rafael Hernandez – Michael Doyle

5 – Nakamura – Kazushi Kimura – Graham Motion

6 – Woodbridge – Sahin Civaci – Michael Keogh

7 – Admiralty Pier – Steven Bahen – Barbara Minshall

8 – Count Again – Luis Contreras – Gail Cox

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