While a record field of 16 horses will compete in the $1.5 million Pattison Canadian International, it is far from the only huge race on a great card Sunday at Woodbine. Also part of the richest day of thoroughbred racing in Canada, will be the $1 million E.P. Taylor Stakes. Contested over 1 ¼ miles over Woodbine’s excellent turf course, the prestigious filly and mare races has attracted a loaded field of eleven. Despite the depth of quality in the Breeders’ Cup ‘Win and You’re In’ race, there is one filly in there who for stands above the rest to me, and her name is Mahbooba.
Listed as the 9-2, third choice on the morning line, Mahbooba is not only one of the most interesting fillies in the world; she is my strong selection to visit the winner’s circle on Sunday.
After getting her career off to a flying start on the turf last year in South Africa, including a win in the Group 1 Golden Slipper Stakes, Mahbooba took her show on the road for one of the finest trainers in the world, Michael de Kock. Now in this part of the world, we might not hear too much about racing in South Africa, but I’m here to tell you that horses that can win against the best over there can compete against the best anywhere in the world. Leaving South Africa, the Australian bred daughter of all-universe sire, Galileo, quickly showed her class on the synthetic surface of Meydan in Dubai.
First she just missed in the UAE 1000 Guineas Trial while carrying 137 pounds. She turned the tables on that loss with an easy win in the UAE 1000 Guineas a few weeks later. Keeping her good 2011 form going, Mahbooba finished a solid second to Khawlah in the UAE Oaks, and then third to that same rival and Master of Hounds in the UAE Derby. It should be noted that as a Southern Hemisphere 3-year-old she gave the winner 10 and 11 pounds respectively in each of those Dubai classics.
After a freshening, Mahbooba returned to turf racing with three races in the UK. In the first she finished third against the males, while just beaten half-a-length by Joshua Tree, the colt who will attempt to defend his crown in the Canadian International. Most recently, she scored over males in the Aqlaam Stakes by six easy lengths, three weeks ago at Newmarket.
Trained by de Kock, and to be ridden by world class rider, Jamie Spencer, clearly the now 4yo (by Southern Hemisphere standards) filly is in fine fettle, has been racing against top competition, and has proven to travel well.
My friend and the man behind the excellent Dubai Race Night website, Patrick Cummings further buoyed my hopes for Mahbooba in the E.P. Taylor this morning when he told me, "I know Mike de Kock is very happy with the way she is progressing. They think she is best between 10 and 12 furlongs, and expect her to race close to the action, so the draw in post two should suit her well. She's had her last four races against males and really loved the going at Newmarket last time. I think she will be dangerous."
Win, lose, or draw, do not expect to see Mahbooba in next month’s Breeders’ Cup. Her connections will bring her back to Europe, with a choice of a few rich races in Hong Kong among her possible goals before the end of 2011. That is too bad, because a filly of this quality would be a welcome addition at Churchill Downs. We’ll have to settle for watching her on Sunday in the E.P Taylor, a race I fully expect her to win.
Photo courtesy of Patrick Cummings