Clement duo leads field of 10 for G1 E.P. Taylor at Woodbine

Clement duo leads field of 10 for G1 E.P. Taylor at Woodbine
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire

Ten fillies and mares, including Christophe Clement trainees La Dragontea (GB) and Mutamakina (GB), will vie for top honors in the Grade 1 $600,000 E.P. Taylor Stakes, while 10 starters chase top prize in the $250,000 Nearctic Stakes (G2), Sunday at Woodbine. 

The E.P. Taylor, a 1 1/4-mile turf test for fillies & mares, 3-year-olds and upward, is complemented by the Nearctic, a six-furlong grass engagement for 3-year-olds and upward.

Conditioner Christophe Clement will be represented by a pair of top contenders in the form of La Dragontea and Mutamakina.

A four-year-old daughter of Lope de Vega-La Concorde, La Dragontea will make her second straight start at Woodbine. Bred by Bartisan Racing Ltd., the dark bay took the Canadian Stakes (G2) on Sept. 18, fending off a stiff challenge at the stretch call to win the 1 1/8-mile turf race by a length over Court Return.

“I think she ran very well,” said Clement. “(Joel) Rosario was very confident, and she was very impressive. She’s been improving all year long.” 

It was the fourth win from 12 starts for the Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and Rebecca Hillen-owned mare.

Since arriving in North America, La Dragontea has recorded a mark of 3-0-0 from five starts.

“She had two wins in New York. She ran in the stakes race (fourth in the Robert G. Dick Memorial (G3), on July 10) at Delaware and she did not get the best race scenario. She’s been a nice filly and she’s improving. It’s exciting to have her. Her works have been good, and I just hope that the turf is not too soft. I don’t mind it soft, just not too soft because it is always a bit extreme.” 

Mutamakina, a five-year-old daughter of Nathaniel-Joshua’s Princess, also comes into the E.P. Taylor off a winning effort at Woodbine.

The bay mare held on for a half-length score in the Dance Smartly Stakes (G2) on Aug. 22, marking her fourth career win and second graded tally (she won the Long Island Stakes (G3)at Aqueduct last November).

“She’s a good filly too,” offered Clement. “She’s trained very well. Her last two works in New York have been good. Two weeks ago, she worked with Gufo, my good colt, and she worked as well as he did. And then I sent her out on her own with (jockey) Dylan Davis. She worked very well again. Both fillies are very sound, they look great. For me, as a trainer, it is very exciting.”

Bred in Britain by Widgham Stud, Mutamakina is owned by Al Shiraa'aa Farms.  

Clement, who has enjoyed great success at Woodbine over the years, including a Pattison Canadian International triumph with Relaxed Gesture in 2005, is looking to add an E.P. Taylor title to his résumé.

“I’ve been lucky at Woodbine, but never in the E.P. Taylor. Hopefully, we can change that luck on Sunday.”

Standing in the way is an accomplished group of turfers, including Court Return, a five-year-old daughter of Court Vision, who brings a mark of 2-6-1 from 19 races into Sunday’s race. Bred and owned by Ivan Dalos, the Ontario-bred finished second to La Dragontea in the Canadian. The bay is trained by Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame inductee Josie Carroll.

Etoile, from the stable of Chad Brown, will look to win consecutive runnings of the E.P. Taylor. Last year, the five-year-old French-bred daughter of Siyouni finished second in the Grade 2 Dance Smartly before her E.P. Taylor score. Owned by Peter Brant, Mrs. M.V. Magnier, and Mrs. Paul Shanahan, the bay mare, 4-3-0 from 12 career starts, once again finished second in the Dance Smartly. 

Brown also sends out Kalifornia Queen (GER), a four-year-old daughter of Lope de Vega (IRE) and Great Island, a five-year-old daughter of Scat Daddy. Kalifornia Queen (3-2-2 from 12 starts) was second in the Grade 3 Matchmaker this July, a race won by Great Island (4-2-2 from eight starts).

Trainer Roger Varian sends out Waliyak (FR), a four-year-old daughter of Le Havre, who has a record of 4-5-3 from 14 starts. In her latest effort, the dark bay, owned by Fawzi Abdulla Nass, won the Prix de Bertrand Tarragon (G3) on Sept. 17.

Family Way (4-1-2 from 11 starts), a four-year-old daughter of Uncle Mo, Merveilleux (4-3-2 from 15 starts), a four-year-old daughter of Paynter, and Keyflower (FR, 2-2-2 from eight starts), a three-year-old daughter of Kheleyf, complete the field. 

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.

The E.P. Taylor is the final event in Woodbine’s Ladies of the Lawn Series.

Launched in 2019, Woodbine’s Ladies of the Lawn is a points-based bonus series that includes three premier turf races for fillies and mares. The owner of the horse who has accumulated the most points upon the conclusion of the three races will receive a $50,000 bonus, while the owner whose horse has accumulated the second and third most points will receive a $15,000 and $10,000 bonus, respectively. 

The Ladies of the Lawn Series began on Aug. 22, with the Dance Smartly Stakes, followed by the Canadian Stakes on Sept. 18. The inaugural winner of the 2019 Ladies of the Lawn Series was Starship Jubilee, Canada’s reigning Horse of the Year. 

Court Return, La Dragontea and Mutamakina share top spot with 10 points each. Merveilleux (8 points) and Etoile (7 points) are next.

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