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2020 E.P. Taylor Stakes Day

horse racing
Jockey Rafael Hernandez aboard Etoile after winning the E.P. Taylor Stakes
Date: 10/18/2020

Mid to late October at Woodbine traditionally includes the Pattison Canadian International (G1), but due to global pandemic related travel restrictions, the race will not be run in 2020. The $600,000 E.P. Taylor Stakes (G1) for older fillies and mares going 1 1/4 miles on the turf. is usually the undercard feature on International day but this year takes top billing. Thankfully the originally forecasted rain held off until the end of the card, but it was very dark and overcast on Sunday with a high of 14 C (57 F) with the E.P. Taylor Turf Course rated "good", but with a GoingStick reading of 10.9, would be called "good-to-firm" in Europe.

Three horses were sent off at identical favorite odds of 5-2 with Rideforthecause officially designated the favorite in the field of 7 off her win in the Canadian Stakes (G2), the main local prep for this race. Her co-favorites included Etoile, a close second in the Dance Smartly (G2), and Theodora B., winner of the Dance Smartly (G2) and then the TVG Stakes at Kentucky Downs.
horse racing
Etoile leads down the stretch

Jockey Justin Stein sent Theodora B. to the lead on the clubhouse turn through fractions of 26.44, 51.04, 1:15.50, and 1:38.68 while pressed by 6-1 Elizabeth Way and stalked by Etoile. Turnng for home Theodora B. tired allowing Etoile to open up a 2 length lead midstretch through 9f in 1:50.49. Kept to task by jockey Rafael Hernandez, Etoile was all out to hold off late-closing 42-1 longest shot Court Return by a neck in 2:03.12. It was another 2 lengths back to 13-2 Secret Message third.
horse racing

Pgm  Horse              Jockey            Win   Place  Show
 3   Etoile             Hernandez        7.00    3.60  3.40
 5   Court Return       Fukumoto                28.90 11.00
 6   Secret Message     Kimura                         5.50

Winning Time:  2:03.12

$1 Exacta 3-5               102.80
$2 Trifecta 3-5-6           895.00
$2 Superfecta 3-5-6-1     3,429.70
Results chart

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Etoile in the winner's circle. Winning jockey Rafael Hernandez said, "It was a good trip. I called Chad (Brown, trainer) this morning and he told me, 'Raffi, try to get a good trip like last time. Just make sure you clear down the stretch.' He told me he'd been working the horse a few times and he put her outside of other horses, and she'd be finishing great.”

Right: Etoile heads back to the barn after the race.

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Etoile walks over before the race.

Right: Etoile in the post parade. Hernandez added, "I heard that other horse coming late but I wish she was coming closer. It was too far out so my horse couldn't see. That's why I switched the whip to the left, to try to get her out and get her attention. But we did it."

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Second place finisher Court Return in the post parade. The Josie Carroll trainee improved her record to 2 wins, 4 seconds, and 1 third in 12 starts, earning $248,287 for owner-breeder Ivan Dalos (Tall Oaks Farm).

Right: Third place finisher Secret Message walks over before the race. The Graham Motion trainee improved her record to 6 wins, 2 seconds, and 2 thirds in 19 starts, earning $495,913 for owners Madaket Stables, Heider Family Stables, ERJ Racing, Elayne Stables, and Steven Bouchey.

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Fourth place finisher and beaten favorite Rideforthecause returns after the race. The Gail Cox trainee has a record of 4 wins, 0 seconds, and 1 third in 11 starts, earning $291,226 for owner-breeder Sam-Son Farm.

Right: The trophy presentation for the E.P. Taylor Stakes.

Say the Word wins the Northner Dancer Turf.
Kicking off the stakes quartet was the $300,000 Northern Dancer Turf Stakes presented by Pattison (G1) for older horses going 1 1/2 miles, traditionally the main local prep for the Canadian International which was cancelled this year. Admiralty Pier was sent off as the 2-1 favorite in the field of 8 off his 6th place finish in the Woodbine Mile (G1) after finishing 2nd in the King Edward (G2). In to challenge him included 3-1 second choice Count Again, winner of the Singspiel (G3), and 9-2 third choice Nakamura, 4th in the Singspiel.

Jockey Steven Bahen sent Admiralty Pier to the lead first time by through fractions of 25.25, 51.57, 1:17.23, 1:41.97, and 2:05.54 while pressed by 34-1 longest shot Peace of Ekati and stalked by 12-1 Jungle Fighter. Admiralty Pier continued to lead to midstretch through 11f in 2:17.38 but 6-1 Say the Word, last early under Emma-Jayne Wilson, came out 4 wide for room and rallied to win by a length over 11-2 fourth choice Sir Sahib in 2:29.87. It wa another 1 1/4 lengths back to favorite and pacesetter Admiralty Pier third.

Results Chart

Left: Say the Word in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Gail Cox said, "I think this horse kind of likes to know the people that he's with, so he's not one that's easy to shift around all the time. He also loves this turf course and he loved the distance. Last year, he was sent to me and we ran him on the Tapeta, and it was not to his liking."

Right: Say the Word heads back to the barn after the race.

Left: Say the Word behind the starting gate. Winning jockey Emma-Jayne Wilson said, "The first time I rode him, Gail let me know that Junior Alvarado from Saratoga had said that he was funny with his mouth, he could be a little sensitive and to trip him [out] in a certain sort of way. Last time, we got the one-hole going 1 1/4, and I just got shuffled back. It took me a bit to just kind of get on the same page with him last time, being as sensitive as he was. I mean, he ran well, he ran third, but he was coming on end. So today, I was more confident with him, more ground and I knew where the line was with him for my hands and give and take. He settled for me beautifully; I literally just held the mane for pretty much the first mile and a quarter. Then as I gathered him up, I knew...I just knew. He was gaining on them last time and I just knew when he straightened, he was already in flight and it was going to be tough to beat him.”

Right: Say the Word returns after the race.

Left: Second place finisher Sir Sahib in the post parade. The Kevin Attard trainee imprvoed his record to 2 wins, 5 seconds, and 7 thirds in 21 starts, earning $248,607 for owner-breeder Stronach Stables.

Right: Third place finisher and beaten favorite Admiralty Pier leads shortly after the start. The Barbara Minshall trainee improved his record to 5 wins, 3 seconds, and 3 thirds in 23 starts, earning $354,027 for owners Hoolie Racing Stable and Bruce Lunsford.

The horses break from the gate for the Northern Dancer Turf.

horse racing
Silent Poet (outside) wins the Nearctic Stakes (G2)

Thee $250,000 Nearctic Stakes (G2) featured a field of 8 older horses sprinting 6 furlongs on the turf. Connaught Cup (G2) winner and King Edward (G2) runner-up Silent Poet was sent off as the 8-5 favorite over 3-1 Kanthaka, 2nd in the Jaipur (G1) before finishing 5th in the Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint (G3), and 5-1 Olympic Runner, 4th in the Woodbine Mile (G1) after finishing 2nd in the Vigil (G3)..

Jockey Justin Stein sent favorite Silent Poet to the lead and he set fractions of 23.65 and 46.16 while pressed by 15-1 City Boy and stalked by 8-1 Blind Ambition and Kanthaka. Turning for home, Silent Poet continued to lead through 5f in 57.04, and held off City Boy to win by 1/2 a length in 1:08.57. It was another 3/4 length back to Kanthaka third.

Results chart

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Silent Poet in the winner's circle as jockey Justin Stein does a flying dismount. Stein said, "He just leaves the gate so quick. He hits his stride right away. With a horse like that you get position and just slow him down, save as much horse as you can, and he does the rest. He loves his job, and when you ask him to run, he just gives you everything. He tows you down the lane."

Right: Silent Poet heads back to the barn after the race. The win marks trainer Nick Gonzalez' first stakes win since losing his wife Martha to cancer. Stein added, "It has a lot of meaning. People watching on the outside might not understand, but the family here, the community at Woodbine, I'm sure they were cheering big for this horse for reasons that we all know."

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Second place finisher City Boy returns after the race. The Michael Keogh trainee improved his record to 3 wins, 8 seconds, and 3 thirds in 21 starts, earning $380,062 for owners The Estate of Gustav Schickedanz and Donald Howard.

Right: Third place finisher Kanthaka walks over before the race. The Graham Motion trainee improved his record to 3 wins, 2 seconds, and 4 thirds in 14 starts, earning $440,703 for owner West Point Thoroughbreds.

horse racing
Helium wins the Display Stakes

Closing out the stakes action was the $100,000 Display Stakes for 2-year-olds sprinting 7 furlongs on the Tapeta main track. Helium was sent off as the 7-5 favorite in the field of 7 off his debut win on September 27, over 8-5 Maclean's Posse, a debut winner on August 29, and 5-1 Gospel Way, 4th in the Soaring Free after finishing 3rd in the Victoria Stakes.

7-1 Souper Classy and Maclean's Posse battled for the lead down the backstretch and around the turn through fractions of 23.64 and 46.40 while stalked by Gospel Way. Turning for home, Souper Classy tired badly as Helium, 4th early under Emma-Jayne Wilson, swept to the lead through 3/4 in 1:10.27. Keptt to task by Wilson, Helium drew off to win by 4 1/4 lengths over Gospel Way in 1:22.62. It was a neck back to 57-1 longest shot Decimator third.

Results chart

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Helium in the winner's circle. Winning jockey Emma-Jayne Wilson said, "First time he ran, we wanted to just get his legs and come running. He was up near the point and when I asked him to quicken, he quickened. So today, I was pretty confident. They set some decent fractions in front of him and he wasn't fazed. Even the horse on the outside moved up and he was like 'Oh, can I go now?' I said 'No, we'll just wait.' And sure enough, when I pulled the trigger -- you've heard this said time and time again when you're standing in this winner's enclosure...when you pull the trigger and they go, they're good horses. Well, that's what got me here today."

Right: Helium in the post parade. Wilson added, "We talked about all the horses that we have, you know there's different ability levels and different competency levels and trainers are trying to balance that and make it work. But when you've got a horse that has the ability and the competency, they win stakes and they go on to do great things."

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