TORONTO, October 8, 2023 – Fev Rover (IRE), rebounding from an indifferent last-out effort here in the Canadian Stakes, rebounded in a big way to score by 2 ¼ lengths under jockey Javier Castellano in Sunday’s $750,000 E.P. Taylor Stakes at Woodbine.
The E.P. Taylor (G1T), a 1 ¼ mile race for fillies and mares, attracted a field of 10 and was contested over a turf course rated “good.”
Fev Rover’s victory, while convincing, was accomplished in far from routine fashion. Breaking from the No. 1 post for the fourth time in succession, the 5-year-old went to the front and was pressed by longshot Rocky Sky (IRE) through a quarter in :25.66 and a half in :50.29.
Heading into the far turn, Rocky Sky spurted to the front and Skims (GB), who had been stalking in third, moved into second place.
Fev Rover, meanwhile, had dropped back to third, 2 ½ lengths off the lead, as they raced through six furlongs in 1:14.30.
Castellano then switched Fev Rover off the rail and outside the leaders turning for home, however, the mare re-rallied to lead by two lengths at the furlong marker and continued to the wire unchallenged while finishing in 2:04.20 for owner Tracy Farmer and trainer Mark Casse.
With the Moonlight, invading from the UK for the powerful team of owner/breeder Godolphin and trainer Charlie Appleby, kept tabs on the leaders from fourth place and finished well without seriously threatening the winner as the 5-2 second choice.
Moira, coming off a 6 ¼-length score here in the 1 1/8-mile Canadian (G2T), raced in the second flight from much of the race before launching a looping wide move which carried her into serious contention coming for home.
But the Ontario-bred, guided to 2022 Sovereign Awards as Canada’s Horse of the Year and champion 3-year-old filly by trainer Kevin Attard, failed to sustain her run and checked in 1 ¾ lengths behind the runner-up as the 7-5 choice.
Skims ended another 3 ¼ lengths back in fourth place and was followed by Kalifornia Queen (GER), Aspen Grove (IRE), Amazing Grace (GER), Atomic Blonde (GER), Consumer Spending and Rocky Sky.
Fev Rover returned $10.10 as the third choice.
The E.P. Taylor was the second Grade 1 victory for Fev Rover, a 5-year-old who had first achieved that distinction two starts back in the Beverly D. over 1 3/16 miles of “good” going at Colonial Downs.
Fev Rover, who began her career in England, has now won four of her eight starts, also including two Grade 2 victories, since debuting for her current connections here last summer.
Casse had said prior to the E.P. Taylor that the race was part of a master plan which was designed to climax in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G1), which will be run this year at Santa Anita on November 4.
Bill Tallon, for Woodbine Communications
Big-time performance from Big Invasion in Grade 2 Nearctic
TORONTO, October 8, 2023 – Big Invasion, who had been entered in Sunday’s Nearctic (G2T) after being programmed for Saturday’s Belmont Turf Sprint, left New York for Woodbine in search of firmer going.
And while the turf here ended up being listed as “yielding,” downgraded following some afternoon rains, Big Invasion appeared to relish the footing as he rallied under jockey Dylan Davis to prevail by a head in the $250,000 sprint for 3-year-olds and upward.
“He handled the ground well, that was no question,” said Davis, who had picked up the mount on Big Invasion for trainer Christophe Clement. “I had to settle on into the two-path into the turn and back out. He responded great for us and fought tooth and nail to the wire. I love him. I’ve been watching him all year round in New York and in Florida, he’s a nice, big, strong horse.”
Big Invasion was sitting seventh early as Masen (GB) led through a quarter mile in :22.32, pressed to his inside by Remuda, and began to improve his position as that pair reached the half in :45.33.
Looming into serious contention as the field turned for home and the front-runners began to falter, Big Invasion was closing in on surprise 104-1 shot leader Rockcrest with a furlong remaining and outlasted a plethora of closers to reach the wire in 1:11.31 and return $9.60 as the lukewarm choice.
Lucky Score and Ice Chocolat (BRZ), both conditioned by Mark Casse, were among those flying late and emerged with second and third money, respectively, a head apart.
Dhabab (IRE), who had trailed early, also finished strongly to miss show money by just a nose. Dream Shake was next, another head back and a head before Rockcrest, who in turn had a nose on Oceanic.
War Bomber was eighth, a neck behind Oceanic and beaten three-quarters of a length for all the money. Masen, County Final, Jazz Hands, Last American Exit and Remuda rounded out the order of finish in the field of 13.
Racing on going other than firm for the first time in his 14-race career, Big Invasion notched his second graded stakes score for owners Reeves Thoroughbred Racing.
The colt by Declaration of War had won Saratoga’s Grade 3 Quick Call last summer and now sports an overall record of 8-3-1, which also includes five listed stakes wins.
Big Invasion had traveled to the UK this June for Ascot’s Queen Elizabeth Jubilee (G1T), finishing up the track in that difficult six-furlong fixture, but rebounded with a solid effort in Saratoga’s 5 ½-furlong Harvey Pack Stakes five weeks ago and topped that performance here in the Nearctic.
“He’s a cool horse and he’s got natural speed,” said assistant trainer Christophe Lorieul. “The question we had today was the ground. We were not sure about the ground, but he was pure class. He is a top-class horse and today proved that even on that kind of ground he can be effective.”
Bill Tallon, for Woodbine Communications