If you have a confident opinion on which filly or mare will prevail in Saturday’s $750,000 E. P. Taylor Stakes at Woodbine, then let me offer a hearty round of applause. Either through handicapping acumen or sheer bravado, you have found confidence where most bettors are likely to proceed with caution.
Let’s face it: the Grade 1 E. P. Taylor is shaping up as a tough race to handicap. The 1 1/4-mile turf test has attracted nine entrants, and it’s hard to count anyone out of contention. There are half a dozen reasonably logical win contenders, and hitting exotic wagers like the trifecta and superfecta may require spreading deep or using some of that previously mentioned bravado to take a stand and hope for the best.
Much of the difficulty in handicapping the E. P. Taylor surrounds #3 Moira, a 3-year-old filly facing older horses for the first time. Stepping outside her own age group would be challenging even if Moira were a tried-and-true turf specialist … but the fact is, she’s also never raced on grass. Instead, she’s compiled a 4-for-5 record on the synthetic Tapeta Footings surface at Woodbine, culminating with a record-setting victory in the 1 1/4-mile Queen’s Plate Stakes against males.
Obviously, Moira has a ton of talent and racing 1 1/4 miles isn’t an obstacle, but predicting whether she’ll transfer her brilliant Tapeta form to turf while facing older rivals is an exercise in guesswork.
Similar questions face #8 Mylady, another 3-year-old squaring off against her elders. The gray or roan filly is shipping in from Germany, where she finished third by three-quarters of a length in the Group 1 Henkel Preis der Diana (German Oaks) in her most recent start.
European raiders win the E. P. Taylor with regularity, but they generally come from European racing strongholds like England and France. The caliber of racing in Germany tends to be a little lower, so it’s difficult to analyze how Mylady might stack up against older rivals at Woodbine.
Among the older brigade, we know #4 Rougir is good enough to win a race like the E. P. Taylor. In France last season, she picked up a top-level prize in the Group 1 Prix de l’Opera Longines over 2,000 meters (about 1 1/4 miles), winning by a nose on heavy ground. Although Rougir started 2022 on a promising note with a decisive victory in the Grade 3 Beaugay Stakes at Belmont Park, she’s finished out of the top three in a trio of starts since then and enters the E. P. Taylor in subpar form.
The same can be said of #7 Lemista, who won the Grade 3 WinStar Matchmaker Stakes at Monmouth Park two starts back. Lemista was progressing in a positive direction until she struggled to fourth place in the Grade 2 Ballston Spa Stakes at Saratoga six weeks ago, a subpar showing she’ll need to shrug off if she’s going to factor in the E. P. Taylor.
So where do we turn in betting the E. P. Taylor? Obviously, we could overlook the question marks surrounding Moira and Mylady, or we could count on Rougir and Lemista to bounce back with peak performances. But there’s actually another appealing option: we could throw caution to the wind, bring out the bravado, and bet #9 Fev Rover on top of all our tickets.
Formerly a high-level campaigner in France, England, and Ireland, Fev Rover has shown promise in two starts since she was transferred to the care of Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse. In her North American debut, Fev Rover finished second in a quick renewal of the 1 1/16-mile, Grade 2 Dance Smartly Stakes at Woodbine. Next, in the Grade 2 Canadian Stakes Presented by the Japan Racing Association racing about 1 1/8 miles on this course, Fev Rover tenaciously turned back homestretch challenges from Crystal Cliffs and #6 Flirting Bridge to prevail by a nose.
Fev Rover loves Woodbine, is finding her best stride at the right time, and retains the services of veteran Woodbine jockey Patrick Husbands. In a seemingly wide-open race, Fev Rover offers appeal as a straightforward filly whose past performances are crystal clear and easy to interpret.
I also must give a shout out to #2 Adventuring as a viable contender. Conditioned by two-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Brad Cox, Adventuring enters off a gate-to-wire victory in the 1 5/16-mile, Grade 3 AGS Ladies Marathon Stakes at Kentucky Downs. Adventuring has speed combined with stamina and shouldn’t face a ton of pace pressure in the E. P. Taylor, setting the stage for a potentially strong showing.
Depending on how much budget you plan to spend betting the E. P. Taylor, we have a couple of wagering strategies to consider. The $12 option focuses on an exacta playing Fev Rover over Moira, Mylady, and Adventuring, while the $36 option throws in a trifecta adding Rougir and Flirting Bridge for third place.
Wagering Strategy on a $12 Budget
$4 exacta: 9 with 2,3,8 ($12)
What to say at the betting window: Woodbine, Race 9, $4 exacta 9 with 2,3,8
Wagering Strategy on a $36 Budget
$8 exacta: 9 with 2,3,8 ($24)
What to say at the betting window: Woodbine, Race 9, $8 exacta 9 with 2,3,8
$1 trifecta: 9 with 2,3,8 with 2,3,4,6,8 ($12)
What to say at the betting window: Woodbine, Race 9, $1 trifecta 9 with 2,3,8 with 2,3,4,6,8
Good luck, and enjoy the race!
Cambus-Kenneth Farm, LLC