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Northern Dancer Breeders' Cup Turf Entries

The $700,000 Northern Dancer Breeders' Cup Turf (G2) is one of the newest additions to the rich Woodbine stakes calendar. Inaugurated just a year ago at the current purse and distance, it features top older turf horses going 1 1/2 miles, one complete lap of the E.P. Taylor Turf Course. A field of eight made the entry box on Thursday morning, and post positions were drawn in a special lunchtime ceremony.

The special guest at the ceremony was Hall of Fame jockey Bill Hartack, who rode Northern Dancer in his last five starts, which included wins in the Blue Grass Stakes, Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and the Queen's Plate. Hartack's North American racing career spanned from 1953 to 1974, during which time he won 4,272 races, 19.8% of his mounts. He won the Kentucky Derby five times, the Preakness three times, and the Belmont once. He finished his career in Hong Kong and since retiring from riding he became a steward, currently serving in Louisiana.

Of course, Hartack's 1964 Triple Crown ride, Northern Dancer, went on to become one of the all-time greatest sires in Thoroughbred racing, and all eight horses in the field trace back to the son of Nearctic out of Natalma, bred by E.P. Taylor and raced by Taylor's Windfields Farm. He said, "Northern Dancer was always the underdog. I don't know if it was because he was from Canada, or his small size, but every race he ran, nobody thought he could stretch out. 3/4 mile, 7 furlongs, then 1 1/8, 1 1/4... But (trainer Horatio) Luro had him in excellent shape. He was a fast horse, he had great speed, but he liked to come from behind. When he came home in 22 seconds in the Blue Grass, I knew that if I could rate him he could get the Derby distance." Asked about Northern Dancer's retirement after the Queen's Plate, he added, "When I rode him here, I could tell he wasn't the same horse. Something wasn't right, although he won. He didn't show me the brilliant speed I'd seen before. He won the race by 6 lengths but he didn't do it the right way. I don't know what happened to him but a few weeks later Luro told me he was retired."

Last year's winner and Sovereign Award winner as Champion Turf Male, Sky Conqueror is back to defend his title, and the Bill Sorokolit homebred is the 9-5 morning line favorite, breaking from post 7. He comes into the race off a close second in the King Edward Breeders' Cup. Trainer Darwin Banach said, "I am very excited about post seven. When we were in the Canadian International, we were in the one-hole and we got jammed going into the first turn. Hopefully, this will eliminate that problem. We won the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic from post seven, so it can't be that bad." New rider Edgar Prado gets the call on Sunday replacing regular rider Todd Kabel who will ride 10-1 French Beret instead.

Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup Handicap winner Jambalaya is the 7-2 second choice and will break from the 2 hole for co-owner and trainer Catherine Day-Phillips. He was third in the King Edward last out. Day-Phillips said, "He was to the inside in his races (wins in the G1 Gulfstream Park Breeders' Cup and G3 Pan American Handicap), so we have the inside again. It's the shortest way around." Regular rider Javier Castellano will be aboard once again.

The Northern Dancer is one of four added-money events on Sunday's terrific card. In addition to the $125,000 Ontario Matron Stakes and $125,000 Bold Venture Stakes, the $300,000 Dance Smartly Stakes will feature Arravale, Canada's 2006 Horse of the Year, making her seasonal debut in the 1 1/8 mile turf contest for fillies and mares. Before the racing begins, DRF handicappers Dan Illman and Jennifer Morrison will host a handicapping seminar from 11AM to noon on the second floor, and then Bill Hartack will be available for an autograph session from noon to 1PM. The race will be available on simulcast across North America and in a special telecast on The Score network from 4:30 to 5:30 PM ET.



Post- Horse, Owner, Trainer, Jockey, M/L Odds

1- Marsh Side, Robert Evans, Michael Dickinson, Emma-Jayne Wilson, 10-1

2- Jambalaya, Kingfield Racing Stable, Catherine Day Phillips, Javier Castellano, 7-2

3- The Carbon Unit, James Long, Roger Attfield, Garry Cruise, 20-1

4- Pellegrino, Gary Tanaka, Roger Attfield, Jono Jones, 8-1

5- Last Answer, Gus Schickedanz, Mike Keogh, Emile Ramsammy, 20-1

6- French Beret, Sam-Son Farm, Mark Frostad, Todd Kabel, 10-1

7- Sky Conqueror, William Sorokolit, Darwin Banach, Edgar Prado, 9-5

8- Obrigado, Gary Seidler & Peter Vegso, Neil Drysdale, Garrett Gomez, 4-1



PHOTO: Sky Conqueror wins over Last Answer in the inaugural Northern Dancer Breeders' Cup Turf.

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