Bettors forecast another Chad Brown show in Sunday’s $486,331 E.P. Taylor (G1) at Woodbine, but instead it was trainer Christophe Clement who sent out the exacta with Mutamakina and La Dragontea. The $227,665 Nearctic (G2) also witnessed a mild upset courtesy of Avie’s Flatter.
E.P. Taylor (G1)
Al Shira’aa Farms’ Mutamakina was coming off a tactically astute victory in the Aug. 22 Dance Smartly (G2) over this course and 1 1/4-mile distance. Jockey Dylan Davis again had her well placed in a slowly-run affair, setting the stage for a Grade 1 breakthrough for both mare and rider.
As Brown’s 2.85-1 favorite Kalifornia Queen carved out splits of :27.26, :54.46, and 1:20.84 on the yielding turf, the 8.90-1 Mutamakina was perched right off her flank. Stalkers Waliyak, Family Way, and Great Island could not make much of an impact on the top two as they grappled into the stretch.
Mutamakina gradually wore down a stubborn Kalifornia Queen, only to have her own stablemate La Dragontea erupt in the final sixteenth. Held up in last off the crawl, La Dragontea sluiced through the pack, altered course around Mutamakina, and drew up to her throat latch at the wire. But Mutamakina capitalized on her early position and kept her neck in front in 2:09.14.
Kalifornia Queen checked in another neck away in third. Waliyak held fourth in a three-way finish with Great Island and Keyflower, who made headway from well back on the inside. Next came Family Way; Court Return; defending champion Etoile, a non-factor at 3.70-1; and a tailed-off Merveilleux.
Mutamakina paid $19.80 while boosting her bankroll to $634,345 from a 16-5-3-3 line. Runner-up to Sottsass in the Prix Niel (G2) and to Terebellum in the Prix de la Nonette (G2) in 2019, the bay captured that summer’s Prix Madame Jean Couturie for original trainer Carlos Laffon-Parias. She joined Clement later in her 2020 campaign, placing third in her stateside bow in the Zagora S. before scoring in the Long Island H. (G3). Mutamakina added minor awards in the May 1 Sheepshead Bay (G2) and July 11 River Memories on the way to her Woodbine heroics.
Bred by Widgham Stud in Great Britain, the daughter of Nathaniel and the Danehill mare Joshua’s Princess sold for 100,000 guineas as a Tattersalls October yearling. A descendant of 1995 Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) heroine Ridgewood Pearl, Mutamakina boasts the Galileo/Danehill cross as well as 3×3 inbreeding to Sadler’s Wells.
Former Canadian champion two-year-old colt Avie’s Flatter has restored his fortunes as a turf sprinter. The winner of the July 18 Connaught Cup (G2) was not as successful on the step up to a mile, finishing fourth in the King Edward (G2) and most recently a subpar ninth in the Woodbine Mile (G1). But the Josie Carroll trainee was back on song in the six-furlong Nearctic.
A 7.25-1 shot with Luis Contreras aboard, Avie’s Flatter was reserved in fourth as Momos sped through an opening quarter in :22.72, then he crept closer at the half in :45.95. Town Cruise, the 2.40-1 favorite following his Woodbine Mile victory, prompted in second but could not go on down the lane. Avie’s Flatter was already gathering momentum, though, and forged ahead to clock 1:10.52 and return $16.50.
The chasing Turned Aside came up a half-length shy in second. His Mark Casse stablemate, Olympic Runner, was last early after hitting the gate but flashed home smartly for third. Momos finished fourth, followed by Town Cruise; Carroll’s better-fancied Jolie Olimpica, unable to close effectively from far back; White Flag; Reconfigure; Admiralty Pier; and Lucky Curlin.
An Ivan Dalos homebred from his Tall Oaks Farm in Ontario, Avie’s Flatter sports a mark of 18-7-3-2, $932,937. (In Canadian dollars, he crossed the millionaire threshold here.) His 2018 Sovereign Award campaign featured wins in the Cup and Saucer S. and Coronation Futurity. Avie’s Flatter plundered the 2019 Transylvania (G3) at Keeneland in his sophomore bow and placed in all three jewels of the Canadian Triple Crown – the Queen’s Plate, Prince of Wales S., and Breeders’ S.
Shortening up in his truncated four-year-old season in 2020, Avie’s Flatter was notably second in the Eclipse (G2). He opened 2021 with an allowance romp over seven furlongs on Tapeta, the same distance as his Connaught Cup on turf.
Avie’s Flatter (by Flatter) is a half-brother to Avie’s Mineshaft (by Mineshaft), heroine of the 2018 Wonder Where S., and to Grade 3-placed Avie’s Mesa (by Sky Mesa). Their dam, Avie’s Empire, is a daughter of Empire Maker and 2000 E.P. Taylor winner Fly for Avie.