It was a win-win for trainer Christophe Clement as Mutamakina (GB) and La Dragontea (GB) went 1-2 in another thrilling renewal of the Grade 1 $602,000 E.P. Taylor Stakes on Oct. 17 at Woodbine.
Despite a gutsy win in her last start, the Grade 2 Dance Smartly Stakes, Mutamakina, the five-year-old daughter of Nathaniel (IRE), was somewhat ignored on the toteboard as the 8-1 sixth choice.
At the end of the 1 ¼-mile turf classic, she was tops where it counted the most, albeit barely.
It was 5-2 choice Kalifornia Queen (GER), one of three – along with defending champ Etoile (FR) and Great Island – Chad Brown trainees, who assumed early command around the first turn, emerging with the lead and then taking the field through a leisurely opening quarter in :27.26 over the yielding ground. Mutamakina, with Dylan Davis again in the irons, kept close tabs on the pacesetter, as European invader Waliyak (FR) sat just off the top duo.
Kalifornia Queen continued to dictate the proceedings through a half in :54.56, as Davis kept Mutamakina to task in second position.
After three-quarters run in 1:20.84, Kalifornia Queen and Flavien Prat began to quicken, prompting her rivals, including Mutamakina, to do the same.
As the field straightened for home, Kalifornia Queen was engaged by Mutamakina, while Waliyak looked to collar the leaders with an inside bid and La Dragontea, seventh at the stretch call and rolling, started to make some serious headway on the far outside.
At the wire, Mutamakina bested a hard-charging La Dragontea by a neck, giving Clement a one-two finish and his first E.P. Taylor crown. Kalifornia Queen was third, one length ahead of Waliyak.
“She ran well over here about a month ago and we saw an opportunity again to bring her out here,” said Davis. “Christophe, first off, did a great job of getting her here. I’ve been breezing her, setting up for this race, and she’s been breezing well and maintained herself and we knew that she would be tough coming here.”
Final time for the race was 2:09.14.
“She handled everything great,” praised Davis. “Last time she put herself in a great position laying second. Today, again, she got her nerves going a little bit more than previously, but she put herself in a great position putting herself second. We slowed down the pace and she was handling it well for me and I just needed her to finish strong. Once she got a head in front there at eighth poll she was digging in nicely. She handled the turf well today.”
Bred in Great Britain by Widgham Stud, Mutamakina is now 5-3-3 from 16 starts.
The E.P. Taylor was the final leg of Woodbine’s “Ladies of the Lawn,” a three-race turf event for fillies and mares that also consists of the Dance Smartly and Canadian Stakes.
Launched in 2019, the Ladies of the Lawn is a points-based bonus series. The owner of the horse who has accumulated the most points upon conclusion of the three races receives a $50,000 bonus, while the owner whose horse has accumulated the second and third most points receive a $15,000 and $10,000 bonus, respectively.
Al Shira’aa Farms, owner of Mutamakina, is the recipient of the top bonus this year, while the connections of La Dragontea and Court Return receive the second and third bonus respectively.