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Oct 23, 2009

Champs Elysees and Lahaleeb gain entrance to Breeders' Cup


Toronto, ON (Sports Network) - A pair of furious rallies down the stretch gave victories to Champs Elysees and Lahaleeb Saturday afternoon at Woodbine Race Course. Each winner has automatic entry into the Breeders' Cup next month through the "Win and You're In" program.

Champs Elysees, with Garrett Gomez riding, surged down the stretch in the $2 million Canadian International putting him into the Breeders' Cup Turf. Lahaleeb captured the $1 million E.P. Taylor Stakes and can now start in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf.

The International featured the first three finishers from the 2008 running. Champs Elysees was third last year behind Marsh Side and Spice Route.

Marsh Side, 9-2 on the board, set the pace in the 1 1/2-mile turf event. Running second about three-lengths off the pace was 5-2 morning-line favorite Jukebox Jury.

Jockey Javier Castellano still had Marsh Side on the lead around the turn for home and into the stretch. Champs Elysees was coming from the back of the pack in the eight horse field.

Racing down the middle of the turf course, Champs Elysees was picking off rivals as he gained on the leaders. He finally took the lead with just yards remaining in the race.

Champs Elysees, trained by Bobby Frankel, posted a half-length win over 3-1 third choice Jukebox Jury. Buccellati was third with Marsh Side holding on to fourth. Rounding out the order of finish was Just as Well, Spice Route, Allied Powers and Quijano.

The time for the Canadian International was 2:28.36 on a firm turf course.

This was the third International win for owner Juddmonte Farms. The stable won with Raintrap in 1994 and French Glory in 1990. Frankel and Gomez teamed up last month to win the Woodbine Mile with Ventura.

Champs Elysees pockets $1.2 million with the victory, his sixth in 28 career starts. The six-year-old has lifetime winnings of more than $2.9 million.

Last month in the Northern Dancer Stakes, he was fourth, but placed third with the disqualification of winner Marsh Side. In August at Woodbine the veteran runner was second in the Sky Classic and third in the Nijinsky in July.

Champs Elysees ran in last year's Breeders' Cup Classic where he finished eighth to Raven's Pass.

Champs Elysees returned $7.20, $4.00 and $3.00. Jukebox Jury paid $5.40 and $3.20, and Buccellati paid $5.10 to show.

Lahaleeb, a 44-1 longshot, also put on a rally down the stretch to capture the E.P. Taylor Stakes for female turf specialists. The three-year-old filly covered the 1 1/4 miles in 2:02.89.

The Irish-bred Lahaleeb was ridden by William Buick for trainer Mick Channon and owners Mohammed Al Qatami and Khalid Al-Mudhaf. Lahaleeb is based in Europe and was coming off a fifth-place finish in the Solonaway Stakes in Ireland.

The pace in the Taylor was set by Roses 'n' Wine with Treat Gently to her inside along the rail. Lahaleeb was racing in the middle of the pack up the backstretch and around the far turn.

Taking the lead as the field came off the final turn was Rainbow View, who was the 2-1 co-favorite with Treat Gently. Lahaleeb came charging down the middle of the turf course and took the lead inside the furlong pole.

The filly hit the wire 1 3/4 lengths ahead of Rainbow View with Princess Haya getting up for third in the eight horse field. Finishing fourth was Eastern Aria followed by Salve Germania, Treat Gently, Look Here and Roses 'n' Wine.

"We kept it very simple. We just did exactly what we did at home," said Channon. "We didn't do anything different. We didn't treat her with anything. She came very fresh. If you'd seen her in the paddock beforehand, she did throw a few bucks and kicks in. We got it spot on. We can't believe it, especially for Mohammed Al Qatami and Khalid Al-Mudhaf, who are watching in Kuwait.

"The Breeders' Cup would be a lovely thing, but we do think she needs a little bit of a cut in the ground, which is why we came here really. So, we are not to sure really, It's a question of one race at a time."

Lahaleeb is now the winner in five of 16 career starts. The $600,000 winner's prize puts her lifetime earnings at $610,237.

Lahaleeb paid $90.70, $32.90 and $12.80. Rainbow View returned $3.70 and $2.60, and Princess Haya paid $4.60 to show.


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