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2016 valedictory stakes preview entries and odds

The G3 Valedictory Stakes comes our way this Sunday, December 4 from Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, Ontario. A purse of $150,000 will be up for grabs for horses three years old and upward willing to go 1 3/4 miles on Woodbine's All Weather Track.

A competitive field of seven will give it a go in the Valedictory Strakes - race 9 on Woodbine's Sunday schedule. Post time is 5:10 PM. Here is a peek into the past performances of all seven combatants for this G3 stakes on the final race card of the 2016 Woodbine thoroughbred racing season.

2016 Valedictory Stakes Entries at Woodbine Racetrack

Melmich 8-5 - runner-up to Are You Kidding Me in the Sovereign Award voting for champion older male - defending champion in this race and Kevin Attard trained gelding has 11 wins, six seconds and three third place finishes in 26 career starts and enters in very decent form - 10 wins, a second and a third in his last 16 starts overall. Last time out was a fourth in the G2 Marathon Stakes on the Breeders' Cup undercard at Santa Anita after a second in the minor Temperence Hill Invitational at Belmont Park October 2 and a win in the minor OLG Elgin Stakes here October 31. Before that was a third in the G3 Seagram Cup on this track August 1, a 1 1/2 length win in the Grade 3 Dominion Day Stakes July 1, an OK third in the Grade 2 Eclipse Stakes May 28, his superb 10 1/4 length win in track record time in last year's Valedictory Stakes November 29 and an Allowance score November 5. He also had a three race win streak before that including the 2015 OLG Elgin Stakes with a field-best 102 Beyer Speed Figure last September. Melmich has been competitive virtually every time out and will be after the repeat win with Eurico Rosa Da Silva in the irons of the morning line favorite from gate 4.

Aldous Snow 5-2 - won the G3 Singspiel Stakes in 2014 and 2015 on this track for trainer Malcolm Pierce and finished third in that race in 2016. He has been a tad inconsistent otherwise as evidenced by a sixth in the 2015 G2 Sky Classic, eighth place finishes in the 2015 G1 Northern Dancer Turf and G3 Sycamore Stakes in 2015. He does enter on a two race win streak however - both Allowance races here with the last coming November 11. Aldous Snow now has eight wins, five seconds and four third place finishes in 35 career starts and will be after his first graded stakes score in 18 months Sunday. Patrick Husbands has been tabbed to accomplish this goal on the second betting choice from gate 2.

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Mutasaawy 3-1 - Neil Morris trained gelding has six wins, seven seconds and five third place finishes in 30 career starts. He makes his graded stakes debut Sunday on a two race win streak - an Allowance at Pine Mountain November 5 and another Allowance at Great Meadow October 22. He failed to place in three of his previous four starts at a variety of tracks. His only stakes action resulted in an OK third in the minor Secretariat Stakes at Great Meadow in May. Mutasaawy has been OK in his career and will be after a career defining win Sunday from the rail with Guillermo Rodriguez in the saddle of the morning line third choice.

Decision Day 6-1 - Josie Carroll trained gelding has four wins, two seconds and a third place finish in 16 career starts. He enters off an Allowance Optional Claiming score here October 22, a fifth in the G2 Durham Cup on this track September 24 and another Allowance Optional Claiming win here September 4. He has three other career graded stakes tries and has failed to place in any - one being a fifth in the Grade 3 Ontario Derby here in September, 2015. Decision Day has two wins and a second in his last four starts overall and will be after his first graded stakes score from the outside post 7. Gary Boulanger rides.

Bangkok 10-1 - has 24 career starts for trainer W. Philip Gracey with just three wins, three seconds and five third place finishes - all on this track. He makes his stakes debut Sunday in less-than-spectacular form - a third in an Allowance last time out November 11 followed a second in a similar race October 12, a seventh in a Claiming September 5 and a third in an Allowance Optional Claiming July 29. Bangkok tries to snap a five race losing streak in what represents a major step up in competition - from post 5 with Emma-Jayne Wilson guiding him.

Ethical Funds 12-1 - George Billers trained gelding has three wins, five seconds and two third place finishes in 20 career starts - all at Woodbine. He makes his graded stakes debut Sunday off an Allowance Optional Claiming score November 13, a fifth in the minor Bunty Lawless Stakes October 22, a second in an Allowance September 25 and a fifth in the minor OLG Halton Stakes August 31. He placed in five straight Allowance races before that. Ethical Funds has been decent against lesser company but has struggled in his only two stakes starts. Jockey David Moran will try to reverse that trend from gate 6 Sunday.

English Illusion 20-1 - Daniel Vella trained gelding has placed in six of 10 career starts - two wins, a second and three third place finishes - all on this track. Last time out was a sixth in an Allowance November 11 after a third in another Allowance October 12 and a decent third in his only stakes action to date - the G3 Ontario Derby September 17. English Illusion has placed in six of seven starts ahead of this weekend and will be after his first stakes score from post 3. Alan Garcia has the mount.

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Australian open the top five federer v nadal matches of all time

pYou know a rivalry is intense when there's an actual word for it. The 'Fedal' rivalry between strongRoger Federer and Rafael Nadal/strong first started in March 2004 on the hard courts of Miami and to date there have been 34 editions of it, with Nadal winning 23 of them. /p

pThere have been concerns over the last couple of years that there might not be a 35th edition of it as Nadal's long-term knee and wrist troubles and Federer's back operation (not to mention age) threatened to bring to a close the careers of both players. /p

pBut there will be. And on one of the biggest stages of them all. Early exits at the 2017 Australian Open of strongAndy Murray/strong and Novak Djokovic paved the way for the two greats to meet in a Grand Slam final once again. Nadal trades on Betfair as the [1.82] favourite with Federer at [2.2] and that's understandable given the Spaniard's far superior general Head-to-Head record and better record on hard courts, too (9-7). /p

pAs we wait for Sunday's showdown, let's remind ourselves of five of the best./p


h2strong1) Gladiators slug it out (Rome Masters Final 2006)/strongh2p


pThings weren't looking good for Federer when he went into the strongRome Masters/strong final. He'd lost four of his first five encounters against Nadal, who was on 52 wins on clay and needing one more to equal Guillermo Vila's record of 53 straight clay wins. /p

pThis match may not have made everyone's top five because it wasn't at a Grand Slam. But in those days the Masters Finals were played over five sets and having been lucky enough to be there, I can tell you the quality of the tennis was as good as anything I've seen from them./p

pPerhaps more than any other, Federer will look back and strongwonder/strong how he lost this one. He took the first set, was 4-1 up in the fifth set, had two match points on Nadal's serve deep in the fifth and led 5-3 in the final set tie-breaker. But lose it he did./p


strongLesson of the day:/strong With Nadal it's not over till it's over. /p


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h2strong2) Federer makes mincemeat of Nadal in Hamburg (Hamburg Masters 2007 Final) /strongh2p


At first glance there was nothing particularly remarkable about this Federer win over Rafael Nadal in the final of the 2007 Hamburg Masters. But Federer's 2-6, 6-2, 6-0 win was very significant. Not only was it Federer's first-ever win over Nadal on strongclay/strong but it also ended Nadal's 81-match winning streak on clay./p

pAfter the match Federer said he'd finally worked out how to beat his rival on clay. But had he? A few weeks later it was strongbusiness /strongas usual as Nadal beat him in four at the French Open. /p


strongLesson of the day/strong: Beating Nadal on clay wasn't impossible. It was just very, very difficult./p


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h2strong3) Federer calls the shots on Centre Court (Wimbledon 2006 final) /strongh2


If there was one thing Roger Federer wasn't going to stand for back in 2006, it was to lose to Nadal on grass. He was the King of Wimbledon, having won the stronglast three editions/strong. He was the better server, the better mover, the better player at the net./p

pThis was their first-ever meeting on grass and Federer's greater strongpedigree/strong on the green stuff was obvious for all to see. The Swiss champ won 6-0, 7-6, 6-7, 6-3 and Nadal would have to adapt his game to the slippery lawns of SW19 if he was to ever win this one. /p

pstrongLesson of the day:/strong Don't mess with Federer in south-west London./p

p br

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h2strong4) Nadal closes the deal in the dark (Wimbledon Final 2008)/strongh2p


In 2007 Federer beat Nadal at Wimbledon again but things were getting closer. On that occasion he needed five sets. /p

pBut in 2008 Nadal went one better. Considered by some as the greatest tennis match of all time, it had a bit of everything. The match started 35 minutes late because of rain, Nadal received a time violation warning for taking too long on serve, there was a rain delay of 80 minutes towards the end of the third set and a further rain delay at the end of the fourth, by which time Federer had battled back from 0-2 to 2-2 in sets. /p

pBy the time they came back for the fifth, they were playing in near strongdarkness/strong. Nadal eventually won 9-7 in the fifth. 'It was so dark I almost couldn't see who I was playing.' Federer said after the match./p


strongLesson of the day/strong: Nadal has the better eyesight of the two /p


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h2strong5) Nadal on the up Down Under (Australian Open Final 2009)/strongh2p


What may seem impossible to mere mortals is very possible when Rafa Nadal is involved. Just two days previously, he'd spent over five hours on court beating compatriot strongFernando Verdasco/strong. Federer meanwhile had made light work of Andy Roddick in the semi, winning in straight sets. /p

pIt was also Federer's ninth hard court Grand Slam final and he'd won the lot of them before this one. Oh yeah, it was also Nadal's first-ever stronghard court/strong Grand Slam final. /p

pOdds stacked against you? No problem. Nadal won it in five, in the process becoming the first Spanish player to win Down Under. /p


strongLesson of the day/strong: Nadal is the real deal on any surface /p


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pCheck out tennis columnist Dan Weston's betting preview of the final/p

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