Bay to Bay, convincing winner of the Nassau Stakes (Can-IIT) on a yielding Woodbine turf course last month, returns to head a field of 10 older fillies and mares in the $300,000 Dance Smartly Stakes (Can-IIT) July 10.
Six of the entrants in the 1 1/8-mile Dance Smartly are coming out of the Nassau. They include last year's Dance Smartly winner, Mekong Melody, who finished last of eight in her only start of the year in the one-mile Nassau.
Mekong Melody is one of three entered in the Dance Smartly by trainer Roger Attfield, who has won the race a record four times. His other entrants are Miss Keller, sixth in the Nassau, and No Explaining, winner of the Gallorette Handicap (gr. IIIT) on the Preakness Stakes card at Pimlico May 21.
The Dance Smartly, the only graded stakes in North America July 10, is the eighth race on Woodbine's program with a 4:35 p.m. EDT post.
Bay to Bay, trained by Brian Lynch for owner Robert Smithen, produced a 6-1 upset in the Nassau for her first win in three starts this year. The 4-year-old Florida-bred daughter of Sligo Bay tracked the pace before inching ahead in upper stretch en route to a two-length victory with leading Woodbine rider Luis Contreras aboard.
It was the first graded stakes win for Bay to Bay since she annexed the Natalma Stakes (Can-IIT) on the Woodbine lawn as a 2-year-old in September 2009. She won Arlington Park's American One Thousand Guineas last year.
Contreras will again ride Bay to Bay, who boasts a career mark of 4-4-1 in 11 races. They will break from post 6. Bay to Bay, two-for-three on the Woodbine turf, is one of four in the field assigned top weight of 122 pounds. The others are Miss Keller, Mekong Melody, and Nassau runner-up Never Retreat.
Mekong Melody, an Irish homebred owned by David C. Egan, won last year's Dance Smartly in a thriller by a nose over Ave. The 6-year-old returned later in the year to win the 1 1/2-mile Flaming Page Stakes at Woodbine and Aqueduct's Long Island Handicap (gr. IIIT) by nearly four lengths in November. She was on the sidelines after that until the Nassau, when she was never involved and wound up 12 lengths behind Bay to Bay.
John Velazquez takes the riding assignment for Attfield on Mekong Melody, who starts from the far outside.
Irish-bred Miss Keller captured Woodbine's Canadian Stakes (Can-IIT) last September for Attfield and just missed when second by one length in the prestigious E.P. Taylor Stakes (Can-IT) a month later. The 5-year-old Montjeu mare, owned by Three Chimneys Racing and partners, is yet to get untracked in two starts thus far in 2011, finishing sixth on yielding ground in both the Jenny Wiley Stakes (gr. IIT) at Keeneland and the Nassau.
Attfield is also represented by Harlequin Ranches' No Explaining, whose two-race win streak was snapped when she was beaten by a nose in a high-priced allowance at 1 1/16 miles on the Woodbine lawn June 18. The Irish-bred 4-year-old daughter of Azamour has not been worse than third in five starts at Woodbine, including a pair of allowance victories.
Besides last year's win, Attfield also took the Dance Smartly with Triple Wow (1987), Sweetest Thing (2002), and Noble Stella (2005).
Team Block's Never Retreat, trained by Chris Block, won the Honey Fox Stakes (gr. IIIT) and Jenny Wiley in succession this spring but saw her string ended in a wide trip in the Distaff Turf Mile (gr. IIT) at Churchill Downs May 7. The 6-year-old daughter of Smart Strike returned as the favorite in the Nassau and turned in a determined stalking effort to finish second best. Shaun Bridgmohan, aboard the dark bay/brown mare for the 7-1 Wiley upset, is reunited here.
Others coming out of the Nassau are the Josie Carroll-trained Valli With a Vow (third) and Forest Uproar (fifth), one of two in the Dance Smartly entered by Mark Frostad. The other is Stars to Shine, who made her 2011 debut June 11 at Woodbine with an optional claiming allowance win at 1 1/16 miles.
Jenny's So Great makes a quick turnaround after winning Woodbine's Zadracarta Stakes June 18 for trainer Greg de Gannes. War Tigress, a daughter of War Chant trained by Barbara Minshall, faded to sixth after setting the pace in a grass stakes at Mountaineer May 30.
$300,000 Dance Smartly Stakes (Can-IIT, Race 8, 4:35 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 1/8 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Stars to Shine (KY), P Husbands, 116, M R Frostad
2. No Explaining (IRE), D Moran, 120, R L Attfield
3. War Tigress (KY), E Ramsammy, 116, B J Minshall
4. Miss Keller (IRE), E R Da Silva, 122, R L Attfield
5. Never Retreat (KY), S Bridgmohan, 122, C M Block
6. Bay to Bay (FL), L Contreras, 122, B A Lynch
7. Valli With a Vow (KY), T Pizarro, 116, J Carroll
8. Jenny's So Great (ON), J M Campbell, 118, G de Gannes
9. Forest Uproar (ON), E Wilson, 116, M R Frostad
10. Mekong Melody (IRE), J R Velazquez, 122, R L Attfield