Sam-Son Farm's homebred Dance With Ravens, a 2-year-old son of A.P. Indy
, out of Canadian Horse of the Year Dance Smartly broke his maiden in impressive fashion Monday when he took the inside track to win the Grey Breeders' Cup Stakes (Can-II) at Woodbine.
The combination of a rail-skimming ride from Todd Kabel and a gutsy effort from his 2-year-old colt, made the maiden-breaking, half-length victory a special one for both the pilot and the connections of the impeccably-bred colt.
Dance Smartly was an Eclipse Award-winning 3-year-old filly in 1991 and was named Horse of the Year in Canada after winning the Canadian Triple Crown. She has been an outstanding producer as well, throwing back-to-back winners of the Queen's Plate: Dancethruthedawn and Scatter the Gold. She is also the dam of grade I winner Smart Strike
who stands at Lane's End Farm in Kentucky.
Ridden by Todd Kabel, Dance With Ravens broke alertly from the inside post, gaining a solid early position in the early stages of the 1 1/16-mile race.
"I had no alternative, I took back in the first turn," said Kabel of the colt's strong effort in his first career route race. "He's a real big baby, who's really not sure what he‚s doing out there yet."
Accountforthegold took the early lead, getting the opening quarter-milein :23.77. Kabel and Dance with Ravens had little choice but to remain on the rail, as mutuel favorite What's Up Dude was a menacing presence to their outside.
After Accountforthegold led the field through a half-mile in :48.51, Kabel and the Ontario-bred Dance With Ravens began to make headway, steadily gaining on the front-runner by saving ground along the inside path. Just after the turn for home, Kabel and his charge loomed large, engaging a gutsy Accountforthegold and the victory.
"I had to bide my time and that was my only opening," said Kabel, who recorded his leading 31st added-money triumph of the year, just one away from tying the late Avelino Gomez's mark of 32 set in 1966. "My horse fought a very game race and dug in very hard. Emile had a lot of horse underneath him and when I came up next to him, he was ready to battle down to the wire, but my horse prevailed."
The final time for the race was 1:47.79 over a main track rated as "fast."
"He's a big, heavy horse and it's been tough to get him fit," said trainer Mark Frostad. "He wasn't absolutely fit today, but the horse really dug in and ran a great race."
With the CAN$162,000 winner's purse, Dance with Raven's bankroll now stands at $223,820 in three career starts. The colt was making his main track start Monday after beginning his career with two outings on turf.
He paid $4.80, $3.40 and $3.10 across the board, combining with Accountforthegold ($7.80, $4.80) for a $50.50 exacta. Criminal Mind ($4.80) rallied late to round out a $156.20 trifecta.