Masseuse rallied from just off the pace to capture the CAN$304,900 Dance Smartly Stakes (Can-II) (VIDEO) for fillies and mares by a nose at Woodbine Sunday.
Arravale, last year’s Horse of the Year in Canada, was sent off at 4-5 in her first start as a 4-year-old. After setting the pace for six furlongs, she stopped badly in the stretch and finished last of six in the about 1 1/8-mile grass event.
James Toner trains the winner, a 5-year-old daughter of Dynaformer--Pedicure (Mr. Prospector). Masseuse, with Edgar Prado aboard, edged the late charging May Night, who closed with determination for Robert Landry after trailing the field at the top of the stretch. The runner-up was all out in an extended drive but fell just short. Elle Runaway, a neck behind under Garrett Gomez, was also part of the thrilling finish.
For Masseuse, who completed the journey in 1:45.55, the score was the second graded stakes victory of her 2007 season after she took the Beaugay Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Aqueduct April 28. She has started four times this season.
Toner said the victory was satisfying considering how abruptly Masseuse's 2006 campaign concluded.
“(Especially), if you’d had seen what she looked like last year, as compared to what she looks like now. She went off on a van at Monmouth Park. To have her come back at the same level shows you what kind of horse she is,” he said. “She fights and lays it on the line for you. She’s very competitive, and she’s a very tough mare.”
Prado said his mount kept fighting all the way to the wire.
“Every time my horse saw the horse outside, she would keep trying a little more,” said the 2006 Eclipse Award winner. “(Mr. Toner) told me to sit behind the speed and wait. It’s a long stretch. When you press the pedal, she will be there for you. That’s exactly what happened.”
Masseuse is owned by New Yorkers H. R. C. Elser and P.E., R. and J. Nicholson, who were in Toronto to celebrate in the winner’s circle. Cherry Valley Farm bred her in Kentucky.
The $180,000 winner’s share of the Dance Smartly purse elevates Masseuse’s earnings to $442,610.
Masseuse returned $6.40, $4.20, $3.60, combining with May Night ($10.30, $6.20) for a $54.40 exacta. Elle Runaway ($5.40) completed a $178 trifecta.
Scarlet Butterfly, Essential Edge, and Arravale completed the order.
Arravale set fractions of :23 4/5 and :47 2/5 while holding a one-length lead over Essential Edge. She was engaged at the top of the lane and tired with three-sixteenths of a mile left.