The Niagara Queen Rules Dance Smartly
The Steve Asmussen trainee pushed the soft pace established by Callwood Dancer, then took over midway on the backstretch under Jim McAleney. The Niagara Queen opened up a clear advantage of about two lengths before being collared by Sprung, ridden by Patrick Husbands, in the homestretch. But the 5-year-old Langfuhr mare wasn't done, driving home 1 1/2 lengths in front.
Sprung held onto the runner-up spot by a neck over 3-2 favorite Quiet Jungle, piloted by Emile Ramsammy. The final time for the 1 1/8-mile filly and mare test was 1:50.01 on a course rated good.
Fractions were :25.94, :50.15 and 1:14.08, which only increased McAleney's confidence.
"Around the bottom of the turn, I had a ton of horse. I thought it was going to take a real horse to outsprint us," said McAleney after his third career Dance Smartly Stakes score. "Steve (Flint, assistant trainer) had told me that this filly was doing better than ever. I knew I could ride her with a ton of confidence."
Flint said The Niagara Queen, who finished fifth in the May 31 Nassau Stakes (Can-II), entered the race at the peak of her form cycle.
"It was her third start after a layoff. That's usually a horse's best race," said Flint. "She had worked exceptionally well."
The Niagara Queen, who is now a five-time winner in 24 starts, increased her career earnings to US$599,287. The Dance Smartly, her first graded stakes victory, was worth US$208,068 to her connections. The Elite Racing Company-owned mare won last year's Flaming Page Stakes.
The Niagara Queen returned $12.70, $7, $3.80, combining with the Mark Casse-trained Sprung ($8.30, $4.30) for a $95.50 exacta. Quiet Jungle ($3), second by a nose to Callwood Dancer in the Nassau, rounded out a trifecta worth $281.90.
Tell It as It Is ran fourth, followed by Callwood Dancer, May Night and Sans Souci Island.
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