With Dancethruthedawn's half-length Queen's Plate win, the trophy for the opening leg of the Canadian Triple Crown is becoming more like an heirloom. Following in the footsteps of both her Queen's Plate-winning mother and brother, Sam-Son Farms' homebred Dancethruthedawn stalked the early leaders and rallied on the second turn to win Sunday's Queen's Plate Stakes at Woodbine over favored Win City.
Dancethruthedawn is by Mr. Prospector and out of 1991 Queen's Plate and Canadian Triple Crown winner Dance Smartly, making her a full brother to last year's Queen's Plate winner Scatter the Gold.
"She really does look like Dance Smartly; she cocks her head the same way coming down the stretch and has a lot of those similar things," owner Tammy Samuel-Balaz said, comparing Dancethruthedawn to her mother. "To win the Queen's Plate with Dance Smartly and to have her daughter win it, there is nothing, nothing like it. It's just unbelievable to have that kind of bloodline that continues on like that."
With Sunday's win, Dancethruthedawn completes a rare Woodbine Oaks-Queen's Plate double, accomplishing the feat for just the fourth time in history. Others to pull off the Oaks-Queen's Plate sweep are Flaming Page, La Lorgnette, and Dance Smartly.
Besides those two wins, Dancethruthedawn also finished 12th in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) and won a Keeneland allowance race, giving her three wins in four starts this year. As a juvenile, the Mark Frostad-trained filly won the Princess Elizabeth Stakes, a maiden race, and finished third in the Mazarine Breeders' Cup (Can-I). All told, she has won five of eight career starts.
Longshot Sik set the early pace while pressed by Stronach Stable's Brushing Bully, running the opening half-mile in :47.32 on a fast track. Dancethruthedawn raced in third under jockey Gary Boulanger, with Win City sitting patiently in fifth-place. Brushing Bully was sent to the lead on the backstretch as Dancethruthedawn moved closer up to the pacesetter. Dancethruthedawn moved to the lead while three wide on the second turn, gradually edged away from Brushing Bully in the stretch, and held off the late run of Win City, who closed determinedly in the center of the track. Dancethruthedawn stopped the timer after running the 1 1/4 miles in 2:03.78.
"She got away a lot better today than she did in the Oaks," said Boulanger, who booted home his first Queen's Plate winner Sunday. "It was just a matter of when I pushed the buttons. She may have gotten a little tired the last 30- 40 yards but I don't think she was going to let anybody go by. She showed today she's the real package. I was yelling and crying, all at the same time after the wire. I don't think it's completely sunken in yet. It's a great feeling, just unbelievable."
Win City finished 3 1/4 lengths ahead of third-place Brushing Bully. The maiden filly Asia finished fourth, with the winner's stablemate Lucky Scarab fifth. Thatsthebottomline, Dawn Watcher, Millennium Allstar, Highland Legacy, and Sik completed the order of finish.
The 19-10 second wagering choice, Dancethruthedawn returned $5.80, $2.90, and $2.70. Win City paid $2.40 and $2.30. Brushing Bully was worth $4.20 to show. The winning exacta combination paid $10.90.
As for next year's Queen's Plate, Dancethruthedawn has a 2-year-old full brother in the wings, the unraced colt Dance to Destiny.
Earlier on the card, Sam-Son Farms and Frostad sent out the impressive 7 3/4-length winner of the Charlie Barley Handicap, 3-year-old Strut the Stage. Ridden by Todd Kabel, the chestnut son of Theatrical exploded through the stretch to complete the 1 1/16 miles in 1:40.90 on firm turf.
"He's very special and I think it was just that he was heads and tails above this group, not to take anything away from any of them, but I'm hopeful we're going to see this colt in the Atto Mile (Can-IT)," said Kabel.
The prohibitive favorite, Strut the Stage returned $3.30 for the win.
In the sixth race, Mr. Epperson rallied from just off the pace under jockey James McKnight to win the Neartic Handicap (Can-II) by a neck over Airbourne Command, completing the six furlongs in 1:08.86 on firm turf. Sent off at just under 9-1, Mr. Epperson returned $19.50 for the win and led a $149.30 exacta. A 6-year-old gelded son of Cabrini Green--Cut the Twinkle, by The Axe II, Mr. Epperson was bred in Kentucky by Hal Snowden Jr.
"He's a hard knocking horse and he's always been a bridesmaid in these stakes races, always knocking on the door, but today he finally got his just dues and got the job done," said McKnight. "We were hoping to get a good stalking position and he's got the kind of speed that allows you to do that."
Odds-on favorite and 120-pound highweight Texas Glitter finished sixth after breaking from the outside post and setting opening fractions of :22.42 and :45.08.
While jockey Patrick Husbands failed to pick up a stakes win at Woodbine Sunday, he did win four races, including an impressive score on 3-year-old Speightstown. Laura and Eugene Melnyk's son of Gone West--Silken Cat, by Storm Cat, dueled with Saratoga Prince early on en route to notching the two-length win, completing the seven furlongs in 1:22.08. The win marks the third straight for Speightstown since switching to Woodbine following a seventh-place finish in the Gotham Stakes (gr. III). 1997 Canadian champion 2-year-old colt and Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) runner-up Dawson's Legacy finished fifth.
Husbands' other winners came on Pilgrim Road, Defenman, and Warleigh.