Grade II winner Points of Grace is the 119-pound highweight among six fillies and mares signed on for the $300,000 Canadian Stakes (Can-IIT) on the Woodbine turf Sept. 19.
Trained by Malcolm Pierce for Live Oak Plantation, Points of Grace came close to winning the Canadian last year, opening up a clear lead in the stretch before weakening late to finish fourth, 2 1/4 lengths behind Princess Haya. The 5-year-old daughter of Point Given figures to get a similar set-up in this year's 1 1/8-mile renewal, with the question being whether she will be able to hold off the closers while spotting each of her rivals at least six pounds.
The Canadian, one of three important grass stakes on the Woodbine Mile program, is race 4 with a 2:30 p.m. EDT post.
Points of Grace was a sharp 2 1/4-length winner of the nine-furlong Dance Smartly Stakes (Can-IIT) over the course last summer at 13-1 odds, just two starts prior to the Canadian. It was part of a 2009 campaign in which the Kentucky-bred filly won five of nine starts on her way to a Sovereign Award as Canada's top turf female.
So far in 2010, she has won once in three starts. Following a third-place finish in a trouble-marred defense of her Dance Smartly victory July 18, she produced a convincing win over allowance foes at one mile Aug. 20, taking command for jockey Patrick Husbands and drawing away as the 2-5 favorite over four rivals.
Husbands has the mount once again on Points of Grace, who brings a 7-2-1 mark in 14 prior starts to the fray with field-best earnings of $529,350. They break from post 2.
Three Chimneys Racing's 4-year-old Miss Keller, from the Roger Attfield barn, figures to pose the biggest danger. The late-running Irish-bred daughter of Montjeu won the one-mile De La Rose Stakes over the inner turf course at Saratoga last month. She followed that effort with a belated third-place showing in the 1 1/16-mile Ballston Spa Handicap (gr. IIT) over the same course, coming up 1 1/2 lengths shy of the front-running winner, Dynaslew.
Miss Keller, who retains the services of Javier Castellano, ran second in Woodbine's Nassau Stakes (Can-IIT) over good going prior to shipping to Saratoga, a race in which she finished 2 1/2 lengths ahead of Points of Grace.
Magic Broomstick, trained by Mark Frostad for Sam-Son Farms, gave a game accounting in her stakes debut in the Dance Smartly. The 4-year-old More Than Ready filly closed stoutly along the inside to finish fourth, just a neck behind Points of Grace.
Also of interest is Mrs. John Magnier and Michael Tabor's Irish-bred Latin Love, who makes her U.S. debut for trainer David Wachman following a listed stakes victory at nine furlongs at the Curragh in her last start July 18. The 4-year-old daughter of Danehill Dancer was twice group-placed at the Curragh as well.
Lemon Twirl and 3-year-old Jenny's So Great each seek their first stakes win.
$300,000 Canadian Stakes (Can-IIT, Race 4, 2:30 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 1/8 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Lemon Twirl (KY), J McAleney, 113, J Mattine
2. Points of Grace (KY), P Husbands, 119, M Pierce
3. Miss Keller (IRE), J Castellano, 113, R L Attfield
4. Jenny's So Great (ON), R Maragh, 108, G de Gannes
5. Magic Broomstick (KY), C Sutherland, 113, M R Frostad
6. Latin Love (IRE), G K Gomez, 113, D Wachman