Nikkis Smartypants showed her resiliency when re-breaking in the stretch to draw away for an upset victory in the $170,763 Royal North Stakes (Can-III) (VIDEO) on the turf July 28 at Woodbine.
Ridden by Eurico Rosa Da Silva in her turf debut for trainer Robert Tiller and owner Benjamin Hutzel, Nikkis Smartypants registered her first stakes victory in an 8-1 surprise as both 7-5 favorite Sensible Lady and Canadian champion female sprinter Roxy Gap faded out of the money.
Nikkis Smartypants, who pushed pacesetter Little River through quarter-mile fractions of :22.82 and :45.90, appeared to be beaten in the stretch as Sensible Lady, recovering from an awful start, and Roxy Gap both challenged on the outside. But the 4-year-old daughter of Smarty Jones responded to urging from Da Silva near mid-stretch to claim the lead and edge clear by 1 1/4 lengths.
Final time for the six-furlong turf test was 1:09.49.
"I knew I had a lot of horse today," said Da Silva. "My horse was really focused, she was ready, and all she wanted to do was run."
Bred in Ontario by Gardiner Farms and Whodat Racing, Nikkis Smartypants is out of the Red Ransom mare Scarlet Slipper. The bay filly sold for $45,387 at auction in Canada in September 2010.
Tiller did not feel the need to train Nikkis Smartypants over the lawn in advance of her turf debut.
"Her feet and her breeding indicated she would handle turf," said Tiller. "The bottom line is that a horse is either going to like it (the turf) or not like it, plain and simple."
Why Katherine rallied along the inside to get up for second under Jermaine Bridgmohan, a head in front of Little River and Gary Boulanger.
Roxy Gap, making her first start since Nov. 24 at odds of 5-2, was a hanging fourth in defense of last year's Royal North crown, a head behind Little River. Sensible Lady wound up last in the field of seven older fillies and mares.
Stakes-winning Sensible Lady, shipping in from Colts Neck Stables and trainer Alan Goldberg, was stuck in the gate at the start, spotting her competition several lengths. Trailing the field up the backstretch, she threatened on the outside in the lane for Justin Stein before giving way.
Nikkis Smartypants came into the Royal North off a victory in an allowance/optional claiming race at Woodbine June 15 in her first start of the year. The victory was her fourth in six starts and extended her earnings to $247,207.
It also made Tiller the first trainer to win the Royal North three times, breaking a tie with Phil England and Graham Motion.
In her only prior stakes try, Nikkis Smartypants was sixth in the La Lorgnette Stakes Sept. 22 in her final start of 2012.
Nikkis Smartypants carried 118 pounds and paid $19.60, $8.40, and $5.80. Why Katherine, second in the Zadracarta on turf June 15 for trainer Kevin Attard, returned $7.40 and $4.60. The exacta was worth $107.10. Little River paid $9.90 to show. Roxy Gap was followed by Cat Lore, Heavenly Pride, and Sensible Lady.