Strut the Course wins the Dance Smartly Stakes.

Strut the Course wins the Dance Smartly Stakes.

Michael Burns

Strut the Course Edges Favorite at Woodbine

Even-money favorite Watsdachances a head behind in Dance Smartly Stakes (Can-II).

Even-money favorite Watsdachances weaved her way through traffic in the stretch, but could not get to Strut the Course in the $200,000 Dance Smartly Stakes (Can-II) (VIDEO) July 5 at Woodbine.

John Unger's homebred Strut the Course, the Canadian champion older mare in 2014, rallied past rivals in the stretch to take command in the final stages then hit the wire just in time, a head in front of the hard-charging Watsdachances. Longshot Solid Appeal was a half-length back in third.

The winner covered the 1 1/8 miles over firm turf in 1:45.41 under Luis Contreras. The 5-year-old daughter of Strut the Stage last won in November, when she took the Maple Leaf Stakes (Can-III) on Woodbine's synthetic main track.

"We've just been stepping up every year, because we've ran out of competition," winning trainer Barbara Minshall said. "We're just seeing how far she can go, basically, and this was a big step to go to open company with these fillies on the turf. It looks like she's stepping up with them."

Watsdachances initially was part of the stalking group, with Strut the Course, as Smartyfly set fractions of :25.11 and :49.45 through a half-mile. But the favorite dropped back to last in the nine-horse field before picking off horses late.

The winner paid $8.90, $3.30, and $2.60 across the board. Watsdachances delivered $2.90 and $2.30, and Solid Appeal brought $6.60.

Industrial Policy finished fourth, followed by Copper Kitten, Winning Rhythm, Smartyfly, Llanarmon, and Sky Treasure, to complete the order of finish.

Bred in Ontario, Strut the Course is out of the Trajectory mare Bold Course. The mare has an 8-3-2 record from 19 career starts, with earnings of $701,025.