John Oxley's Dixie Twist, expertly handled by Gary Boulanger, broke her maiden by a head in the $126,671 Ontario Debutante Stakes at Woodbine (VIDEO).
Bred in Ontario by Josham Farms and trained by Mark Casse, Dixie Twist arrived at the six-furlong Polytrack sprint for juvenile fillies from a troubled second-place run in her debut, the Shady Well Stakes won by favored Ontario Debutante rival Starless Night.
This time, it was Starless Night who found trouble, however, bolting wide after leaving from the outside post in a field of six. Dixie Twist, leaving from post 2 as the 2-1 second choice, broke smartly.
Starless Night regrouped quickly and rushed up the backstretch to duel with Dixie Twist through opening splits of :22.53 and :46.06 with Happy to Go and Unhindered tracking their pace.
Luis Contreras urged Unhindered, the My Dear Stakes winner, into the lead through the turn with a sweeping move but could not sustain the run. Instead, a resurgent Dixie Twist drove to the wire for a narrow score over a late-running 22-1 shot Roaming, ridden by Gerry Olguin. Dixie Twist covered six furlongs in 1:11.14.
"We didn't expect to be that close, but she broke hard today and was doing it easy," said Boulanger. "I just went with the flow of the race. I knew I had quite a lot of horse and I didn't want to move any sooner than I had to.
"The outside horse (Unhindered) made a big sweeping move and then she (Dixie Twist) got her legs underneath her again, switched leads and kicked on and made me look good."
Purchased for 180,000 at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale, Dixie Twist is a half-sister of 2012 Illinois Derby (gr. III) winner Done Talking. The bay filly is by Indian Charlie—Dixie Talking, by Dixieland Band.
Dixie Twist enjoyed a much better trip this time around after being checked and carried wide in the Shady Well Stakes.
"She lost her hind end for two strides and it took a couple strides to get herself back underneath me and here she comes running to be second (in the Shady Well)," recalled Boulanger. "I lost so much momentum that for her to run second was phenomenal. She showed today that she's a very nice filly."
Dixie Twist banked $82,017 in victory while graduating in her second career start. She has now banked $109,962.
Carrying 116 pounds, she paid $6.80, $3.80, and $3, combining with Roaming ($14.10, $4.70) for a $90.80 exacta. Sweet Dreams was one length back with Eurico Da Silva aboard, paying $2.80 to show and completing a trifecta worth $322.30.
Unhindered, Happy to Go, and Starless Night completed the order.