Front-running Smartyfly put away favored Spring in the Air past mid-stretch to win the $240,652 Wonder Where Stakes (VIDEO) on the Woodbine turf Aug. 4 in the final leg of the Triple Tiara for Canadian-bred 3-year-old fillies.
Eurico Rosa Da Silva rode 5-1 shot Smartyfly to a three-length victory in a time of 2:03.27 for the 1 1/4-mile distance on firm turf. Spring in the Air, the 6-5 favorite in the field of eight, gave way past mid-stretch after pressing the winner all the way. She held off the rallying Surtsey by a neck for second.
Nipissing, the Woodbine Oaks Presented by Budweiser winner who was making her initial start on turf, was pulled up in distress early on the final turn. She was removed from the course by van. It was later reported that the Chiefswood Stable's homebred daughter of Niigon was euthanized after suffering a hind leg injury.
Smartyfly is an Ontario homebred racing for Sam-Son Farms and trainer Malcolm Pierce. The improving daughter of Smart Strike was the only filly to contest all three races in this year's Woodbine series, and was coming off a solid runner-up finish in the Bison City Stakes June 30. She was fourth in the Woodbine Oaks.
"It's a bittersweet victory," said Pierce. "But, at this point I'll take any victory it's been so long since I've stood in the winner's circle. I'm very proud of our filly today."
Out of the graded stakes-placed Theatrical mare Scarlet Butterfly, Smartyfly had raced just once previously on grass. That resulted in an 11th-place finish in allowance company in her first start of the year April 7 at Keeneland.
In posting her first stakes win, Smartyfly was determined on the front end after taking the lead leaving the gate from her rail post. Spring in the Air, in post 2 for Gary Boulanger, raced just off her flanks, as they stepped their way through quarter mile fractions of :25.90, :50.00, and 1:14.07. Nipissing, stalking the leaders along the inside, appeared to take a bad step and was quickly pulled up by jockey Steve Bahen.
Smartyfly reached the quarter pole in 1:38.57 when briefly headed by Spring in the Air, with Surtsey a couple of lengths back in in third. But Smartyfly would not be denied through the long Woodbine stretch, inching away to a half-length lead mid-stretch and surging clear as as Spring in the Air tired. She finished up under good handling by Da Silva.
It was Pierce who called for Smartyfly, not normally a pacesetter, to be more prominently placed in the Wonder Where.
"We were sitting in the one-hole and the more I looked at the race, I couldn't find anybody that was going to be on the lead," said Pierce.
Surtsey, coming off a 41-1 upset win in the grassy Ontario Damsel July 14, launched a bid in the stretch but never threatened the winner. As If I Care was fourth, followed by Carmelita, Tonight We Dance, and Bold Birdie.
Smartyfly's only other win came in a maiden special weight Nov. 25 at Woodbine. Winless in four prior races this year, she improved her career mark to 2-3-1 in eight starts with earnings of $325,646. Smartyfly is the first starter for her dam. A 2-year-old colt, Butterfly Strike, is a full sibling who is yet to start. Another full sister to Smartyfly is a yearling.
Under equal weights of 121 pounds, Smartyfly paid $13.40, $5.30, and $3.80 as the fourth choice. Spring in the Air, last year's Canadian champion juvenile filly coming of a fourth-place finish versus males in the Queen's Plate July 7, returned $2.80 and $2.40. The exacta was worth $40.40. Surtsey paid $3.30 to show.