Purchased for $2.4 million at auction last November by Elizabeth Moran’s Brushwood Stable, Mushka attempts to win her first stakes for her new connections in the $300,000 Dance Smartly (Can-IIT) on the Woodbine turf July 11.
Trained by Bill Mott, the 4-year-old Empire Maker filly has lost in three previous graded stakes and is coming off a runner-up finish in the Sheepshead Bay (gr. IIT) at Belmont Park May 23. Mushka won Aqueduct's Demoiselle Stakes (gr. II) on the dirt as a 2-year-old in November 2007 for former owner Ahmed Zayat.
Mushka has raced exclusively on turf since last September except for an allowance race April 10 at Keeneland that was taken off the grass and transferred to Polytrack. She won by 3 1/2 lengths as the favorite. A $1.6 million yearling, she was most recently sold at the Keeneland November breeding stock sale.
Patrick Husbands takes over for the first time aboard the dark bay filly, who breaks from post 6 and was assigned a feathery 113 pounds.
A winner of four of 12 starts and $326,988 in her career, Mushka heads a contentious field in the Dance Smartly, a 1 1/8-mile event for fillies and mares. Among the main rivals are Callwood Dancer and Ginger Brew.
Irish-bred Callwood Dancer attempts to win for the first time in four starts in 2009 for trainer Roger Attfield following an outstanding campaign last year. Owned by Three Chimneys Racing and Harlequin Ranches, the 5-year-old daughter of Danehill Dancer is coming off a second-place finish to Rutherienne in the May 30 Nassau Stakes (Can-II), a race she won by a nose last year at Woodbine.
Callwood Dancer then ran fifth in the 2008 Dance Smartly, a rare misfire in a season in which she had three wins and three seconds in eight starts and earnings of $578,466.
All six of the chestnut mare's wins have come at Woodbine, five of them on the turf course. Eurico Rosa da Silva retains the mount on the 121-pound high weight. They break from post 3.
Stronach Stables' 4-year-old Ginger Brew is also attempting to break into the win column in 2009 after a powerful year in which she won both the Calder and Woodbine Oaks and missed capturing the Queen's Plate by a head. She won four of seven starts with three seconds and earnings of $752, 295.
So far this year, the Milwaukee Brew filly is yet to win in three starts for trainer Bobby Frankel. In her last race March 29, she rallied from last to finish third in the Rampart Handicap (gr. II) on a good main track at Gulfstream Park, though she was 8 1/2 lengths behind victorious One Caroline. She has been training at Belmont for her return. Todd Kabel will be aboard Ginger Brew for the first time and they break from the rail.
Another to watch is the Malcolm Pierce trainee Points of Grace, who comes off a fourth-place finish in the Nassau, her stakes debut. The Live Oak Plantation's 4-year-old daughter of Point Given won four of six starts climbing the condition ladder and was second twice.
Colina Verde, running for Team Valor and partners and trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, ran fourth as a 12-1 outsider in the Sheepshead Bay after a bad break. She was beaten by 2 1/2 lengths.
On the far outside is Salt and Pepper Stable's Arden Belle, who comes off a third-place showing in the Hill 'n' Dale Stakes June 20 on Woobine's Polytrack. She is winless in seven attempts on turf.
Overbrook Farm's Dance to My Tune, on the third start of a comeback for trainer Mark Casse, is looking for her first win since November of 2007.
Lemon Twirl, a 3 1/2-length allowance winner June 12, tries stakes company for the first time.
$300,000 Dance Smartly Stakes (Can-IIT, Race 8, 4:25 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 1/8 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Ginger Brew (ON), T Kabel, 117, R J Frankel
2. Lemon Twirl (KY), S Callaghan, 113, J Mattine
3. Callwood Dancer (IRE), E R Da Silva, 121, R L Attfield
4. Colina Verde (BRZ), R Migliore, 113, K P McLaughlin
5. Points of Grace (KY), L Contreras, 113, M Pierce
6. Mushka (KY), P Husbands, 113, W I Mott
7. Dance to My Tune (ON), C Sutherland, 113, M E Casse
8. Arden Belle (ON), E Wilson, 117, R Gerl