The Steve Asmussen trainee pushed the soft pace established by Callwood Dancer, then took over midway on the backstretch under Jim McAleney. The Niagara Queen opened up a clear advantage of about two lengths before being collared by Sprung, ridden by Patrick Husbands, in the homestretch. But the 5-year-old Langfuhr mare wasn't done, driving home 1 1/2 lengths in front.
Sprung held onto the runner-up spot by a neck over 3-2 favorite Quiet Jungle, piloted by Emile Ramsammy. The final time for the 1 1/8-mile filly and mare test was 1:50.01 on a course rated good.
Fractions were :25.94, :50.15 and 1:14.08, which only increased McAleney's confidence.
"Around the bottom of the turn, I had a ton of horse. I thought it was going to take a real horse to outsprint us," said McAleney after his third career Dance Smartly Stakes score. "Steve (Flint, assistant trainer) had told me that this filly was doing better than ever. I knew I could ride her with a ton of confidence."
Flint said The Niagara Queen, who finished fifth in the May 31 Nassau Stakes (Can-II), entered the race at the peak of her form cycle.
"It was her third start after a layoff. That's usually a horse's best race," said Flint. "She had worked exceptionally well."
The Niagara Queen, who is now a five-time winner in 24 starts, increased her career earnings to US$599,287. The Dance Smartly, her first graded stakes victory, was worth US$208,068 to her connections. The Elite Racing Company-owned mare won last year's Flaming Page Stakes.
The Niagara Queen returned $12.70, $7, $3.80, combining with the Mark Casse-trained Sprung ($8.30, $4.30) for a $95.50 exacta. Quiet Jungle ($3), second by a nose to Callwood Dancer in the Nassau, rounded out a trifecta worth $281.90.
Tell It as It Is ran fourth, followed by Callwood Dancer, May Night and Sans Souci Island.