Dance Smartly (Cont.)

With the grade II Molson Export Million in their own backyard, the Sam-Son team elected to pit their star filly against American champion Fly So Free and others in the 1 1/8-mile test.

Sent off as a close second choice behind Fly So Free, Dance Smartly again showed the boys no mercy and surged to a two-length victory.

With six weeks before the Distaff, Day put Dance Smartly away for three weeks of "quiet time" before charging her back up for the Breeders' Cup.

"One thing that sticks out in my mind was when we had her and Wilderness Song at Keeneland three weeks before the Distaff," said Day. "Hughie Chatman is jogging Dance Smartly one morning and he tells me she's not jogging right. I thought he was kidding."

Day's worst nightmare was true: Dance Smartly was favoring a front foot.

Somewhat easing the pain of that problem, Wilderness Song led all the way and won the Spinster Stakes (gr. I) under a masterful ride by Pat Day. But would Dance Smartly be ready for the Distaff?

"Dr. Alex Harthill helped us with her for three weeks," said Day. "But we got to a week before the race and she had done diddly-squat."

Day had time to give Dance Smartly a single, strong six-furlong workout and was relieved when she blew away a workmate and finished with verve.

It was nail-biting time for the Sam-Son team on Breeders' Cup Day when Dance Smartly and her mate went to post as the heavy 1-2 favorites.

"I vividly remember going to the paddock," said Samuel-Balaz. "I saw a lot of the gang from Woodbine and many Canadian flags. We just wanted her to go out and show the world what our Canadian-bred could do."

Dance Smartly did just that on the most important day of her racing career. Under perfect handling from Day, she sat a glorious trip behind the front runners before launching a three-wide bid two furlongs from the wire.

"Down the backside, at the half-mile pole I didn't think she was going that great," said Jim Day. "But then she charged around the turn, got into contention, and then drew off. So that was quite exciting."

With her head cocked to the grandstand as she liked to do, Dance Smartly strolled away from top-class mares such as Fit for a Queen and Brought to Mind and held off a charging Versailles Treaty to win by 1 1/2 lengths.

In owners' row, Ernie Samuel had been screeching "hurry up, hurry up" for almost half a minute as the stretch run seemed to take an eternity.

"I still remember Dad throwing his arms up in the air after the race, that was his trademark move," said Samuel-Balaz.

As Day dismounted, he was asked to compare Dance Smartly to his other top mounts. "I was fortunate enough to ride Lady's Secret when she was Horse of the Year and this filly just went by her earnings, so this filly has got to be right next to her."

As a 4-year-old, Dance Smartly raced exclusively on the grass, winning the restricted Canadian Maturity over the boys and finishing third in the grade I Beverly D. Stakes at Arlington.

Samuel announced that his prized mare had been fighting a pulled suspensory ligament in her right front leg and would be retired. Dance Smartly was never worse than third in 17 career races, winning 12 and banking $3,263,835.

Incredibly, her saga does not end there, as she has begun a new line of champions for Sam-Son in the breeding shed.

From five foals to race, Dance Smartly has produced Queen's Plate winners Scatter the Gold, now a stallion in Japan, and the filly Dancethruthedawn, a grade I winner who has already joined the broodmare band.

Samuel died May 25, 2000, at the age of 69, only a month before Scatter the Gold's Plate triumph.

Dance Smartly was named outstanding broodmare at the 2001 Sovereign Awards, the third generation of Sam-Son mares to win such an award.

"She truly stands for what my father's breeding program was all about," said Samuel-Balaz, who visited Dance Smartly and her Thunder Gulch filly foal in Kentucky in late June. "She's the whole package."

Dance Smartly has been up for induction into the National Museum of Racing Hall and of Fame at Saratoga before, but Samuel-Balaz said the family was still surprised when they got the phone call.

"It's an incredible honor," she said. "I wish Dad was here. He'd be over the moon about it. We're proud of her and, as Canadians, we believe she deserves to be in there. You know, she's being inducted based on her race record but she's so much more than just that."