Topped by Canadian grade 2 stakes winner Rainha Da Bateria and multiple grade 3 winner Suffused, a well-balanced field of eight fillies and mares are set to contest the Dance Smartly Stakes (G2T) on the July 2 Queen's Plate card at Woodbine.
Carded as the ninth race, the 1 1/4-mile turf test for 3-year-olds and up will immediately precede the $1 million Queen's Plate, for which Stronach Stables' Holy Helena is favored.
A 5-year-old Broken Vow mare trained by Chad Brown for Lael Stables, Rainha Da Bateria has three wins—two in graded stakes—to her credit from 18 starts. A $435,000 Keeneland September yearling sale purchase, she won the 2014 JPMorgan Chase Jessamine Stakes (G3T) at Keeneland and placed in three graded stakes for Three Chimneys Farm and trainer Graham Motion.
Transferred to Brown last spring, the mare scored her biggest triumph to date, defeating grade 1-winning stablemate Dacita by a nose in the Canadian Stakes (G2T) at Woodbine in her debut for Lael. The 2-1 second choice, who will be ridden by reigning Eclipse Award-winning jockey Javier Castellano in the Dance Smartly, the mare is coming off a troubled fourth, only a length behind Hawksmoor, in the Beaugay Stakes (G3T) at Belmont Park.
A Juddmonte Farms homebred trained by Bill Mott and installed as the 8-5 morning-line favorite, Suffused is also coming off a beat to Hawksmoor, finishing fifth—3 1/4 lengths back—in the New York Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets (G2T). Prior to that June 9 effort, the 5-year-old Irish-bred daughter of Champs Elysees finished second in the Sheepshead Bay Stakes (G2T) run over yielding turf at Belmont.
Suffused, who has won or placed in 13 of 18 starts, with seven wins, began the 2017 season with back-to-back grade 3 victories in the La Prevoyante and The Very One stakes at Gulfstream Park.
The other grade 2 winner in the field is former claimer Starship Jubilee, a Florida-bred daughter of Indy Wind trained by Kevin Attard for Soli Mehta and Partner. Claimed by Tino Attard for $16,000 from JN Racing Stable in February, the 4-year-old filly has reeled off four consecutive victories. In her most recent effort, the filly recovered after stumbling and kicked clear for an impressive victory in the Nassau Stakes (G2T) over a yielding Woodbine course.
Mark Casse, who saddled former Canadian Horse of the Year and two-time champion grass mare Lexie Lou to win the 2016 edition of the Dance Smartly, sends out two this year, including Gary Barber's Uchenna, an Irish-bred daughter of Fastnet Rock. Winner of the 2015 Ontario Matron (G3T) at Woodbine, the 6-year-old mare was purchased by Justin Casse on behalf of Barber for $315,000 at the 2015 Keeneland November breeding stock sale.
For Barber and Casse, Uchenna finished third the WinStar Matchmaker Stakes (G3T) previous to posting her second graded stakes win in the Belle Mahone Stakes (G3T) last fall.
A 4-year-old daughter of City Zip, Involuntary has finished first or second in six of eight outings, including a victory in the Drumtop Stakes at Suffolk Downs last year for her breeder Dr. Catherine Wills. Since her purchase out of the Keeneland November sale for $80,000, the filly has had consecutive seconds, finishing second behind Starship Jubilee in the Nassau.
A 4-year-old Ghostzapper filly, Gamble's Ghost is a two-time grade 3 winner at Woodbine who will be ridden by two-time Dance Smartly winner Luis Contreras.