winner of the Labatt Woodbine Oaks with Gary Boulanger up.
The Labatt Woodbine Oaks
The Labatt Woodbine Oaks (formerly the Canadian Oaks) features some of Canada's finest 3-year-old fillies. At 1 1/8 miles the first leg of the Canadian Triple Tiara offers a purse of $500,000. Some nice fillies have won the race in the past such as Wonder Where, Laurie's Dancer, Blondeinamotel and Dance Smartly.
Dance Smartly's daughter Dancethruthedawn, sired by Mr. Prospector, was sent off as the prohibitive 0.65-1 favorite. She was coming off a win in the Princess Elizabeth late last year, a 6 1/4 length allowance win at Keeneland and a troubled trip in the Kentucky Oaks. She is a full sister to 2000 Queen's Plate winner Scatter the Gold, and 3/4 sibling to 2000 Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus.
At the post position draw on Wednesday, trainer Mark Frostad said: "I'm not real pleased with the post [#2] because this filly in the Kentucky Oaks was in the 1 hole. She stood in the gate for a long time and she started to act up pretty badly. We've schooled her quite a bit since then and hopefully it won't bother her this time. Hopefully she runs to her world-class pedigree on Saturday." She did not disappoint.
Off to her usual slow start, jockey Gary Boulanger saved ground on the first turn as far back as 7th. 8-1 shot Penny Perfect, also trained by Frostad, was sent to the lead and set early fractions of 23.88, 48.26, and 1:12.83 before faltering at the top of the stretch to an eventual 4th place finish. Second choice Quick Blue, a "sentimental" favorite of race sponsor Labatt Breweries, was close up early in 5th place but failed to respond on the turn but found her best stride too late and was able to get up for 3rd place money. 26-1 shot Dancen in the Sun stalked the pace three wide, collared pacesetter Penny Perfect at the top of the stretch, and held the lead after a mile in 1:38.56. Dancethruthedawn made steady progress during the run. Angling out on the far turn for her late run, she charged through the lane, caught Dancen in the Sun inside the 1/8 pole, and prevailed by a widening 1 1/2 lengths. Completing the 1 1/8 miles in 1:51.74, she ran a tick faster than Win City's winning time in last weekend's Plate Trial Stakes.
Dancethruthedawn returning to the barn after winning the Oaks.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 3 Dancethruthedawn Boulanger 3.30 2.80 2.60 10 Dancen in the Sun Walls 15.30 9.20 9 Quick Blue Ramsammy 4.20 Winning Time: 1:51.74 $2 Exacta 3-10 75.00 $2 Trifecta 3-10-9 318.10Results Chart
The field breaks from the gate in the Woodbine Oaks. Jockey Gary Boulanger said, "She got to leaning against the inside door a bit. She didn't break alert at all. She got her feet underneath her and I figured I had enough of a position to overcome that little bit at the beginning. I was happy to get her out half way clean."
The field rounds the turn for home with Dancethruthedawn circling the field on the outside about to take the lead.
Dancethruthedawn all alone at the finish. Trainer Mark Frostad said, "She did get out of it a bit. I had expected her to be a little closer to the pace. Gary rode her with great confidence and was rewarded. She bided her time and when she got free she kicked on. I was concerned about the speed bias. I thought she would run her race and she did. She's a push button horse. She responds when you ask her and that what makes her such a terrific filly. She'll relax and do what ever you ask of her and a lot of horses won't do that."
The connections in the winner's circle. Owner Tammy Samuel-Balaz of Sam-Son Farm said, "She allows us to dream about it - going to The Plate. It's an exciting moment. It's an incredible race. We're so proud. To get them here is a real credit to the whole team. She just ran a phenomenal race and Gary gave her a great ride. To follow in her mother's footsteps, it makes us really proud. It's just a great day."
Jockey Gary Boulanger celebrates his win. He said, "This filly is a phenomenal athlete. If I give her enough of an opportunity to run from the half mile pole home she would get me there. She didn't get away that well and I didn't panic. I worked my way to the outside about the 4 ½ [furlong] pole and right away she surged underneath me and started moving like I thought she would. When I really called on her at the eighth pole, she responded and when she got to the front, she perked up her ears and swapped leads and said 'where's the rest of them.' There's a lot left in the tank."
Dancethruthedawn in the paddock prior to the race.
Second place finisher Dancen in the Sun. Jockey Mickey Walls said, "She ran a great race today, just got outrun by a little better horse. Dancethruthedawn, she was the one to beat and I thought I had a chance at the top of the stretch, but I just couldn't hold her off. She ran her ass off, that's all you could ask for."
Third place finisher Quick Blue. Jockey Emile Ramsammy said, "I thought she ran well, her first race at Woodbine and first time going the distance. She ran a very credible race, we got a good trip and she'll be a very good filly."
Honorary drawmasters for the Woodbine Oaks were World Pairs Figure Skating champions Jamie Sale and David Pelletier. A video clip of their performance at the World Championships in Vancouver was shown and then they were interviewed on stage. A transcript of the interview can be found here.
Another prep for the Queen's Plate, the $100,000 Victoria Park Stakes, was held on the undercard of the Oaks. The wire-to-wire winner was Dream Launcher in 1:51.67 who is currently not nominated to the Queen's Plate. Results Chart
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Photos by Cindy Pierson and Terence Dulay