TORONTO, September 18, 2021 – La Dragontea, under a confident Joel Rosario, notched her first stakes crown courtesy of an impressive score in Saturday’s Grade 2 $263,000 Canadian Stakes Presented by the Japan Racing Association, at Woodbine.
Trained by Christophe Clement for owners Reeves Thoroughbred and Rebecca Hillen, La Dragontea, making her first start at Woodbine, notched her second straight victory, after a two-length triumph over yielding turf at Saratoga on August 20.
It was Our Secret Agent, with Antonio Gallardo in the irons, who took early control of the about 1 1/8-mile turf race for fillies and mares, as La Dragontea sat just off the pacesetter through an opening quarter reached in a reserved :26.00. There was no change as Our Secret Agent continued to call the shots after a half in :51.98.
As the field rounded the turn for home, Our Secret Agent was quickly engaged to the outside by La Dragontea, Barkin, and second choice, Merveilleux, with Court Return making a bid along the inside.
Rosario sat chilly on his charge down the lane and the duo easily fended off runner-up Court Return, crossing the wire a length in front in a time of 1:50.33 over good going.
Barkin was third, Merveilleux was fourth and Our Secret Agent, supplemented to the race, finished fifth.
The race played out exactly as Rosario had hoped.
“I was just laying close to them, she was very relaxed, very nice, and I would just want to wait for the right time to move. It’s a little different when you don’t have a lot of horses in a race, so we’re just trying to learn something.”
It was the fourth career victory from 12 starts for La Dragontea, the four-year-old daughter of Lope de Vega (IRE)-La Concorde (FR). It was the second Canadian victory for Clement, who took the 2002 running with Calista.
Since arriving in North America after launching her career in England, the dark bay, who won her U.S. debut on May 7 at Belmont, has compiled a record of 3-0-0 from five engagements.
“She looked like she was getting over nice and seemed really in control for her,” said Rosario of the Canadian win. “She was enjoying what she was doing out there. That makes it easy for me.”
La Dragontea paid $4.40.
The Canadian Stakes is the second leg of this year’s Ladies of the Lawn series, which began with the Dance Smartly and concludes with the Grade 1, $600,00 E.P Taylor Stakes at 1 ¼ miles on October 21.
Points are awarded on a 10-7-5-3-2 basis for the first five finishers with other runners earning one point.
Prize money for the owners will be $50,000 for the top points-earner, with $15,000 earmarked for second and $10,000 for third.
In concert with the series, Woodbine is supporting Rethink Breast Cancer. From August 22 to October 17, supporters can bid on specially designed pillows created from new saddle towels featuring the Rethink Breast Cancer logo. Proceeds from the online auction will be donated to the charity.