TORONTO, July 24, 2022 – Wakanaka (IRE), trained by Bill Mott, looked right at home on the E.P. Taylor Turf Course, taking all the spoils in the $204,400 Grade 2 Dance Smartly Stakes, Sunday at Woodbine.
It was another Irish-bred, Fev Rover, who zipped up the rail to seize control of the 1 1/16-mile race for fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up, as Inthewinnerscircle was settled into second, one length off the leader through an opening split of :23.65 over firm going. Seasons was positioned in third, a head in front of Wakanaka.
Fev Rover was a half-length on top after a half in :47.19, followed by Inthewinnerscircle, Seasons, Wakanaka, Munnyfor Ro and Youens (Keyflower (FR) and Lady Speightspeare were scratched).
In front by just a head after three-quarters in 1:10.26, Fev Rover braced for the challenge of a surging Wakanaka, who was making up ground quickly to her outside.
One length clear at the stretch call, Wakanaka, making her first appearance at Woodbine, went on to record a 1 ¾-length victory in a time of 1:39.46. Fev Rover finished second, a head in front of Munnyfor Ro. Seasons was fourth. A claim of foul by the rider of Fev Rover was disallowed.
“Keeping her forward and turning for home, she saw the daylight and just ran off,” said Hernandez, one race after winning the Woodbine Oaks Presented by Budweiser with Moira. “She just looked a little bit at the grandstand. We’ve got a long stretch here and when horses come here new, they like to look at the grandstand too much. I just try to keep their attention on the race.”
With the win, Wakanaka, owned by Team Valor International and Gary Barber, improved her record to 7-4-1 from 13 starts. The 4-year-old daughter of Power (GB) and Storyline (IRE) was bred by Mrs. Jean Brennan.
She paid $4.60, $2.70 and $2.10, combining with Fev Rover ($3, $2.30) for a $12.20 exactor. Munnyfor Ro ($2.40) rounded out a $32.80 triactor, while a $1 superfecta with Seasons returned $30.80.
The Dance Smartly is the first race of the lucrative Ladies of the Lawn Series.
Launched in 2019, this year’s series offers a $250,000 bonus to the owner of the horse that wins all three races in the series. If a horse doesn’t sweep the series, a $50,000 bonus will be presented to the connections of the horse that accumulates the most points throughout the trio of races.
The second and third legs of the Ladies of the Lawn Series are the Grade 2 Canadian Stakes ($200,000), scheduled for Sunday, August 21, and the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor Stakes ($750,000), slated for Saturday, October 8.