Sunday’s Grade 2 Dance Smartly Stakes didn’t lure a great deal of talent for the $300,000 purse being offered, but at the very least it does feature the return of the ultra-consistent Ontario-bred Marketing Mix, who seeks to build on a 6-for-12 lifetime record.
After a win and a fourth to kick off her four-year-old campaign, the Glen Hill Farm charge took the Woodbine season’s first local turf event for fillies and mares by 1 ¼ lengths on June 2 over soft terrain. She earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 93, which wasn’t unlike the number she earned in her first performance of the year.
Once again, trainer Tom Proctor has given jockey Julien Leparoux the call aboard the daughter of Medaglia d’Oro. The Dance Smartly will be Leparoux’s fifth consecutive mount on Marketing Mix.
Winless over the Woodbine polytrack, Leparoux is looking for his fifth career victory over the E.P. Taylor Turf Course. Last year, he guided Turallure to a dramatic score in the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile.
Among Marketing Mix’s six competitors are Zadracarta winner Moment of Majesty, as well as Indian Pond and Inglorious, the third and fourth place finishers in the one-mile Nassau.
The Woodbine media office suggests Queen’s Plate winner Inglorious is renewing her rivalry with Marketing Mix. Not sure that three meetings in 13 months can really be called a rivalry, especially when there’s been no question which filly has been better in the two most recent events, one of which took place in a Keeneland allowance.
If Inglorious is renewing any sort of rivalry, it’s with an unknown number of Canadian racing gods that have taken issue with the decision-making of her owners and cursed her with a nasty competitive slump that has kept her from the winner’s circle for over a year.
Inglorious has lost four times over four different surfaces since her impressive Queen’s Plate score, including twice this year. In the aforementioned Keeneland allowance that showcased how Marketing Mix can capitalize beautifully on a tactical advantage, Inglorious and Luis Contreras demonstrated how a strong rally isn’t always enough to return to the winner’s circle. He had her positioned five lengths back of a moderate pace of :48-flat, in eighth. As the tempo picked up in the latter half of the event, Marketing Mix had too much left in reserve. As she’s repeatedly shown, she’s too classy not to convert that kind of set-up. Inglorious closed determinedly to be second.
The same dynamics carried Marketing Mix to victory in the Nassau Stakes. Leparoux positioned her in her usual spot, about two or three lengths behind the leader. She stayed outside for clear run and when the time came, she rallied to the front and stayed on with fine energy for a confident score, her fifth in seven starts. Contreras kept Inglorious closer to the soft pace in the Nassau so she wouldn’t be left with as much to do. Alas, he rode her into a stretch trap. By the time he could find running room, Marketing Mix was home free.
Did the trouble cost Inglorious a victory in the Nassau? Not likely given how she finished the race, conceding third position to a relatively unproven commodity in Indian Pond, who was in action for the first time in 2012. It’s almost alarming that the daughter of Hennessy lacked the stretch punch that has been her calling card throughout her career. Notwithstanding the trouble that delayed her rally, she should not have been worse than third in the Nassau.
Some would say that the soft ground may have complicated Inglorious during her late rally. If so, then why isn’t Contreras back aboard in the Dance Smartly? Usually trainers don’t fire jockeys that carry their mounts to the promise land of the Queen’s Plate because their runner shows a disliking for a particular surface.
With Patrick Husbands given the call aboard Inglorious, it would appear from reading between the lines that Contreras is being blamed for the champion three-year-old filly’s defeat in the Nassau. Did he get her into trouble? Indeed he did. But he got her into trouble trying to take advantage of the best trip available over this quirky turf course – the paths towards the inside. The seam, and consequently, the room, just didn’t materialize in time. It’s a bit extreme to fault him for that. Then again, it mustn’t be forgotten that we are dealing with the same extreme connections that skipped the $500,000 second jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown to freshen a horse for a 35-length defeat in a Saratoga Grade 1. It would seem the Donver contingent feels that Husbands can get their filly out of the Canadian Triple Crown curse they’re star runner is currently under – zero-for-4 and counting since the decision to skip the Prince of Wales. It’s not going to work. The racing gods aren’t going to allow Inglorious to win a race named after a phenomenal Triple Crown winner For the hex to be broken, Donver needs to do something big –like hold a press conference and recognize publicly that they made a huge mistake last year. They need to reaffirm their commitment to Canadian racing and its fans. Most importantly, perhaps, they need to say something that will change the minds of the trainer and owners of Strait of Dover, Danny Vella, Wally and Terry Leong (Canyon Farms), who are venturing down the same road less travelled. With the 2012 Prince of Wales set for next weekend, time is of the essence as Canada’s racing gods conspire to send another equine star down the path of everlasting regression.