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TORONTO, ON – Mutamakina, benefitting from a strong tactical ride by Dylan Davis, took charge straightening for home and held sway for a 1/2-length victory in Sunday’s $180,950 Dance Smartly Stakes (G3) over 1 1/4 miles on the E.P. Taylor Turf Course.
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Invading from Saratoga for trainer Christophe Clement, Mutamakina held off fellow Spa shipper Etoile, who had won last fall’s E.P. Taylor Stakes (G1) over the same course and distance.
Alnaseem, sent to the front early after beginning from post six in the field of seven fillies and mares, led through fractions of :25.98, :50.32 and 1:14.07, with Mutamakina just one length back.
“I saw the four-horse had some good speed,” said Davis, who was riding his first stakes winner at Woodbine. ”I broke well [and] was able to get a good stalking position right there.
“She did switch her leads down the backside a few times. She just needed a little bit of guidance. I had to get into her early. I was a little worried about that. Once she straightened up, she saw where she needed to go and she ran very strongly to the wire.”
Mutamakina reached the mile in 1:37.13 and led by two lengths with a furlong to run before finishing in 2:01.26 over a course rated firm.
Etoile, the 6-5 favourite for trainer Chad Brown and leading North American race-winning rider Irad Ortiz Jr., saved ground in fifth place early and launched a bid around the final turn but could not reach the winner.
Merveilleux, based locally with conditioner Kevin Attard, finished well to be third, just a neck behind Etoile.
Court Return, beaten just a neck as the runner-up in last year’s E.P. Taylor, Stakes, trailed the field early and finished well to be fourth, another half-length back.
Rounding out the order of finish were Blame Debbie, the 4-1 third choice, Alnaseem and Afleet Katherine.
Mutamakina returned $8.80, with the $2 exacta with Etoile coming back at $16.50. Merveilleux, the 7-1 fourth choice, rounded out a $110.90 trifecta ($1) and Court Return, the longest shot on the board at 22-1, completed a $1 superfecta worth $273.30.
A 5-year-old bred in England by Wigham Stud, Mutamakina is by Nathaniel out of the Danehill mare Joshua’s Princess.
Beginning her career in France, Mutamakina won twice and placed twice in Group 2 company before joining Clement in the fall of 2020. The Dance Smartly was her second Grade 3 win on this side of the pond, following the Long Island at Aqueduct last fall in her only previous partnership with Davis.
“I’m just happy to be back aboard her,” said Davis. “It’s just nice. She’s progressing well. She’s definitely a hard trier – you just got to know how to ride her. She always gives a good effort and Clemente had her ready today.”
The Dance Smartly was the first leg of this year’s Ladies of the Lawn, in support of ReThink Breast Cancer. The series continues with the Canadian Stakes on September 18 and concludes with the E.P. Taylor Stakes October 17. Each race will be contested over the E.P. Taylor Turf Course.
The owner of the horse who has accumulated the most points in the series will receive a $50,000 bonus, with the owners of the second and third-place horses receiving $15,000 and $10,000, respectively.
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