Owner Tracy Farmer doled out a hefty $400,000 for Ontario-bred DANCING DUCHESS at the 2022 Keeneland September Sale, a price no doubt boosted by the fact that the filly’s older half-brother Safe Conduct had won the Queen’s Plate the previous year. Bred by small-scale breeder Mitch Kursner, Dancing Duchess (Munnings) picked up her second stakes victory in Saturday’s $112,000 Alywow Stakes at 6 1/2 furlongs on the turf, continuing trainer Mark Casse’s domination of the stakes races at Woodbine this year. The Casse team has won 10 of the 13 added-money races at the meeting.

If you have a good three-year-old Canadian-bred, the logical question for summer scheduling would centre on the Woodbine Oaks (July 20) or the King’s Plate (Aug. 17). However, Dancing Duchess is not currently nominated to the Oaks and Casse told Canadian Thoroughbred that the filly will be heading to Saratoga and the Coronation Cup at 5 1/2 furlongs next month.

Dancing Duchess, who won the Algonquin Stakes as a two-year-old, a 5-furlong dash on the inner turf, tried a one mile distance just once but that was in the Grade 1 Natalma Stakes and she had a rough trip.

But the filly, who now has two wins in nine races and earnings of $259,490, battled on the pace throughout the Alywow under Sahin Civaci and is a confirmed speedster. She worked hard to fend off her rivals in Saturday’s race, finally winning over Uphill Dance by 1 1/2 lengths in 1:16.45 over a turf that had been softened by frequent rain. She earned an 81 Beyer Figure.

Civaci, who won three races on Saturday, and six races throughout the week, said the E.P. Taylor turf course had held up well despite the inclement weather.

“It was a little soft, not too bad. The inner turf was much softer.”

More Saturday

While all the rain made the grass courses on the squishy side, the main Tapeta track continues to yield slow times. Below is the race replay from race 2 on Saturday, a seven-furlong dash for fillies and mares, claiming $25,000, that was won by Keenen Davis’ SARAH’S DANCER, trained by Devon Boreland. The first two furlongs of the race were closed in 25.04, set by pace duelers Dreams and Schemes and Mason’s Music. That is a slow opening quarter for a route race. The second quarter of 48.42 saw the field pick up the pace and the final time was 1:26.70.

Despute the slow pace, Sarah’s Dancer came from almost three lengths off the pace to win by three-quarters of a length. Apprentice Pierto Moran rode the winner.

Speaking of apprentice riders, DA-SEAN GASKIN picked up his first win at Woodbine when he won on SOCIETY JOE, owned and trained by Ted Holder. Gaskin, from Barbados, won 12 races last year in his first season of riding in North America while at Century Mile in Nisku, Alberta. He won a race at Fort Erie recently and now has two wins this year from 15 mounts.

Gaskin is one 10 apprentice riders currently in action in Ontario.

SOUPERGIRL was just that in her career debut on Saturday. The two-year-old filly, racing in the colours of Sherry McLean’s Northern Dawn Stable, who bred the Souper Speedy gal and co-owns with trainer Krista Cole and Lindy Barrow, was 35-to-1 in the maiden race, an open event worth $112,300. Under apprentice Fraser Aebly, Soupergirl stalked the pace and then joined the battle to the finish, winning by half a length in 1:06.91 for 5 1/2 furlongs. She earned a 69 Beyer Speed Figure.

Bought back by McLean and company from the yearling sale at Woodbine last summer for $19,000, Soupergirl is the fifth foal of winning mare My Pal Ariana, a daughter of Aragorn (Ire). My Pal Ariana has produced three winners (Speed Pal, Indian Music and Jungle Goddess) and the mare is a half-sister to Queen’s Plate winner Sir Dudley Digges.

The flashy and promising filly READY FOR SHIRL, owned and bred by Charles Fipke, was a smart winner of a turf allowance/optional claiming race at 1 1/16 miles on the turf. An impressive debut winner at Gulfstream Park, Ready for Shirl had a less-than-ideal journey in her first outing at Woodbine but was always prominent on Saturday. When challenged by the unlucky Miss Roberts in deep stretch, Ready for Shirl, under a hand ride from Emma-Jayne Wilson, burst away. She earned an 81 Beyer Figure for her time of 1:43.93. The half-sister to Grade 1 winner Shirl’s Speight is trained by Hall of Famer Roger Attfield.