01/08/2014 1:29PM

2013 Eclipse Awards: Dank



                                                                photo by: Nikki Sherman

Dank arrived from England for the Grade 1 Beverly D. Stakes at Arlington Park in August as a filly with a growing reputation among turf females in Europe. She won the Beverly D. by 4 1/4 lengths, her first win at the highest level. When she returned to the United States for the $1.84 million Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita in November, American fans were ready.

They knew what to expect, sending Dank off as the 3-2 favorite. Dank did as expected, winning the nation’s richest turf race for females by a half-length over fellow European invader Romantica. For her success in the United States, Dank was made a finalist for the Eclipse Award as the nation’s outstanding turf female of 2013. A British-bred filly by Dansili, Dank made only five starts in 2013 and won four times, earning $1,697,867.

She ran in graded or group stakes in three countries. By far, the highlights of her season were her American victories, but she was a stakes winner for owner James Wigan and trainer Michael Stoute before the Beverly D. Dank was a Group 3 winner in England as a 3-year-old in 2012 – the Atalanta Stakes at Sandown Park – and won at that level in her 2013 debut, in the Dahlia Stakes over 1 1/8 miles at Newmarket on May 5. Dank followed that performance with her only loss of the year, a third behind Duntle in the Group 2 Duke of Cambridge Stakes over a straightaway mile at Royal Ascot in June. Dank was close with a furlong remaining and could not catch Duntle, losing by a half-length. “I don’t think she was at her very best at Royal Ascot,” Stoute said after the Breeders’ Cup. “I think she should be unbeaten this year.”

The Duke of Cambridge Stakes was Dank’s final start of the year in England. She traveled to Ireland for the Group 2 Kilboy Estate Stakes over about 1 1/8 miles in July. Sent off as the 5-4 favorite in a field of eight, Dank tracked the leaders, took the lead with more than a furlong remaining, and won by 1 3/4 lengths over Say. The win left Stoute confident that Dank could run at the highest level. In the Beverly D., Dank closed from sixth in a field of nine with a four-wide rally to win convincingly. After that race, she was sent back to England and was considered a candidate for the Prix de l’Opera at Longchamp in Paris in early October. A soft turf course in Paris led Stoute to redirect Dank to the BC Filly and Mare Turf.

Dank drew the rail in a field of 10 in the BC Filly and Mare Turf, a draw that initially concerned jockey Ryan Moore. He guided Dank into a stalking position shortly after the start and had her in second on the backstretch. Dank was within a head of leader Emollient on the turn and took the lead in early stretch. She was tested to the wire, but outfinished Romantica. “I thought she was the best filly,” Moore said after the race.

The victory gave Dank the fifth stakes win of her 12-race career. She has seven wins and has earned $1,785,021. In her two wins in the United States in 2013, Dank earned $1,536,500. Through the year, Dank showed Stoute how much she could accomplish in her second full season in training. “She has a great temperament,” Stoute said. “That is what helps her, a great attitude, a very good filly.”