07/05/2013 2:15PM

Catching up with Dancethruthedawn: Mare had big shoes to fill for Sam-Son

Dave Whitford, Sam-Son Farm
Dancethruthedawn (right), the 2001 Queen’s Plate winner, earned $1.6 million on the track and now is in foal to Tiznow.

Few horses in modern history, both on the racetrack and in the breeding shed, have faced higher expectations than Dancethruthedawn.

The Sam-Son Farms homebred was well regarded from birth as the first filly out of 1991 Canadian Triple Crown winner and prolific broodmare Dance Smartly, who was among the most decorated runners to emerge from the operation’s foundation family.

By the time Dancethruthedawn entered the starting gate for the 2001 Queen’s Plate, the bar had been set even higher, as her full brother, Scatter the Gold, had captured the first leg of the Canadian Triple Crown a year before. Dancethruthedawn achieved her destiny that afternoon, carrying Sam-Son’s crimson and gold colors to victory in the classic.

A Sovereign Award winner and an inductee into her home country’s Hall of Fame, Dancethruthedawn has returned to her birthplace to build on her family’s legacy as a broodmare at Sam-Son in Milton, Ontario.

Like the rest of the Sam-Son broodmares, Dancethruthedawn made the trip to Kentucky to be bred this spring, as the operation boards its mares at Hill ‘n’ Dale near Lexington and at Creek View Farm, a division of Ashford Stud, near Paris. After getting in foal, the mares return to Ontario to deliver the following spring so the resulting offspring will be eligible for Canadian-bred stakes and incentives.

“[Dancethruthedawn is] doing great,” Sam-Son broodmare manager Dave Whitford said. “She’s back home, and she’s out with her buddies – some other mares who are open this year, not nursing mares. Most are back from Kentucky now. We foal everything in Ontario, obviously, for the Canadian Fund program. That’s our main focus – the Queen’s Plate is still our main focus. Once the foals are at least two weeks old, or right around three weeks, we ship the mare and the foal down to Kentucky so the mares can be bred back to stallions down there.”

Dancethruthedawn, a daughter of Mr. Prospector, won seven of her 16 career starts, banking $1,609,643. A stakes winner and Grade 1-placed as a juvenile, she blossomed in the spring of her 3-year-old campaign, capturing the Woodbine Oaks. Just two weeks later, she held off the favored Win City by a half-length to capture the Queen’s Plate. In the process, she became the fourth filly to complete the Woodbine Oaks-Queen’s Plate double, joining Flaming Page (1962), La Lorgnette (1985), and her own dam, Dance Smartly. Inglorious achieved the feat in 2011.

Dancethruthedawn went on to finish second to Win City in the Prince of Wales Stakes, the second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown. She continued her career with an assault in the United States the following season, winning the Grade 1 Go for Wand at Saratoga and the Doubledogdare at Keeneland and placing in three graded stakes. She exited the Grade 1 Spinster that fall with a nondisplaced fracture to her right leg, which ended her racing career, and she joined Sam-Son’s broodmare band.

These days, the assertive presence that marked Dancethruthedawn as a top racemare is still very much in evidence. However, Whitford said the mare is easy to work with.

“She’s a little bit of a loner,” Whitford said. “She sort of likes to stay to herself in the herd. She’s very sweet; [there’s] not a mean bone in her body. She’s very friendly and wants to come up for a mint or a carrot at every opportunity. She is great to do any kind of work with – the farrier, the vet, reproductive care, vaccines, you name it. She’s a sweet girl, and she stands her ground with the rest of the herd. She doesn’t take any nonsense.”

Dancethruthedawn hails from the fourth generation of Sam-Son’s remarkable foundation family. The operation’s founder, the late Ernie Samuel, purchased the mare’s third dam, No Class, by champion and leading sire Nodouble, for $25,000 at the 1975 Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society yearling sale.

Stakes-placed herself, No Class went on to produce champions Sky Classic, Classy ‘n Smart, Regal Classic, and Grey Classic, as well as Grade 1 winner Always a Classic. Classy ‘n Smart, in turn, produced Dance Smartly, along with Grade 1 winner and prominent sire Smart Strike, Grade 1 winner Full of Wonder, and Grade 2 winner Strike Smartly.

Dance Smartly, Canada’s Horse of the Year in 1991 and a divisional Sovereign Award and Eclipse Award winner, was inducted into both the Canadian and U.S. Halls of Fame. As a broodmare, she produced, in addition to Dancethruthedawn and Scatter the Gold, Grade 2 winner Dance With Ravens, the Grade 3-placed Dance to Destiny, and the stakes-placed Dance Brightly. With the exception of Dance With Ravens, a son of A.P. Indy, all were by Mr. Prospector. Two of Dance Smartly’s daughters, Dancethruthedawn and Dance to the Sea, by Gone West, are current members of the Sam-Son broodmare band.

“Incredibly, No Class is responsible for 10 mares in our broodmare band of 25,” Whitford said. “She’s still a huge influence in there – by far the most influence of any family in our broodmare band. We have to go through mares every year and decide who stays and who goes. There are fillies coming out of the racing stable that might bump somebody, or someone is retiring and gets replaced. It’s a revolving door.

“We’ve sold a lot of [daughters of] No Class, a lot of race fillies through the years. We’ve obviously kept as many of the No Class line [as possible]. With 10 mares strong, we have kept a lot of them. It’s always been a difficult decision. You never want to give away the golden goose. But the family has been very, very good to us.”

Dancethruthedawn’s own breeding career has been somewhat unlucky. From five foals to survive to racing age, including a current juvenile, the mare has produced just two starters, both winners. One of those, Dark Cloud Dancer, started in the 2010 Queen’s Plate, but the Storm Cat colt could manage only sixth.

“He had some ability and showed some promise early in his career, but it didn’t materialize,” Whitford said of Dark Cloud Dancer. “You would hope a racemare like Dancethruthedawn would have produced some serious runners by now. She was a Grade 1 winner at Saratoga, a Queen’s Plate winner, everything you want in a race filly. But she’s been a little unlucky in her reproductive career. She’s had some losses and some other foals that have not made it to the racetrack, unfortunately.”

Now 15, Dancethruthedawn was not bred for a 2013 foal after delivering late last season; unfortunately, her resulting Medaglia d’Oro foal died at seven weeks old. The mare is in foal to two-time Breeders’ Cup Classic winner and WinStar Farm stallion Tiznow on an early cover.

“We just felt very strongly that Tiznow was a fantastic racehorse,” Whitford said of the pairing. “His progeny are proven to train on at 3 and 4 years old, and he gives us our best chance at the classic type of distance we’re looking for here – a mile and a quarter for the Queen’s Plate, that’s the type of horse that we love and cherish and want to breed to. And he does work very well with the Mr. Prospector-line mares and the Storm Cat-line mares.”

Dancethruthedawn’s daughters also are beginning their own broodmare careers, and showing some promise. The mare’s first foal, the winning A.P. Indy mare Dance With Doves, is the dam of the winner Dance Again, who recently finished fifth in the Woodbine Oaks for Sam-Son.

“Dance With Doves did have some talent, and we just weren’t able to keep her sound,” Whitford said. “We were a little disappointed with [Dance Again in the Oaks], but we still have high expectations for her. She is a nice filly. We hope she’ll carry on the banner a little later in the year.”

Sam-Son sold another daughter, Danceinthesunlight, for $675,000 at the 2008 Keeneland November breeding-stock sale. Now owned by Southern Equine Stables, the mare is the dam of two winners from as many starters.

“[Dancethruthedawn] really hasn’t had a great opportunity to prove herself as a broodmare, but there’s still time there,” Whitford said. “She’s a 1998 model, so we’re hoping to get a few more foals yet. Even her daughters [could be productive], so she may still be a valuable part of history and moving forward.”

The next member of Dancethruthedawn’s family to carry the colors for Sam-Son will be the mare’s 2-year-old filly, Coastal Dawn. The daughter of Giant’s Causeway received her early lessons under the tutelage of Tom Zwiesler at Sam-Son’s private training center in Ocala, Fla., and was to arrive at Woodbine to continue her training in late June or early July.

“We’re in no big hurry with them,” Whitford said.