Updated on 09/17/2011 10:53AM

Chopinina in need of stakes win


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Although Chopinina was voted champion turf filly or mare in Canada last year, she is still in search of her first career stakes victory. Chopinina will try to rectify that situation in Saturday's Grade 2, $171,750 Dance Smartly Handicap at Woodbine.

Chopinina finished second to Good Journey after racing on the lead early in the Grade 1 Atto Mile here last September, but showed she didn't need to be on a clear lead to perform well in her only start this year, in the Nassau Stakes. In that Grade 2 race, she tracked the leaders on the backstretch under Emile Ramsammy, joined them on the turn, and assumed command at the top of the stretch only to be caught late by Strait From Texas.

Trainer John Alec Fehr said he was pleased with Chopinina's Nassau performance.

"One of a few things kept her from winning the race," Fehr said. "At first, I thought she got a bit tired, because it was her first race and the turf was a little soft, but when [Emile] got off of her, he said she was waiting [for competition] after she put those horses away, and lost some momentum."

Fehr said he modified Chopinina's blinkers for Saturday's race.

"I'm putting blinkers on her that are as small as we're allowed to make them," he said.

Chopinina worked six furlongs over the main track in a bullet 1:11.80 June 25, which was quicker than what Fehr had wanted.

"It was quite a work," Fehr said, "but I'm not so sure that a fast work is always a good one. It was the first time she'd ever worked like that, and we hadn't planned on going that fast. It didn't take that much out of her. She seems to be in good order."

Rounding out the field for the nine-furlong turf race are Ginger Gold, Hot Talent, Diadella, Ghazirella, Byzantine, Five Fishes, Strait From Texas, Madeira Mist, First Quarter, and Cyclorama.

Trainer Malcolm Pierce entered the uncoupled Stronach Stable runners Hot Talent and Diadella. Diadella hasn't run since she finished a close second in the Grade 2 Canadian Handicap Sept. 8.

"Both fillies are in good order," Pierce said, "and I'll probably run both of them. I wanted to start off Diadella in a softer spot, but there weren't many options for her. She came up from the farm late, and wasn't ready to run until now. I'm a little worried, because it's going to be hot, and it's been a long time since she's run. I'm happy with the way she's been training, but I'm not sure if she's ready to fire first time out."