07/07/2009 12:00AM

Lemon Twirl steps up for Dance Smartly


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Trainer John Mattine is planning to give Lemon Twirl a whirl in Saturday's Grade 2, $300,000 Dance Smartly.

Lemon Twirl, a Kentucky-bred 5-year-old owned by George Robertson, will be making her stakes debut in the Dance Smartly, which is a 1 1/8-mile turf race for fillies and mares.

"She's feeling great," said Mattine, a longtime assistant trainer who took over the barn when his father, Tony, died in May. "I think she's going in well."

Mattine, 42, had his first entrant under his own name here May 24 and saddled his first winner five starts later when U Got Dat Rite scored on June 11.

The following day, Lemon Twirl won a first-level "B" allowance over 1 1/16 miles of turf. Lemon Twirl was notching her second win in her 15th start, with her maiden win having come in a dead heat at one mile on the turf here last July.

Lemon Twirl also has finished second five times and third once and has been worse than fifth on only one occasion.

"She's been a bit of a bridesmaid, but she's run into some nice horses," Mattine said.

"I know this is a tough spot, but I'll give her a chance. If she finishes 1-2-3, I'll be ecstatic."

Dozen Dancer eyes Nijinsky

Dozen Dancer, the other big horse in the Mattine shed row, has been nominated to the Grade 2, $300,000 Nijinsky, a 1 1/4-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and up here July 26.

"I think he's better on the turf and I think he can run a mile and a quarter," said Mattine, while acknowledging that Dozen Dancer's longest race to date was a win over a mile and 70 yards of Polytrack here last August.

A Kentucky-bred 5-year-old gelding owned by Robertson, Dozen Dancer is coming off a closing second-place finish in an optional $100,000 claiming/fourth-level allowance over a mile of turf here June 28.

Dozen Dancer finished second in the Grade 3 Vigil over seven furlongs of Polytrack here May 18, and his last outing was his first in almost six weeks.

"He was going to have three works between races, but after his first breeze back he popped a quarter crack, and I lost some time," said Mattine, who had to settle for two five-furlong workouts. "He ran a good race."

In his only previous turf outing, Dozen Dancer won his third allowance condition over 6 1/2 furlongs here last September.

Smart Surprise works for Ontario Matron

The workout tab was light Tuesday morning, but one heavyweight who made an appearance was Smart Surprise, a multiple-stakes-winning 5-year-old mare trained by Josie Carroll.

Smart Surprise breezed five furlongs in a leisurely 1:03.60 under exercise rider Paul Ravera.

"Everything's on track for the Ontario Matron," Carroll said. "We'll set her down a little more next week."

Smart Surprise will be seeking her third consecutive stakes score in the $150,000 Ontario Matron, a 1 1/16-mile race for fillies and mares on July 19.

After winning the Grade 3 Hendrie over 6 1/2 furlongs here May 10, Smart Surprise returned six weeks later to capture the Hill 'n' Dale over 1 1/16 miles.

"She just shows up and runs every time," Carroll said.

Serenading, another talented 5-year-old mare in the Carroll fold, also was nominated to the Ontario Matron but currently is not scheduled to participate.

After opening her campaign with a solid second-place finish in Keeneland's Grade 3 Doubledogdare over 1 1/16 miles, Serenading stumbled badly at the start and ended sixth in the Grade 3 Arlington Matron at 1 1/8 miles.

Serenading then made her local seasonal bow in the Hill 'n' Dale and could not mount a serious challenge as the fourth-place finisher.

"She got jarred up in Chicago and didn't run her race here," Carroll said.

Monty's Best looking at out of town stakes

Monty's Best, a smart winner when facing older rivals in a 1 1/16-mile optional $62,500 claiming/second-level allowance for 3-year-olds and up here last Saturday, should make his next start in a "name" event south of the border.

Reade Baker, who trains Monty's Best, is looking at Monmouth's Haskell, Saratoga's Jim Dandy, and Mountaineer's West Virginia Derby on behalf of the Florida-bred 3-year-old colt.

All three races will be run over 1 1/8 miles on the weekend beginning Aug. 1.

"The West Virginia Derby would be my guess right now," said Baker, who watched Monty's Best close from last place on Sunday en route to a measured half-length score over the hard-knocking older rival Salty Langfuhn.

"I thought he ran a super race, simply because he was last through a very, very slow pace," Baker said. "He overcame that and tough older horses."

Passero searching for new clients

Trainer Frank Passero is in the market for new clients after six horses he was training here for owner Murray Stroud were transferred to Sam DiPasquale.

Passero, 75, was not active last year due to health issues but applied for and received stalls at Woodbine this season.

In addition to a total of 15 leading trainer titles at Woodbine, Greenwood, and Fort Erie meetings, Passero has been the top trainer in races won in Ontario on four occasions.

His 89 winners here in 1995 remain the record total for a Woodbine meeting.

Backstretch library grand opening set

The grand opening and dedication of the James B. Irvine Library, located in the Jake Howard Center on the Woodbine backstretch, will take place at noon next Wednesday.

Maintenance of the library will be provided by the Race Track Chaplaincy of Canada's Ontario division, which is headed by chaplain Shawn Kennedy.

Kim Alleby will serve as the librarian, and all books are donations.

The library is named in honor of the late Jimmy Irvine, who was an Ontario Racing Commission licensing clerk and is remembered for his tireless efforts on behalf of backstretch workers.

The Jake Howard Center opened last July 23 in space donated by the Woodbine Entertainment Group.

The center already houses offices for Kennedy and an employee assistance counselor, a general meeting room, clothing depot, and a computer learning area.