06/18/2009 12:00AM

Stakes sponsor has high profile


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Smart Surprise and Serenading, two blue-blooded mares owned by Hill 'n' Dale Equine Holdings Inc., figure to run one-two in the $100,000 Hill 'n' Dale Stakes at Woodbine on Saturday.

In addition to their share of the purse, the owners of the top three in the 1 1/16-mile event will receive a free breeding season to a stallion standing at Hill 'n' Dale Farm in Kentucky.

Smart Surprise, a daughter of Smart Strike, was an underachieving maiden until she joined trainer Josie Carroll's Woodbine string last summer. She promptly graduated in her first start on the Polytrack, and then ran second in an allowance before clearing the first allowance condition.

Smart Surprise outran Saskawea while winning her stakes debut in the seven-furlong Bessarabian here in November. Following a layoff Feb. 14, she romped over a sloppy track in the 1 1/16-mile Chou Croute Stakes at Fair Grounds, for which she was awarded a 107 Beyer Figure.

Smart Surprise finished a flat fifth as the favorite in the Grade 3 Azeri Stakes at Oaklawn in March. She cut back to six furlongs April 18 and ran second in the Whimsical, and then won another Grade 3 stakes here most recently, the 6 1/2-furlong Hendrie.

Carroll said she has no qualms with stretching Smart Surprise back out to 1 1/16 miles.

"She's doing very well," said Carroll. "She handled a route extremely well over the winter.""

Serenading was a narrowly beaten second to Bear Now in last year's Hill 'n' Dale. She registered her first stakes victory here last August in the Belle Mahone, before going to the sidelines for eight months.

Serenading resurfaced April 17 in the Grade 3 Doubledogdare Stakes at Keeneland, in which she rallied wide for second behind Indescribable, while leaving the talented Miss Isella in her wake.

Most recently in the Grade 3 Arlington Matron Handicap, Serenading lost all chance when she blew the break. She wound up sixth in the nine-horse field, before being promoted to fifth by disqualification.