07/04/2002 12:00AM

Woodbine: First time on turf for champ


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Dancethruthedawn and Sweetest Thing, both Sovereign Award winners as 3-year-olds in 2001, will face off in an intriguing matchup Saturday at Woodbine in the $165,600 Dance Smartly Handicap.

Dancethruthedawn, a daughter of 1991 Canadian horse of the year Dance Smartly, will try the grass for the first time in the 1 1/8-mile event. She captured the 2001 Queen's Plate and Labatt Woodbine Oaks, and was voted champion 3-year-old filly honors at year's end.

Dancethruthedawn earned a monster Beyer Speed Figure of 110 when she launched her current campaign with a decisive victory in the Doubledogdare Stakes at Keeneland. She got another 110 Beyer Figure in her next start, when she lost the Grade 3 Pimlico Breeders' Cup Distaff Handicap by a nose to Summer Colony, and she is coming off a lackluster third-place finish as the favorite in the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis Handicap at Churchill Downs.

Robert Landry, who was on board for Dancethruthedawn's maiden win at 2, has the mount Saturday. He believes the turf won't pose a problem for the filly.

"I've worked her on the dirt the last few times, and she's worked very well," said Landry. "Going by the way she moves, I think she'll handle the turf. She just skips over the ground."

Trainer Mark Frostad said a successful turf experience will create more opportunities for Dancethruthedawn.

"If she were to run well here, it would open up an alternative route for her," Frostad said.

Frostad pointed out that Sweetest Thing has grown accustomed to competing at distances of at least

1 3/8 miles, and therefore could be vulnerable at 1 1/8 miles.

Dancethruthedawn is coupled in a Sam-Son Farm entry with last year's Canadian champion older female, Mountain Angel, who finished third last time out in the Grade 2 Nassau Stakes.

Sweetest Thing was voted last year's champion turf filly or mare on the strength of her Breeders' Stakes triumph over males. She finished second or third in four straight graded stakes south of the border over the winter, and then captured the Grade 3 Bewitch Stakes at Keeneland in April.

Sweetest Thing was a fast-closing second, beaten just a nose, most recently in the Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay Handicap at Belmont, and was subsequently sold by trainer Roger Attfield and partners to the Lael Stable. Jim McAleney, her regular rider last year, has the call for Attfield, who remains her trainer.

Rounding out the field for the Grade 3 event are Soundtrack, Darling Katey, Rosthern, Byzantine, and Nymphenburg.

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