08/29/2013 12:01PM

Woodbine: Roxy Gap meets Nikkis Smartypants in Seaway Stakes

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Michael Burns
Roxy Gap won last year's Royal North Stakes and returned to finish fourth in that Grade 3 race in July, her only start this year.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Two-time champion Roxy Gap makes her second start off an extended layoff at Woodbine on Saturday, when she squares off against a sharp Nikkis Smartypants over seven furlongs in the Grade 3, $150,000 Seaway Stakes.

Roxy Gap won Sovereign Awards as Canada’s champion female sprinter and champion older female in 2012, during which she won 3 of 9 starts and $523,173. She beat a quality field in the Grade 3 Royal North Stakes, but her best effort may have come in the Grade 2 Nassau Stakes, in which she ran second to Marketing Mix over soft turf.

Roxy Gap brought $850,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky winter mixed sale in February as a broodmare and racing prospect but subsequently was returned to owner Eugene Melnyk.

“Shortly after she was purchased and went back into training, she was not sound, so Eugene took her back,” trainer Mark Casse said. “They never did figure out what happened to her. That’s why she was so long getting started, because she missed some time at the beginning of the year.”

Roxy Gap finished fourth when she came off the sidelines July 28 in the Royal North, an effort with which Casse was satisfied.

“I thought it was okay,” Casse said. “I thought she might run a little better than what she did, but it’s just always tough to predict how they’re going to run off a long layoff. She’s come back and trained well since that race. Hopefully, it will make her move forward.”

Nikkis Smartypants notched her first stakes win in the six-furlong Royal North, scoring by 1 1/2 lengths over good turf. She also prevailed in her June 15 season opener in a six-furlong optional claimer on Polytrack and has an overall record of four wins and a second in six starts.

“I’m not surprised by her success,” trainer Bob Tiller said. “She’s been a runner from Day 1. She’s had a lot of issues, but she’s doing very well right now.”

The stretch-runner Acting Naughty has captured two stakes at the meet, the Grade 3 Whimsical over six furlongs and the seven-furlong Sweet Briar Too. She has been prone to starting slowly, which was the case when she wound up third in the Etobicoke Stakes and fifth in the Grade 3 Hendrie.

Youcan’tcatchme figures to carve out the fractions following her front-running score Aug. 4 going six furlongs in the Etobicoke, for which she got a 91 Beyer Speed Figure. A bounce is possible, however, since that was her first start in more than eight months.

The Maryland shipper Strike the Moon rallied for second in the Etobicoke in her best effort of the year. She has just one win in her last 17 starts.

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