TORONTO– You can’t tell the story of Canadian thoroughbred racing without the name Sam-Son Farm.
Established in 1972 by Ernie Samuel, the legendary operation has won five Queen’s Plates, bred, and or campaigned Canadian Triple Crown winner Dance Smartly, influential sire Smart Strike, Breeders’ Cup winner Chief Bearhart, Eclipse Award winner Sky Classic, and many other champions.
On Sunday, Dancin in Da’nile will attempt to add one final chapter to Sam-Son’s story. The Milton, Ont., farm began a dispersal of its breeding and racing stock in 2020, and Dancin in Da’nile is their last chance to win Canada’s most storied race.
“It’s our last Plate, which is exciting. Words couldn’t describe winning at this point, but it’s certainly in the back of my mind,” said Sam-Son Racing Manager Tom Zwiesler. “Getting into this race is so tough, but I think for the family, getting here is not what we want. We’d love to see a win, but what will be written after the race is yet to come, and it will be a very exciting day for everyone involved.”
Dancin in Da’nile is directly descended from Sam-Son’s greatest champion, Dance Smartly, who is his fourth dam.
Dance Smartly won the Canadian Triple Crown in 1991 during an undefeated season that was capped with a win in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. She is in both the Canadian and US Horse Racing Hall of Fame.
As prolific of a racehorse as Dance Smartly was, she was just as outstanding of a broodmare. She produced two Queen’s Plate winners, including Dancin in Da’nile’s third dam, Dancethrudawn.
“If you look back at the history,” said Zwiesler. “Any time we have a Dance Smartly line brought down to train you would just have a special appreciation for what the family had done in bringing this line along.”
Dancin in Da’nile is by Dance Again, one of Zwiesler’s favourite mares from Sam-Son’s distinguished broodmare band. He has a record of 1-1-1 from five career starts and is looking to rebound from a troubled trip last time out in the Plate Trial.
“He took a stumble out of the gate, and was put up near the lead, and I don’t think that was his style at all,” said Zwiesler. “So, I’m hoping for a little more relaxed horse. Maybe get buried a little bit and drop his head. He has a beautiful stride when he gallops, so we are hoping to take the edginess off him, have him relax early, and hopefully when they turn for home, he’s in a position where he can keep going.”
If Dancin in Da’nile does emerge victorious on Sunday, he will add to Sam-Son Farm’s already sterling legacy built by the Samuel-Balaz family.
“They were the most spectacular people to be involved with,” said Zwiesler. “Always the horse was the first thing. Whatever the horse needed, they would do. The family has done more for myself and my family than I could ever imagine. The ride they have taken us on has been spectacular.”
So, when Dancin in Da’nile breaks from post 11 in the 163rd running of the Queen’s Plate he’ll be carrying 126 pounds like every other colt, but also the weight of the chance to do something special and send a Sam-Son’s famous red and gold silks out on top.
“I am hoping for a lot of luck, as far as the racing gods go,” said Zswiesler “I am hoping they look down on us and shine.”
Photo: Dancin in Da’nile breaks his maiden August 29, 2021 at Woodbine Racetrack (Michael Burns Photo)