By Jon Lees
Canada: Michael Dickinson recorded his biggest win since he came out of retirement to rejoin the training ranks when Theodora B. captured the G2 Dance Smartly at Woodbine on Saturday.
The legendary trainer has won three G3 races – all on the Tapeta surface he invented – since his return, but Theodora B.’s turf victory in the Can$175,000 was his best result since Tapit won the Wood Memorial in 2004.
Representing owner-breeder George Strawbridge’s Augustin Stable, Theodora B. made all the running under Justin Stein to hold the Chad Brown runner and favourite Etoile and score by three-quarters of a length at odds of 11-1.
“I knew someone would have to really be running, another horse would have to really be running to get by her,” said Stein. “She was giving me everything she had, and I had a lot of horse left in the tank. She showed her pump the whole way down the stretch.”
“We wanted to win, for sure,” continued Stein. “Pretty confident in her; I galloped her yesterday and she’s a real efficient mover, big long stride. We were covering a lot of ground but she wasn’t doing much in the gallop, so I knew what I had today.
“I talked to the trainer on the way in and unfortunately our plans at the beginning of the race were mixed up. She wanted to lead and I had to go with it but she just kept running – a lot of power.”
Yorkshireman Dickinson is best-known in Britain for his jumps exploits, including training the first five finishers in the 1983 Cheltenham Gold Cup and training a record 12 winners in a day, on Boxing Day in 1982.
He switched to training Flat horses for Robert Sangster from Manton before moving to the US to set up a new base in Maryland.
In the US he was nicknamed the ‘Mad Genius’ and earned acclaim for his training of Da Hoss, who won the Breeders’ Cup Mile in 1996 and then again two years later having had just one race in between. He retired in 2008, renewing his licence in 2015.
• Learn more about racing at Canada’s premier venue at the Woodbine website