Daz Lin Dawn, a perfect seven of seven in 2017, cleaned up at the BC Thoroughbred Awards, held on Nov. 30, winning each category of eligibility.
“She won all of them. She won top three-year-old filly, BC Horse of the Year and open Horse of the Year. Plus her mother won broodmare of the year. I have a table full of trophies about three-feet high,” said trainer Nancy Betts who co-owns the sophomore filly with JDP Holdings Ltd. and Delton Stable.
The leggy daughter of Popular-Summer Bay, bred in B.C. by John Shone, Jacqui Shone and Samantha Shead, ran the table in 2017 scoring in successive stakes races all at Hastings.
The perfect season is one of two high-profile streaks in Canadian racing this year, the other belonging to Woodbine-based sprinter Pink Lloyd who won all eight of his starts for trainer Robert Tiller.
For Betts, just having her filly on track is a joy, especially given what seemed, briefly, like a tragic start to her career when pulled up by rider Skyler White Shield moments after the start on August 14, 2016 when failing to complete the course.
“She came out of the gate and he said he felt something go,” recalls the 49-year-old Betts. “She came back bucking with the pony and I wasn’t worried at all. I took one look at her and could just tell there was nothing wrong with her. My other horse (Morning Blurs) won the race but I didn’t even go to the winner’s circle. I just grabbed her and went back to the barn. My vet was there within minutes to look her over.”
In all the commotion following the race, White Shield offered his condolences to one of Daz Lin Dawn’s co-owners. The next day the rider came by the barn to ask how Dawn was and if they had to put her down and Betts told him,
“She’s fine. We’re going to have to gallop her because you can barely walk her right now.”
A week later, Daz Lin Dawn posted a sharp breeze to escape the vet’s list and promptly won her next start by nine lengths with jockey Denis Araujo aboard. She would take an allowance race next time out and then finished second in her juvenile season-closing effort to Yukon Belle in the Fantasy Stakes.
That result, one of but two blemishes on Daz Lin Dawn’s impeccable record, still bothers Betts as the filly came into season the week of the race.
“She came into season nine days early which was three days before the stake and she wouldn’t come out of her stall to train,” said Betts. “I managed to get one day of galloping into her in three days and mostly just walked her into it and she ran second. She just came off a bit flat being in season.”
Daz Lin Dawn opened her perfect 2017 season, now in rein to Richard Hamel, with a statement race smashing an 8 ¾-length score in the BC Cup Dogwood Stakes leaving Classic Statement and familiar foe Yukon Belle in her wake.
The result came as no surprise to Betts who often works her young filly in the morning.
“By the time I got to my third five-eighths work with her I knew,” recalls Betts. “One morning, she got challenged by a really nice horse, it wasn’t something I set up, but he was down belly riding, hand riding and she went with him. We hooked up around the turn and opened up about nine lengths on them and then drew off around the turn. The hair on my neck went up. She just re-broke underneath me like we’d been flicked out of the starting gate.”
The dark bay behemoth made a habit of ‘winning’ morning works.
“I worked her so many times myself this spring. I’ll know we’re not going that fast and chirp at her and she’ll just be like, ‘ah whatever,’” grinned Betts. “But, if a horse comes up to her, her whole head turns until they’re up beside her and then she takes off. I don’t pack a whip. I just sit there.”
Sent to post at 3-1 in the Dogwood, Daz Lin Dawn pressed the pace to the half-mile mark of the 6 ½-furlong sprint before drawing clear. Betts even had a flutter on the filly given the generous odds.
“I put $100 down on her for the crew at the barn,” said Betts. “She did it so well. Her time was 1:15.4 for that first stakes race and she wasn’t even blowing in the winner’s circle. She has such huge stamina.”
Victories would follow in the Ross McLeod, the Emerald Downs Handicap, Supernaturel Handicap, Hong Kong
Jockey Club Handicap and CTHS Sales Stakes while stretching out in distance to 1 1/16-miles from the Supernaturel onward.
However, to keep a perfect season intact, the rising star would have to struggle through nine furlongs of a deep, sloppy track to win the B.C. Oaks.
“The last one, the Oaks, was the hardest because the track had changed. All summer we had decent tracks but it was sloppy that day and she’s about 17.1 hands and 1200lbs,” said Betts.
A field of eight was assembled including her rival Yukon Belle who is owned by Edmonton Oilers star centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Right away, there was a sign of pending adversity for the leggy filly.
“When she got on that greasy track, Richard told me she was pissed off because she couldn’t stay on her feet. She was running but spinning her wheels a bit,” said Betts.
Daz Lin Dawn stalked the leaders from fourth in a three-wide trip before rallying four-wide into the stretch turn leaving just enough in reserve to hold off a late bid from the fast skating Yukon Belle.
The neck victory was the shortest winning margin on the season for Daz Lin Dawn.
“She lost a hind shoe because the track was so deep and greasy. She wasn’t tired, she just had her ears pinned back.
She has a temper. She was cheesed off about having to go over a bad track,” said Betts.
While some may point to the fine furlongs as a potential distance limitation, Betts knows better.
“There’s no distance I think she can’t do. She’s so rateable and loves a challenge. She’ll come off the pace, set the pace, she’s really easy that way,” said Betts.
The B.C. bred filly has truly come from humble beginnings to reach the top of the racing game in B.C. Betts got turned onto the family through her relationship with breeders John Shone, Jacqui Shone & Samantha Shead
“I’ve known them for 30 years and used to gallop their horses for them. I bought Daz Lin Dawn’s full brother, Dashing Don, out of a field. They bought the mare (Summer Bay) with Dashing Don at side as a weanling and in foal with Dazzling Dawn,” recalls Betts.
While working at the farm one day, Jacqui texted Betts to go and take a look at Dashing Don and see what she thought of him.
“I went over the fence to look at Don and I ended up buying him for $4,000 and a percentage of his wins,” said Betts.
“I broke him and got him going and he won two in a row to start off. He’s made over $100,000 and is a nice little horse at 15 hands.”
However, acquiring Daz Lin Dawn at the 2015 CTHS Yearling & Mixed Sale took a little more finesse
“When Daz Lin Dawn went through the sale they had a $20K reserve on her and bidding went up to $18,000 and she ended up being a buy back,” said Betts. “I went to the barn and asked if they’d take $15,000 for her and they said, ‘For sure, especially since you did so well with Don’.”
The end result has been a rousing success for both Betts and the B.C. racing industry who have a star they can promote throughout the meet. That connection to local racing fans is one of the main reasons Betts prefers not to travel the talented miss.
“She’s BC-bred and she gets BC bonuses which is quite a bit of money,” started Betts. “Plus, she’s good for our industry. She’s got a fan club that comes out to cheer her on. She has her own hats and t-shirts and there’s a few extra people that come out to see her run.”
And the fan club will have the chance to see Daz Lin Dawn compete again at Hastings in 2018. For now, however, an audience with the queen of B.C. racing, currently on turnout at the breeders’ farm, requires a bag of mints and a bit of patience.
“She’s quite temperamental and we really have to cater to her quite a bit. I go out there with mints and she flicks her head into my pockets looking for them she’s that spoiled,” said Betts. “If you don’t bring them, she’ll get her back up. She’s already broke two wheel barrows. She won’t hurt a person but she has that attitude.”
Namely, a winning attitude.