Filly cutting shapes just like mum
Just Dance has inherited plenty of her mum's ability, according to Hamilton trainer David Greene, who will saddle the unbeaten Tavistock filly in Saturday's Listed Trevor & Corallie Eagle Memorial (1500m) at Te Aroha.
Greene prepared Just Dance's dam Stolen Dance for much of her career, including a win in the Gr.3 Eagle Technology Stakes (1600m) at the corresponding meeting in 2015, and said the legacy was strong with the filly.
"This filly is a lot like her mum. She's got that same nervous energy, though she's probably not as highly-strung as Stolen Dance was," Greene said.
"She doesn't like being fussed over but she's a good eater and she's really professional in her trackwork. Let's hope she can get to the level that her mum did.
"It's a really enjoyable aspect of what we do - training horses out of mares we've trained before, particularly stable favourites like Stolen Dance was. You get a bit of a buzz as soon as they come into the stable and they become stable favourites pretty quickly. "
As a daughter of Gr.1 Thorndon Mile (1600m) winner Stolen Dance, Just Dance is already a valuable broodmare prospect and Greene is keen to enhance that by securing black-type for her pedigree page through a top-three finish at stakes level.
"Ticking off a bit of black-type is the first goal, so if she happened to run in the first three on Saturday, we might be able to be a bit more conservative and go straight into an Eight Carat with four weeks between races," Greene said, referencing the Gr.2 Jamieson Park Eight Carat Classic (1600m) at Ellerslie on Boxing Day.
"If she ran well without being in the first three, we might look at going down to Awapuni for the Eulogy Stakes (1600m, Group Three on December 11) and try and tick off the black-type there.
"She's working towards the Derby or the Oaks long-term. She'll get a mile and a half and I think she'll be pretty deadly once she gets to 2000m plus."
Just Dance was an impressive 2-½ length winner at Te Rapa on debut earlier this month, beating home subsequent winners Rekindled Express, Miss Madison and Giacomo.
"She's taken a lot of improvement out of the run and it's been hard to fault what she's done since," Greene said.
"We had hoped to have her up a bit earlier in the spring but she was set back with the wet tracks. It was a really good run for a horse having her first start.
"She's always shown plenty of gate speed in her trials but she got a bit further than what I thought she would. She had to work her way around some traffic problems there at one stage but she was professional enough to overcome it.
"Her last 100m was really impressive, just the way she ran away from them, and the form has stacked up from the horses in behind her as well."
TAB bookmakers have made Just Dance a $10 fifth favourite in a market headed by last-start Gr.2 Sarten Memorial (1400m) winner Pareanui Bay at $2.70 and La Crique at $3.60.
"There's a couple of pretty decent horses in there to be coming up against at just her second start," Greene said.
"We're not worried about the quality she's facing but sometimes in these small three-year-old fields, they only go along at moderate speed and then sprint off the corner, which wouldn't suit her. She's definitely more of a staying prospect so if they go quick on Saturday and it turns into a grind, then she'll be flying the last furlong."
Greene will also produce promising filly Marcella, a last-start Te Aroha winner, and last-start Te Rapa runner-up Finest Wine on the same programme.
"While Marcella is a little green with her racing manners, she's got black-type potential as well. Facing the older horses in 65 grade on a Saturday for the first time can be tricky at times for an inexperienced horse but the talent is definitely there," he said.
"She might be another one that if she performed well on Saturday, we could look to go down to the Eulogy with as well.
"Finest Wine is overdue. She's racing well and she's probably the best winning chance for the stable on Saturday."
While Greene managed to quinella last week's Gr.3 Counties Cup (2100m) at Te Rapa, he's likely to have neither contest next month's Gr.3 SkyCity Hamilton Waikato Cup (2400m) after an injury concern with Justamaiz and a planned break for Judy's Song.
"Justamaiz has a little bit of heat in a leg so he's having a few quiet days at the moment and while it's not definite, it's looking like he'll have to go out for a spell. The Waikato Cup is looking questionable at this stage," Greene said.
"The Counties Cup was a target race for Judy's Song. She'll have a short break now and come back to target some of those fillies and mares races in the autumn, the Travis Stakes (2000m, Group Two at Te Rapa in April) as the main goal."