10/17/2003 11:00PM

Another country, another win


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Dancal already owned an impressive international portfolio before she arrived at The Meadowlands for Friday's Grade 3, $150,000 Violet Handicap.

The 5-year-old, bred in Ireland, had won races in South Africa and Dubai over the last two seasons, and on Friday she scored a front-running victory for her first North American graded stakes victory.

Dancal moved into Todd Pletcher's barn over the summer and has settled right into the program with two wins in three starts.

"She's a real sweet filly to train and very versatile in the way she races," Pletcher said.

Owner Marlon Aronstam called Pletcher from South Africa to determine his interest in training the mare.

"She wintered in Dubai," Pletcher said. "My good friend Kiaran McLaughlin trains over there, so I e-mailed him and asked him what he thought of her. He said he thought she was nice filly and that I should take her. It turned out he was right."

Dancal ($5.60), with Javier Castellano aboard, won the Violet by two lengths in 1:43.69 for the 1 1/16 miles on the turf. Madeira Mist was second with Something Ventured third.

Dancal's versatility came in handy. Castellano opted to set the pace when no one else assumed the lead.

"I kind of waited to see if anyone wanted to go to the lead," said Castellano. "When no one really committed to it, I decided to send her on. I pretty much sat on her the whole way around. Turning for home she spurted away by a couple of lengths and just cruised under the wire."

The Violet was the final graded stakes of The Meadowlands meet, which concludes Nov. 8.