08/17/2005 12:00AM

Ballado Dancer in from Canada for Sapling


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Mark Casse makes an infrequent visit to Monmouth Park on Saturday.

The Woodbine-based trainer has brought in Ballado Dancer for the Grade 3, $150,000 Sapling Stakes, the premier 2-year-old race of the season.

Since 1992, Casse has had 25 starts at Monmouth with two wins. One of those victories came in the Eatontown Handicap with Red Journey in 1992.

"Monmouth has always been one of my favorite places to visit," Casse said. "It's a beautiful spot."

He returns with a colt making his third start, and first away from Woodbine.

Ballado Dancer debuted in the Victoria Stakes, breaking a step slowly before charging up to battle for the lead. He faded to fourth.

Ballado Dancer was a comfortable winner against maidens the next time out, despite not being 100 percent healthy, Casse said.

"The entire barn was battling a little bit of a virus," Casse said. "He had just gotten over it and I thought he was 75 to 80 percent. I thought he would still be tough, and he rewarded us with a nice victory."

Lacking solid options at Woodbine, Casse zeroed in on the Sapling.

"I really think this is a pretty good horse and the Sapling looked like a nice spot," Casse said. "And the Sapling brings a lot of tradition."

Past Sapling winners include Hill Prince, Needles, Carry Back, Buckpasser, Foolish Pleasure, Alydar, Bet Twice, Hansel, and Smoke Glacken.

Ballado Dancer will stretch out to six furlongs after two five-furlong races.

"These are all tests," Casse said. "He just passed his last test and this is an even bigger test."

Ballado Dancer arrived at Monmouth Tuesday night and is bedded down in Linda Rice's barn.

Other probable Sapling entrants, according to stakes coordinator Mike Melendez, include Broadway Ridge, Confront, Doc O Dynamite, The Village Vicar, and either Diabolical or Master of Disaster from trainer Steve Klesaris.

The Pharaoh will not make the Sapling as travel plans from Florida fell through. The runner-up in Calder's Birdonthewire Stakes, The Pharaoh had been slated to fly in Wednesday.

"The company told me Tuesday night that they canceled the flight and that it was rescheduled for Friday," said trainer Manny Azpurua. "I don't want to take a chance flying a 2-year-old that close to the race."

The Pharaoh will now be pointed toward the middle leg of the Florida Stallion Stakes series at Calder, the $125,000 Affirmed Stakes on Sept. 3.

Livermore Valley improving after surgery

Livermore Valley is "doing better" following surgery last Friday to treat colic, according to trainer Jim Ryerson.

Livermore Valley suffered a twisted intestine, which the surgery corrected.

A 2-year-old filly, Livermore Valley remains at the Mid-Atlantic Equine Clinic, and Ryerson said he hopes she can be released shortly.

Livermore Valley was a dominant winner of Monmouth's Colleen Stakes, the prep for the $100,000 Sorority Stakes on Sept. 3.

Giant Wrecker tough off last

Giant Wrecker returned from a two-month freshening to win a first-level allowance race on July 23.

A repeat effort would make him tough to beat in a $41,000 allowance race Friday, scheduled for a mile on the turf.

Giant Wrecker, trained by Mark Hennig, got an 86 Beyer Speed Figure in his last start, the highest last-race Beyer of all horses in the field.

Keeping races on the grass has been a challenge on the chewed-up and heat-stressed course. There was no turf racing Wednesday or Thursday. The feature is the only grass race on the Friday card.

The course will be torn up and replaced after Labor Day in preparation for the 2007 Breeders' Cup.