10/08/2003 11:00PM

Ballerina has nine stakes winners


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - The best field of the year at Hastings has been assembled for Saturday's Grade 3, $150,000 Ballerina Breeders' Cup.

Nine of the 10 horses entered in the 1 1/8-mile Ballerina are stakes winners, including the 2002 horse of the year in British Columbia, Elana d'Amour, and this year's B.C. Breeders' Cup Oaks winner, Raylene. Also entered are Shelby Madison, who has finished first in the last four middle-distance stakes for fillies and mares at Hastings, and Dancewithavixen, the Oaks runner-up and a six-time stakes winner in 2003.

The race is run under scale weight conditions - 121 for 3-year-olds and 124 for older fillies and mares.

The 3-year-olds Raylene and Dancewithavixen appear to be a cut above their older foes.

Raylene, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Tabasco Cat, is the top money-earner in the race and the horse to beat. According to her jockey, Rickey Walcott, she was uncomfortable being bogged down on the rail for most of the Oaks, but when Walcott wheeled her out in the stretch, she exploded to catch Dancewithavixen in the final jump. In Raylene's start before the Oaks, she beat the boys in the Canadian Derby.

She has won all three of her starts on a wet track and the weather report calls for rain this weekend. There should be a good pace for her to close on, and if she can handle shipping back and forth from Alberta for the second time in three weeks, she'll be tough to handle.

"She seems fine," said Rodney Haynes, who trains Raylene for Calmar Stables & Ranch. "She ate up nicely and hopefully she'll run her race. It's a different surface than in Alberta but she should handle a wet track out here."

Dancewithavixen has won 7 of 10 starts this year, mostly under wraps. She lost by a neck in the Oaks, but earned a career high Beyer Figure. She's owned and trained by Tom Longstaff and will be ridden by Felipe Valdez.

Shelby Madison has become the dominant older filly and mare in the province and easily won her two races at nine furlongs. Shelby Madison likes to be in front, though, and last year's Ballerina winner, Grace for You, also does her best running in front and has been very sharp in recent workouts.