02/10/2007 1:00AM

Bare Dancer comes from far back at 14-1


Bare Dancer spent the first five races of her career racing against maiden claimers. But the New York-based filly was tough enough to run down 7-5 favorite Laila's Punch in deep stretch to score a half-length victory in the $60,400 Wide Country Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Laurel Park.

Bare Dancer ($31.80), trained by Gary Contessa, had only three horses beaten after the first six furlongs and was forced to go five wide turning for home. She rallied down the center of the track under Dyn Panell to gain the lead a couple strides from the wire from Laila's Punch, who was racing beyond six furlongs for the first time in her career.

Panell picked up the mount when Mario Pino chose to stick with Bedside Story, a New York shipper who easily won her first start in Maryland a month ago.

"I had a perfect trip," Panell said, "They said to keep her outside and when I popped her on the shoulder she took off. She didn't want to go by the favorite but I hit her left-handed she took care of business."

Bare Dancer, coming off a fourth-place finish in the Busanda at Aqueduct last month, covered the mile on a fast track in 1:40.08.

Wow Me Free, who finished 19 1/2 lengths behind Bare Dancer in the Busanda, came from last to get third, a neck in front of 42-1 shot Ziggly.

Bedside Story, the 8-5 second choice, led for the first six furlongs before fading to fifth.