01/25/2002 12:00AM

Bedanken takes Dixie Belle

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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Bedanken fought off a late surge by Born to Dance to win the $50,000 Dixie Belle Stakes before an opening day crowd of 18,142 at sunny Oaklawn Park on Friday.

For Rubies finished third, while 3-5 favorite Brown Eyed Beauty finished an even fourth.

Bedanken raced about two lengths behind the pace early in the six-furlong race for 3-year-old fillies. Ridden by Don Pettinger, she took the lead in the stretch and outgamed the ourushing Born to Dance, prevailing by a nose. Bedanken covered the distance over a fast track in 1:12.40, and returned $14.

The Dixie Belle was Bedanken's third straight win in four career starts, and with the $30,000 first-place check, she increased her earnings to $52,590. Trainer Donnie Von Hemel trains Bedanken for owner Pin Oak Stable.