07/30/2010 11:06PM

Canadian Ballet holds off Out Post in Jennie Wade


Canadian Ballet, a three-time stakes winner last season but 0 for 2 so far this year, held off Out Post by a neck to win Friday night’s $100,000 Jennie Wade Handicap at Penn National Race Course.

It was the first winner locally for New York-based trainer Linda Rice, who began her career at Penn National as an exercise rider and assistant trainer to her father, Clyde Rice, before going out on her own in 1987.

The 5-year-old Canadian Ballet ($4.20), the favorite in a field of seven fillies and mares, opened up a 1.5-length lead under Stewart Elliott and managed to fend off Out Post, a 4-year-old filly who was making her stakes debut. Out Post finished three-quarters of a length in front of 11-1 longshot If Not for Lust.

Libor Lady, the morning-line favorite, was one of two early scratches.

Canadian Ballet, now 8 for 20 lifetime, completed the five furlongs on firm turf in a swift 55.64 seconds. Her three wins last year were highlighted by the $200,000 Turf Amazon at Philadelphia Park.

* First Ascent ($25.80), winless in eight starts since October 2008, prevailed in a four-horse photo to win the $75,000 Red Carpet for fillies and mares.

A 6-year-old mare making just her second start since May 2009, First Ascent led for most of the 1 1/16-mile race, but Sea Wind, the 6-5 favorite, put her head in front of First Ascent at the eighth pole. First Ascent, under Luis Garcia, battled back, however, and got up by a neck over Choice Play, who was a nose in front of Sea Wind. Theda’s Smile missed third by a neck.

Trained by Leigh Delacour, First Ascent covered the distance in 1:41.51 while winning for the fifth time in 18 lifetime starts. Her previous best stakes finish was a second in the 2009 Dahlia at Laurel Park.

* Come Sunday, last of four with a furlong remaining, made up a seven-length deficit to win the $75,000 Femme Fatale for 3-year-old filllies.

Making her stakes debut after winning three in a row at Philadelphia Park, Come Sunday ($11.20), under Stewart Elliott, rallied boldly in deep stretch to overtake Angels in Arms by a neck while completing six furlongs on the main track in 1:10.59.  Offlee Blessed finished third, followed by Visavis, the 4-5 favorite on the basis of her second-place finish in the Grade 3 Eight Belles at Churchill Downs on the Kentucky Derby undercard.

Trained by John Servis, Come Sunday is now 5 for 10 lifetime. Her previous three wins came for a $25,000 claiming tag, a starter allowance, and a first-level allowance.