11/22/2005 12:00AM

'Cherokee' back at winning level


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Cherokee Dancer, who faltered to finish sixth of seven in the Labeeb Stakes here last time out, is cutting back to six furlongs and could be the one to beat in Thursday's optional-claiming feature at Woodbine.

The Labeeb, originally scheduled for a mile on turf on Nov. 5, was run at a mile and 70 yards on the main track four days later because of a cancellation.

"We had wanted to try him on turf; he has some breeding for it," said Jody Hammett, who took over as Cherokee Dancer's trainer when the 3-year-old colt returned from a campaign at Assiniboia Downs this summer.

Staying in the Labeeb despite the surface switch, Cherokee Dancer cut out a wicked pace and weakened.

Before that race, Cherokee Dancer won a six-furlong dash under second-level allowance conditions on Oct. 23. He now returns to that same level, but with a $62,500 claiming tag.

"When I got him this summer he had really bad feet; he had bar shoes on," said Hammett. "Right now, his feet are excellent.

"He's really turned around. He's a nice little colt."

Emile Ramsammy retains the mount on Cherokee Dancer, who will begin from post 3 in the field of seven.

A wake-up prospect in Thursday's feature is Dashing Admiral, a 4-year-old who was a going concern in restricted sprint stakes here last year but has failed to hit the top three in five starts this year.

Dashing Admiral, owned by John and Jessica Pastorek and trained by Sid Attard, was gelded before his last start on Oct. 9, when he ran seventh in a key turf race under Thursday's optional-claiming conditions.

"He was losing weight, so we decided to cut him," said Attard, the leading trainer in races won at the meet. "He looks like he's better."

Dashing Admiral signaled that he might be ready to give a top effort when he worked five furlongs in a bullet 59.80 here Nov. 13.

"When he works good, he's always runs good," said Attard. "We'll see."

Leading rider Emma Wilson, who last rode Dashing Admiral in his 2005 bow, regains the mount.

My Cousin Matt, a major disappointment since finishing third in last year's Breeders' Cup Sprint at Lone Star, runs back for the $62,500 tag after finishing third at this classification last time out.

Todd Kabel will ride My Cousin Matt, who is trained by Scott Fairlie.