11/16/2007 12:00AM

Chic Dancer bids farewell in turf sprint

EmailSTICKNEY, Ill. - Chic Dancer, one of Chicago's best year-round turf horses, will be making the final start of her career on Sunday at Hawthorne, and she'll be doing so under unfamiliar conditions. Chic Dancer, 6, is one of 13 fillies and mares entered in the Wooden Star, a $45,000 overnight stakes carded for five furlongs on turf.

Turf, Chic Dancer is well acquainted with, having won 8 of her 20 starts on various grass courses, but mainly at Arlington, where she won the Grade 3 Modesty Handicap in 2006. But five furlongs - that's a whole new ballgame for Chic Dancer.

"There were a couple other places we tried to get her in, but the races didn't go," said trainer Christine Janks. "We've invested a couple months training in her now. The intent is to retire her this year, and this race was really the only thing that was left for her."

Chic Dancer, eighth in the July 21 Modesty in her most recent start, sprinted at the beginning of her career, and wasn't helpless going six furlongs on dirt, said Janks, who nevertheless approaches with some degree of skepticism Chic Dancer's final race before life as a broodmare.

"It's probably not her thing, but you never know," she said.

Chic Dancer has been to the post 24 times, but the filly to beat on Sunday is a relative novice, Clever Strike. Trained by Don Von Hemel, Clever Strike finished second in her career debut last March at Oaklawn, then reeled off two wins there and another at Prairie Meadows before going to the sidelines. Von Hemel said a bone chip was surgically removed from Clever Strike's knee, leading to a lengthy layoff, but Clever Strike was back in action here Nov. 2, winning her fourth straight race, a convincing third-level allowance win on the dirt.

"These horses, you develop them in stages, and this seems like the best stage for her now," Von Hemel said. "We think she'll be a nice filly."

Clever Strike makes her turf debut, but has an excellent grass-sprint pedigree as the offspring of hot sire Smart Strike and a mare by the speedy Clever Trick.

Byenne closed decently to finish third behind Clever Strike last out, and probably is a better horse on turf, but is saddled with a difficult wide draw Sunday.