02/15/2005 12:00AM

Clean trip may be all Dancing Liebling needs


NEW ORLEANS - Dancing Liebling was tons the best in her last race, but fell a neck short after encountering traffic trouble in the stretch.

Trained by Steve Asmussen, Dancing Liebling gets another shot Thursday at Fair Grounds in a similar race, facing three-other-than fillies and mares with a $62,500 claiming option going one mile on turf.

In her last race, at 1 1/16 miles on the turf Jan. 30, was stopped dead when jockey Donnie Meche tried to guide her along the rail in the stretch. Meche then took her up, swung her to the outside, and they still just missed.

The cutback to a mile may pose a problem for Dancing Liebling, a stretch runner. She has not won at the distance, but a repeat of her last performance should be enough to handle these, and Meche should be able to work out a ground-saving trip from the rail.

Her main rival appears to be , who is 3 for 5 on the grass, including a victory last month in her first start over the course. The 5-year-old Kaylan's Rose is trained by Paul Murphy and ridden by John Jacinto.

Lost Bride is making her first start since December. Trained by Michael Stidham, Lost Bride is 5 for 8 on the turf and will be ridden by Corey Lanerie.

Witch Approval has won on turf and dirt. She finished in a dead heat for third behind Dancing Liebling last time out. Witch Approval will be ridden by Larry Melancon for trainer Dan Peitz.

is a hard-hitting Louisiana-bred who is 4-2-1 in 11 turf starts and won the $80,000 Matchmaker in restricted company last year. She hasn't done as well facing open company, but trainer Troy Young has her in an appropriate spot.

Keeping the Gold has raced only once on the turf, and that was in a Grade 3 stakes where she was beaten less than three lengths over a yielding course. A stakes winner who is also graded stakes placed, the 5-year-old Keeping the Gold is the class of the field, and if the race comes off the turf she will be the likely favorite.

Twilight Gallop finished second to Keeping the Gold two back and was seventh in Dancing Liebling's race last time out.

Once upon a time, Dress to Impress would have easily beaten this field. She has amassed the biggest bankroll on grass of any of these, $161,575 in 14 turf starts (3-1-2). But Dress to Impress went winless last year.