02/26/2009 12:00AM

Dance Caller heads Mountain Valley


Oaklawn Park offers a change of pace from the Triple Crown prep hoopla on Saturday, featuring 3-year-old stakes horses of a different kind - sprinters. The race is the $50,000 Mountain Valley, which will be run at six furlongs, and for some in the field the distance is perfect, chief among them Dance Caller.

"I think he's kind of bred to be a sprinter," said his trainer, Bob Holthus. "You might get him to go a mile or a little farther, but I think he is a better sprinter than he is anything else."

Dance Caller, a son of Concorde's Tune, revealed his prowess at one turn in his last start, when he powered to a 3 3/4-length win in an allowance here Feb. 1. He ran the six furlongs in a sharp 1:10.40, and earned a Beyer Figure of 89 - the best last-race number in the Mountain Valley.

"His last race, I thought it was very impressive," Holthus said. "He kind of made the pace and finished well and drew off at the end. If he runs that race back, I think he'll be very tough."

Leading rider Terry Thompson has the mount on the Frank Fletcher-owned Dance Caller, whose other win also came at the six-furlong distance of the Mountain Valley.

Big Push invades from Fair Grounds, and if a couple of photos had gone his way over the past few months, he'd be a two-time stakes winner heading into the Mountain Valley.

"Instead, he's two-time stakes-placed," said his trainer, Richie Scherer.

Big Push was second by a head in the $60,000 Black Gold at 5 1/2 furlongs on turf at Fair Grounds in his last start Jan. 31. He also was second in the $60,000 Sugar Bowl at six furlongs at Fair Grounds on Dec. 20. He traveled to Oaklawn on Thursday.

"The timing was right for this," Scherer said of targeting the Mountain Valley. "He ran four weeks ago, came out of his last race in good order. And he's proven at the distance."

Big Push, whose two wins are at six furlongs, will be ridden by Jesse Campbell.

Bertsgoldenmissile cuts back to one turn after finishing fourth in the $50,000 Smarty Jones at a mile here Jan. 19. Lyin' Heart, who was second in the Grade 3 Bashford Manor at Churchill last July, makes his first start of the year in the Mountain Valley.