03/06/2010 12:00AM

Dance With Gable's versatility a key asset

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ARCADIA, Calif. - Six and one-half furlongs on the Santa Anita hillside turf course is a perfect distance for Dance With Gable. Of course, Dance With Gable's list of preferences also includes Hollywood turf, Sacramento dirt, and Golden Gate synthetic.

"He can do just about anything," trainer Mike Machowsky said of the gelding, who has a record of 9 wins in 21 starts and earnings of $260,945.

Sunday at Santa Anita, Dance With Gable will sprint on grass in the $55,000 Joe Hernandez Stakes, race 7 on a nine-race card. An extra race, the Grade 3 Sham Stakes, is race 10. It is scheduled only as a backup in the event the race is not run on Saturday.

Dance With Gable's rivals in the Hernandez include Mr Gruff, a Grade 3 turf sprint winner racing for the first time since April; Victor's Cry, last-out winner of an allowance sprint on the hill; and potential upsetter Gallant Son, a graded-stakes-placed colt who gets a favorable surface change.

Machowsky and partners claimed Dance With Gable for $40,000 last summer.

"We were just looking for a racehorse, and he'd only been on grass once," Machowsky said. In the seven months since being claimed, Dance With Gable has won 3 races from 5 starts, including California-bred stakes at Sacramento and Oak Tree.

"He looked like he could do just about anything," Machowsky said. In his last start Feb. 11, Dance With Gable won a strong second-level turf sprint allowance, and figures for another good trip Sunday under Rafael Bejarano.

"I think we got the right post," Machowsky said, referring to post 8 of 9. A strong effort Sunday would set up Dance With Gable for the Grade 3 San Simeon on April 17.

Mr Gruff won the San Simeon last year, but has not raced since. Ron Ellis trains the 3-for-6 gelding, who has a string of solid works and proved in January 2009 that he runs well following a layoff.

Gallant Son could be overlooked. He is finally returning to grass after futile efforts over surfaces on which he is ineffective.