07/14/2008 12:00AM

Dance Hall Days eyes Monmouth Oaks


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Dance Hall Days showed a lot of heart in her stakes debut, winning the $70,000 Serena's Song for 3-year-old fillies Sunday at Monmouth Park.

Her neck win, which came after battling between and through rivals, might be enough to send her to the meet's top event for the division: the Grade 3, $150,000 Monmouth Oaks on Aug. 9.

The Serena's Song was the second straight win for Dance Hall Days, both at Monmouth. She has blossomed this summer for trainer Tony Dutrow.

"Obviously, everyone came away happy and impressed with her effort and performance," Dutrow said. "She showed versatility in more ways than one, and her courage won her the race. She really likes it there at Monmouth Park, and we plan on keeping her there.

"The Serena's Song was a tall order. She stepped it up. The Oaks would be another tall order and at this point, we'll pay attention to that race. We want to stay realistic. If she had a fighting chance in the Oaks, it would be reasonable to take another chance."

The consecutive wins for Dance Hall Days, who has a record of 3 for 7, followed a freshening after a fourth-place finish at Delaware Park in early May.

"She had lost some weight, and we could see that she wasn't doing fantastic," Dutrow said. "We sent her to Monmouth, and she really took to things over there."

Lower odds for Bridled West

Bridled West lit up the toteboard and blew a lot of bettors out of the water when he paid $185.60 to win here June 29.

He returns to action Wednesday in the $51,000 second-level allowance feature for New Jersey-breds going one mile and 70 yards.

The price should be much lower this time on the 3-year-old colt, who eked out the upset by a neck in the first-level allowance.

"I couldn't believe that price," trainer Charlie Harvatt said. "He finished fifth the race before after getting pinched at the start. I was shocked, but I was pleased."

It was a much-improved effort in terms of Beyer Speed Figures. Bridled West earned a 76, the best last-race Beyer in the field on Wednesday - and a figure 14 points higher than his previous best.

Harvatt could see the colt develop against open company at Philadelphia Park over the winter.

"He started really improving when I started stretching him out," Harvatt said. "I wasted a few races with him last season as a 2-year-old. He's 17 hands high, a big horse, and here I'm running him five furlongs. When I got to Philadelphia, I started to stretch him out, where he belongs."

Pedro Cotto Jr. has the return call.

Hesse purse rises to $100,000

The purse for the Charles Hesse III Handicap, the top New Jersey-bred race on the Haskell Day undercard, has been increased to $100,000.

Marianne Hesse, Charles's widow, donated $40,000 to increase the purse from the listed $60,000 for the mile and 70-yard race.

"Charlie and Marianne Hesse have been great contributors to New Jersey's racing program for more than 30 years," said Mike Dempsey, Monmouth's director of racing. "This is just the latest example of their generosity."

The Hesses, who lived in Leonardo, N.J., raced as the Char-Mari Stable for 30 years. Their top horses included Park Avenue Ball, a New Jersey-bred who won more than $1 million, and Storm Tower, who captured the Fountain of Youth Stakes and the Wood Memorial in 1993.

Hesse, whose father built the original Monmouth racing strip in 1946, died in 2006.