07/26/2002 12:00AM

Dancethruthedawn looking for that breakthrough


PHOENIX - Dancethruthedawn is the putt that sits on the lip. An Indiana Jones reaching into the crevasse for the Holy Grail but unable to touch it.

Dancethruthedawn is 6 for 13, earning over $1.3 million, and won Canada's Queen's Plate. She's a beautifully bred daughter of the great mare Dance Smartly, and has hinted at immense ability. But she has failed to break through in big races like the Kentucky Oaks and Alabama. She nearly beat the East's top filly, Summer Colony, in the Pimlico Distaff, losing by a mere nose. She followed that with a third behind Spain and With Ability in the Fleur de Lis at Churchill.

Sunday's Grade 1 Go for Wand at Saratoga gives her a chance to finally prove herself. This 1 1/8-mile, $250,000 event for fillies and mares is loaded with hurdles. Atelier showed a new dimension when she won the Molly Pitcher, pulling herself to the lead heading into the backstretch. Grade 1 winner Miss Linda comes back from a hock infection. Transcendental closed strongly in the Ogden Phipps and gave winner Raging Fever a legitimate scare. With Ability beat Dancethruthedawn in the Fleur de Lis, and Forest Secrets was significantly troubled in that race.

So Dancethruthedawn has her work cut out for her. But she has versatility, which figures to be vital in the race. Miss Linda appears to be the main speed, though With Ability will hardly be far away. Dancethruthedawn has the speed to gain position behind them, the ability to settle in and to finish. She's not a speedster, but she's also not a dyed-in-the-wool deep closer who's at the mercy of pace and traffic.

She has had other chances to crack into the big time and they've slipped away. She is like the golfer Phil Mickelson in a major. I fully expect Mickelson to one day break through, and I likewise expect Dancethruthedawn to grab the spotlight at some point. And what bigger stage than a Grade 1 race at Saratoga with everybody watching?

He's Sarafantastic

A couple of weeks ago I laid out a case that Sarafan would be a huge threat in Sunday's Grade 1 Eddie Read at Del Mar and in the Arlington Million next month. Sarafan is due for some luck after being troubled significantly in the Grade 1 Charlie Whittingham. He has beaten the heavy favorite, Beat Hollow, before in the Explosive Bid at Fair Grounds. And he returns to his favorite distance after running third in the United Nations at 1 3/8 miles.

Now there's even another reason to like him Sunday. While Beat Hollow is no doubt the best turf horse in the country, he has had things pretty good in his wins in the Woodford Reserve and Manhattan. In the Woodford Reserve he got a dream trip stalking Climate, a fast horse who has yet to prove he belonged. Climate set the pace and faltered; Beat Hollow took over and won nicely. In the Manhattan there was no speed to speak of, so Beat Hollow took the lead right out of the gate, set his pace and won for fun.

But the situation may be different Sunday. Not only is there other speed signed up to prevent Beat Hollow from making an easy lead, but this time it's proven speed.

Last year's Eddie Read winner, Redattore, is back for more and he is a tough customer.

Beat Hollow is so good he can settle, sit, and strike. But he will have to work all the way around, and that could soften him up, just enough for Sarafan to come blasting home late to get him. That's the way Sarafan beat Beat Hollow in the Explosive Bid in March. Deja vu?