04/16/2009 12:00AM

Dancing Allstar begins her campaign


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Dancing Allstar, Canada's champion 2-year-old filly in 2007, will play catch me if you can going six furlongs in Saturday's $150,000 Whimsical Stakes at Woodbine. The Grade 3 contest also has lured the crack sprinter-miler Smart Surprise, along with six other fillies and mares.

Dancing Allstar won her first three starts in 2008, all in stakes in Western Canada. She subsequently finished a distant third in the Grade 3 Azalea Stakes at Calder.

Dancing Allstar came up empty in the final furlong after setting a slow pace here in the Aug. 9 Duchess Stakes. She has been idle since finishing up the track Aug. 30 in the Hong Kong Jockey Club Handicap at Hastings.

Trainer Terry Jordan believes Dancing Allstar's grueling trip to Florida cooked her.

"She was laid over at the airport in Chicago for 12 hours," Jordan recalled. "It didn't hurt her physically, but it hurt her mentally. When she got beat in the [Hong Kong], I felt that she needed to go home, rather than flog a dead horse. It paid off, because she's really come around this year. She's bigger and stronger. She's in very good health and she's happy."

Dancing Allstar worked five-eighths in a bullet 59 seconds here April 4 and followed it up with a half-mile bullet breeze in 46.40 a week later.

"She's been training very well," Jordan said. "She started training in Vancouver on the first of February. We did as much as we could with her [at Hastings], and she's been in Toronto since April 1. I think she broke the clock there a couple of times."

Smart Surprise improved dramatically after being turned over to trainer Josie Carroll last fall, winning her maiden and an allowance here on the Polytrack. She won her first stakes Nov. 23 in the seven-furlong Bessarabian and was an easy winner over a sloppy Fair Grounds strip in the 1 1/16-mile Chou Croute Handicap in February.

Smart Surprise is coming off a flat fifth-place finish in the Grade 3 Azeri Stakes at Oaklawn.

"I thought she went into that race in great order, but she didn't really handle the ship and running back so quickly," Carroll said. "I ran her back a bit quickly off a big race off a layoff."

Carroll said she has no qualms with turning Smart Surprise back to six furlongs.

"She's pretty versatile," Carroll explained. "She ran well at that distance before at Woodbine."