01/22/2010 1:00AM

Dancing in Silks needs a start


ARCADIA, Calif. - Dancing in Silks went from being a competent statebred runner to a Breeders' Cup Sprint winner and Eclipse Award finalist in 2009.

Dancing in Silks did not win the sprint championship, but this year owner Ken Kinakin and trainer Carla Gaines are determined to prove that the 5-year-old belongs at that level. They have the Golden Shaheen in Dubai in March as an early-season goal, but need a race this month to keep Dancing in Silks on schedule.

The first option is Saturday's $150,000 Palos Verdes Handicap at Santa Anita, over the same six furlongs on the same Pro-Ride surface as Dancing in Silks's 25-1 upset in the BC Sprint in November. The second option is the $200,000 Sunshine Millions Sprint at Gulfstream Park next Saturday.

Gaines wants to stay home, but is worried about the Santa Anita track. Santa Anita canceled racing on Monday, Thursday, and Friday this week because the track failed to drain sufficiently after heavy rain.

"I don't know what will happen with the track," she said.

Other factors concern Gaines. Dancing in Silks will break from the rail and spots eight rivals from three to 10 pounds.

"I'm not crazy about the 1 hole," Gaines said. "I'm not crazy about spotting some of them 10 pounds."

Dancing in Silks did not become the 123-pound topweight by accident. He has won four consecutive races, including three stakes - the Pirate's Bounty Stakes at Del Mar, the California Cup Sprint, and the BC Sprint. In the BC Sprint, he closed from fourth with a three-wide rally to win by a nose over Crown of Thorns.

"We gave him a break after the Breeders' Cup, and he seems to have relished it," Gaines said. "He just kept improving throughout the year and obviously the ultimate performance was the Breeders' Cup. Hopefully, he'll come back to that."

Dancing in Silks faces a strong field in the Palos Verdes. M One Rifle, the winner of the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes over seven furlongs here on Dec. 26, will be a pace factor. Back in October, Dancing in Silks beat M One Rifle by a nose in the Cal Cup Sprint.

Kinsale King, the winner of the Grade 3 Vernon Underwood Stakes at Hollywood Park last month, will also be near the front. A 5-year-old gelding, he has won his last two starts.