10/07/2010 3:16PM

Dancing in Silks at pivotal moment

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Benoit & Associates
Dancing in Silks, Joel Rosario up, wins the 2009 Breeders' Cup Sprint.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – There is still time for Dancing in Silks to salvage his 2010 season.

The winner of the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Sprint in a 25-1 upset, Dancing in Silks has lost three subsequent starts, making his appearance in Saturday’s $250,000 Ancient Title Stakes at Hollywood Park pivotal for owner Ken Kinakin and trainer Carla Gaines’s plans for the rest of the year.

Gaines said that Dancing in Silks “has to put up a very good race” in the Ancient Title to justify a trip to the BC Sprint at Churchill Downs on Nov. 6. Otherwise, smaller stakes in California this fall will be the objective.

“I’m hoping to see the horse he was last year before the Breeders’ Cup,” Gaines said.

The Grade 1 Ancient Title, run over six furlongs, is a key prep for the BC Sprint, and a Win and You’re In race guaranteeing a spot in it. The field of eight includes the 2010 stakes winners Cost of Freedom, E Z’s Gentlemen, Gato Go Win, and Smiling Tiger. The Ancient Title is the eighth race on a nine-race program that includes the $150,000 Oak Tree Mile, a prep for the BC Mile on turf on Nov. 6.

Dancing in Silks has drawn the outside post and will be ridden by Joel Rosario, the 5-year-old gelding’s regular rider. Dancing in Silks has made three starts this year, finishing third in the Palos Verdes Handicap in January and fifth in the San Carlos Handicap in February before being turned out for the rest of the winter and spring.

In his comeback race in the restricted Pirate’s Bounty Stakes at Del Mar on Sept. 8, he finished fourth in a field of six, closing from fifth to finish 2 3-4 lengths behind Gato Go Win.

“I was expecting a better run at Del Mar,” Gaines said. “He broke awfully and he was taken to the outside. He lost a ton of ground. He was seven or eight lengths back. He didn’t show a lot of interest in the lane, but he did close ground.”

Dancing in Silks has had quick workouts at Hollywood Park in recent weeks, which gives Gaines some comfort.

“He’s worked well on this racetrack,” Gaines said. “I don’t want to make excuses. He’s won races at Del Mar, but it’s not his favorite track.”

Gato Go Win is a threat to win the race, but unlikely to start in the BC Sprint, trainer Robert Troeger said. Gato Go Win prefers synthetic tracks, and Troeger said on Wednesday that the 4-year-old colt would not start on Churchill’s dirt surface.

Gato Go Win’s victory in the Pirate’s Bounty was his first stakes win and was preceded by two comprehensive losses in graded stakes on dirt at Belmont Park and Calder during the spring and summer.

“We’re stepping up, but if there is a time to do it, it’s right now,” Troeger said. “He is really good right now.”

Three stakes winners at the spring-summer meeting here are part of the field – the 3-year-old Smiling Tiger (Laz Barrera Memorial Stakes in May), Cost of Freedom (Los Angeles Handicap in June), and E Z’s Gentlemen (the Triple Bend Handicap in July).

Smiling Tiger was also entered in the Gallant Bob Stakes at Parx Racing at Philadelphia Park on Saturday, but trainer Jeff Bonde said on Thursday that Smiling Tiger will start in the Ancient Title.

Cost of Freedom is making his third consecutive appearance in the Ancient Title following a win in 2008 and a fourth in 2009. He was third in the 2009 BC Sprint.

Since the Los Angeles Handicap, Cost of Freedom was a troubled fifth in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Stakes at Del Mar on Aug. 1 after a poor start, and fourth, beaten a half-length, in his turf debut in the Green Flash Handicap on Aug. 18.

“We’re looking for redemption,” trainer John Sadler said. “He got eliminated in the Bing Crosby. “He ran well on the turf coming back in a short time. We’re going back to what we know he wants to do.”