10/01/2009 12:00AM

Dancing in Silks will try to run down speed

Benoit & Associates
Dancing in Silks seeks to win his third straight since returning from a long layoff in the California Cup Sprint.

ARCADIA, Calif. - The time off that trainer Carla Gaines gave Dancing in Silks earlier this year has paid dividends. Since returning from a 6 1/2-month layoff, Dancing in Silks has won both his starts, most recently the Pirate's Bounty Stakes at Del Mar on Sept. 9.

In order to run his streak to three straight, Dancing in Silks will have to beat what is perhaps the strongest field on Saturday's California Cup card at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting. Dancing in Silks is in the $100,000 Sprint, which drew nine, including the wickedly fast M One Rifle, Fairplex stakes winner Lit'sgoodlookngray, and the late-running Big Bad Leroybrown, who has won twice in his last five starts.

"It looks like a pretty competitive race," Gaines said. "Hopefully there will be enough pace to set it up for us. M One Rifle looks pretty salty."

Indeed, the six-furlong race could come down to whether M One Rifle gets to cruise on the lead, and whether Dancing in Silks can run him down.

Dancing in Silks, 4, drew well, landing post 3, just outside M One Rifle. His best races have come when he can rally outside from just off the pace. On those occasions when Dancing in Silks has forced the pace from an inside draw, he has not been as effective.

In the Pirate's Bounty, also at six furlongs, Dancing in Silks was perfectly placed in fourth before rallying.

"We gave him a freshening earlier this year because he had been running pretty hard," Gaines said. "He's come back very, very well. He's been training super. One thing I've noticed about him is that he's more composed. When he was a 3-year-old, he was keyed up. He's more professional now."

M One Rifle is the one to catch. He has rattled off three straight wins, including two at Del Mar: the Real Good Deal Stakes for statebreds, and an open second-level allowance that drew a particularly strong field.

M One Rifle is the latest in a series of brilliant sprinters trained by Bruce Headley, who also is part of the partnership that owns and bred M One Rifle. A victory would be especially poignant for Headley, who a little more than a week ago was in Kentucky when his brilliant retired sprinter Kona Gold was injured at the Kentucky Horse Park and euthanized.

Lit'sgoodlookngray paid immediate dividends for trainer Bob Hess Jr. when he won the Governor's Cup at Fairplex on Sept. 23 in his first start since being claimed for $50,000 at Del Mar. This will be his third start since returning from a 6 1/2-month layoff, so further improvement is possible, though he is coming back on short rest.

Big Bad Leroybrown was second in the Governor's Cup. His best race in recent months came in a six-furlong upper-level allowance at Del Mar, when he overcame a slow pace and ran down the leaders.

Candy Pull was second to Dancing in Silks in the Pirate's Bounty.

Bonfante was second in this race in 2007.