01/21/2002 1:00AM

Dancing upsets Santa Ynez at 18-1

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ARCADIA, Calif. - Dancing, a British import making her first start in this country and on dirt, took advantage of a hot early pace and poor performances by the well-regarded runners in Monday's $150,000 * at Santa Anita and stormed home to win by a half-length.

With Gary Stevens riding, Dancing rallied from last in the eight-horse field and got up in the final yards to win the Grade 2, seven-furlong race for 3-year-old fillies. She was the longest shot in the field at 18-1 and paid $38 to win. Respectful, a 6-1 shot, was second, a half-length in front of 9-1 shot Lady George.

Candor, the 7-2 second choice, was sixth, and 6-5 favorite Ayanna faded to finish last.

Rich Musique and Ayanna sped through fractions of 22.18 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 44.66 for the half. The pace took its toll, however, with the final furlong being run in more than 13 seconds. Dancing, who broke slowly, was kept wide by Stevens, and she came charging down the middle of the course to win. She was timed in 1:23.07 for seven furlongs on the fast main track.

Dancing had won once in three starts last year in Ireland before her owner, Howard Baker, sent her to the United States and trainer Jenine Sahadi. It was Sahadi's intention to run Dancing in an allowance race on the turf, but Baker insisted on running in the Santa Ynez.

"Thank God you were a pain," Sahadi said to Baker after the race.

"There wasn't much discussion about it," Sahadi added. "He said he wanted to run on Monday. I told him to have a nice day, and I hung up the phone."

Baker, a California resident, purchased Dancing as a weanling at Tattersalls for the equivalent of a little more than $40,000. A daughter of Spectrum, a Rainbow Quest stallion, she made $90,000 in the Santa Ynez.

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