01/25/2008 12:00AM

Doyouwanttodance best yet for longtime owner-breeders


State boundaries can get blurred for horse people in the Mid-Atlantic region. The 4-year-old filly Doyouwanttodance was bred by a Virginia horse woman who usually sends her mares for foaling to Maryland. Conceived in Maryland, Doyouwantto-dance happens to be a West Virginia-bred.

However, the filly has done all her running outside the region, in Arkansas and Louisiana.

Doyouwanttodance is still owned by her breeders, Aldie, Va., residents Melissa and Rodion Cantacuzene, but is based with trainer Ralph Irwin at Oaklawn Park. When the Cantacuzenes began spending winters in Arkansas, about 10 miles from Oaklawn Park, they wanted to watch their runners compete. Thus their string of horses, normally based at Charles Town, went along, too.

Far from home, Doyouwanttodance has become a running machine. From eight lifetime starts, she extended her winning streak to five races and gained her most important victory to date when storming home to score by nearly three lengths in Oaklawn Park's American Beauty Stakes on Jan. 19.

Doyouwanttodance, a second-generation homebred, is by far the best horse ever campaigned by the Cantacuzenes, according to Melissa Cantacuzene. The couple, who have been breeding horses for about 20 years, are clients of Allen and Audrey Murray's Murmur Farm in Darlington, Md.

Doyouwanttodance's sire, Disco Rico, as well as her grandsire, Marine Brass, stood at Murmur. And Melissa Cantacuzene is quick to note that if it weren't for their great working relationship with the Murrays, they most likely would never have had a runner like Doyouwanttodance.

Before they started breeding to race, the Cantacuzenes experienced quick success from an unlikely source. The first horse campaigned by Rodion Cantacuzene, Sailor's Clue, was named 1980 Maryland-bred steeplechase champion after winning Camden's esteemed Colonial Cup.

As a yearling, Sailor's Clue was given to Rodion Cantacuzene by Melissa's mother, Adelaide Close Riggs. A longtime Maryland breeder whose homebred stakes winners include Zvetlana, Bagetelle, and Woods of Windsor, Riggs had an impressive lineage of her own, as a daughter of Post cereal heiress and socialite Marjorie Merriweather Post, sister to actress Dina Merrill, and aunt to five-time Academy Award-nominated actress Glenn Close.

Riggs, who became a licensed Thoroughbred owner in 1929, thought that Sailor's Clue would make a fine hunter for the Cantacuzenes, who were avid foxhunters. Melissa Cantacuzene was at the time joint-Master of the Middleburg Hunt.

The Cantacuzenes sent Sailor's Clue to A. Ridgely White, former trainer for Paul Mellon's steeplechase stable, for a stab at a racing career. Sailor's Clue went on to win or place in 28 of his 48 starts, and earn nearly $100,000.

The Cantacuzenes haven't had any steeplechase prospects in recent years, primarily because they have been adding speed to their pedigree lines. And Disco Rico, a top sprinting son of longtime Maryland sire Citidancer, provided the perfect source of speed for their mare, Marine Court, the dam of Doyouwanttodance.

Marine Court produced four foals, three of them now winners, before visiting Disco Rico in 2003.

Doyouwanttodance, the first stakes horse for her dam, has an explosive running style reminiscent of her sire. In her five wins at distances from five to six furlongs, she has led at every call but one. Never finishing worse than fourth, Doyouwanttodance now has earnings of $111,880.

Marine Court foaled a filly last year in Maryland by the Murmur Farm sire Louis Quatorze, and is currently in foal to Disco Rico, who has since moved to New York. Marine Court will foal in Kentucky this year, as she is going to be bred back to Kentucky-based stallion Pioneering.

The Cantacuzenes also have Doyouwanttodance's year-older winning half-sister Ski Lift (by Appealing Skier) and current 3-year-old filly Aldie (by Spreebee), who is getting close to her first race. Both are based at Oaklawn.