05/10/2004 12:00AM

Eventful stretch run in Sprint


CALGARY, Alberta - The first two stakes of the Alberta season were run over two very different surfaces, as a fast track Saturday turned to mud Sunday.

Dance Me Free captured the six-furlong Stampede Park Sprint on Saturday afternoon. Ridden by Desmond Bryan, Dance Me Free enjoyed a tracking trip behind longshot Smooth Cruiser and made his bid at the sixteenth pole.

Smooth Cruiser was in apparent command at that point after setting moderate fractions of 23.40 seconds and 46.40, but jockey Sean Evans found himself with a tired horse who lugged out badly from that point to the wire.

Dance Me Free prevailed by a head, but was forced to endure a long inquiry as several late runners were bothered in deep stretch. The stewards ruled that Smooth Cruiser was responsible for the interference and disqualified him from second to fifth.

Rindanica, who stumbled at the break but was free of trouble after slipping through on the rail turning for home, was moved up to second while They Call Me Cody and Regal Ability also were moved up after being impeded.

Sixthirtyjoe, the second favorite, finished sixth in the field of seven.

On a snowy Sunday afternoon, A Shaky Start, overshadowed by arch-rival Raylene last year, gained a measure of revenge by enjoying what rider Leanne Painter described as a "perfect trip" to capture the six-furlong M.R. Jenkins Memorial over a muddy surface.

Painter never left the rail with A Shaky Start and they snuck through on the inside turning for home to post a 1 1/2-length victory over Raylene, who was fanned extemely wide on the final turn.