Updated on 01/28/2011 2:54PM

Familiar foes clash in Dancing Count Stakes at Laurel

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Three horses who ran well on the same card at Laurel Park three weeks ago will clash with a lot more at stake in Saturday’s $75,000 Dancing Count, a six-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds.

Familiar foes Afternoon Action and Wicked Thunder, separated by a nose in a second-level optional claimer in their most recent meeting, will face Diski Dance, who improved nearly 20 points on the Beyer Speed Figure scale while romping in a $40,000 claimer. All three horses last ran Jan. 8.

Wicked Thunder has never been worse than second in eight starts and has gone off favored in each of his last three races. He battled head to head with Afternoon Action in deep stretch of a six-furlong sprint, a race in which Afternoon Action just got up at the wire. Wicked Thunder, trained and partially owned by Gary Capuano, and the John Rigattieri-trained Afternoon Action both get to carry 116 pounds – six pounds less than last time – while moving up to stakes company for the first time.

Saturday’s race will mark the fourth time Afternoon Action and Wicked Thunder have faced each other since October. In their first meeting, Wicked Thunder prevailed by a half-length. Afternoon Action turned the tables when both horses stretched out to a mile in November and then narrowly got up again three weeks ago.

Diski Dance owns the best last-race Beyer, an 83 that he got for wiring five claiming opponents going 5 1/2 furlongs. Four of his five lifetime starts have been for a claiming tag. The question is whether Diski Dance will regress coming back 21 days after a 19-point Beyer improvement.

“He always trained like a nice horse,” said trainer Cathal Lynch. “He had some issues with a bruised foot but he seems to have overcome it. We ran him for $12,500 to get him eligible for starter allowances. He really seemed to like it when he raced at Laurel – his numbers reflect that – so we’re giving him his first stakes chance here.”

 

The eight-horse field also includes Concealed Identity, who makes his 3-year-old debut after upsetting the Maryland Juvenile Championship six weeks ago. Trained by Eddie Gaudet, Concealed Identify is 2 for 2 in races contested at less than one mile but must concede six pounds to each of his rivals as the 122-pound highweight.

Ram, beaten less than a length by Afternoon Action and Wicked Thunder on Jan. 8, and Lastcallfordisco, a sharp four-length maiden winner at Penn National in mid-December, also merit consideration.