10/22/2009 12:00AM

Favorite's defection opens up Iroquois


ELMONT, N.Y. - The defection of Dance Gal Dance turned the $125,000 Iroquois Stakes for New York-bred filly and mare sprinters into a wide-open contest with 13 entrants on Saturday at Belmont Park.

Dance Gal Dance, the beaten 3-5 favorite in the Union Avenue Stakes at Saratoga, has used her terrific early speed to score 6 wins in 9 starts. Trainer Tim Ritvo was looking forward to running in the Iroquois, until Dance Gal Dance came off the track "a little funny" on Thursday morning.

The misfortune that befell Dance Gal Dance could be a fortuitous opening for a filly such as R Betty Graybull, a daughter of Holy Bull who won a statebred second-level allowance at Belmont last time out for trainer Alan Seewald.

A 3-year-old, R Betty Graybull will be facing older rivals in a stakes for the first time. At 2, she stepped outside the New York-bred ranks, winning the filly division of NATC Futurity at Monmouth Park before running second to Just Jenda, a multiple graded stakes winner, in an overnight stakes at Philadelphia Park.

The Iroquois is seven furlongs, a half-furlong longer than R Betty Graybull has ever raced. Seewald said he feels the added ground will help his filly, who rallied from ninth in her latest victory.

"She's going to really relish the seven-eighths," Seewald said. "It will be a tough race against older, proven horses but she is peaking at the right time."

R Betty Graybull, 2-1-1 in 4 races at Belmont, would benefit from some early speed as she breaks from post 7 with Carlos Marquez Jr. aboard.

Dance Gal Dance would have been the obvious target, a role that might now fall to Rightly So, who carries a three-race winning streak into her first stakes appearance for trainer Tony Dutrow.

Mother Russia, a winner of four New York-bred stakes this year, would be switching from turf to dirt for trainer Linda Rice. The versatile filly has a history off running well on the main track, having logged her first three wins in dirt sprints. Mother Russia was cross-entered in the Grade 3 Pin Oak Valley View Stakes for 3-year-old fillies on the turf on Friday at Keeneland. She landed the outside post in the Iroquois.

Silvercup Baby tries for another stakes win, having surged past Dance Gal Dance to take the Union Avenue at 10-1. It was her third victory in eight starts this season for trainer Carl Domino.