07/28/2004 11:00PM

Intriguing match-up in sprint

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia - A couple of win machines, Dancewithavictor and Buckeye Bates, will square off in the best race at Hastings Saturday, a $25,000 claiming sprint for 3-year-olds and up that drew six horses. It goes as the first race.

Dancewithavictor will likely be a short-priced favorite. A son of Vying Victor, he has won four of his last five starts and is coming off of a front-running 1 1/4-length win over Kompressor Jack in a $35,000 optional race July 3.

Trainer Tom Longstaff, along with Dale West, claimed Dancewithavictor for $12,500 at Hollywood Park July 11, 2003, and the B.C.-bred gelding has turned out to be an excellent investment, earning over $73,000 this year alone. Speed is his greatest asset, and while there are other front-runners in Saturday's race, none of them figure to cause Dancewithavictor much trouble.

Of course the drop to $25,000 after winning at a higher level is a bit of a concern, but Longstaff said, "It was either run him here or in the B.C. Cup Sprint, and the Sprint looks too tough." Felipe Valdez rides Dancewithavictor.

Buckeye Bates scratched out of an easier spot a couple of weeks ago but appears to be back on track as evidenced by a bullet five-furlong move in 59.80 seconds July 4. Raced sparingly throughout his career by trainer Frank Barroby, Buckeye Bates shows up every time, having won 13 of 22 starts and finishing worse than third only once.

He started out the 2004 season with a win for this price April 17, and then finished third to Dancewithavictor in a $35,000 optional race May 15 and third for the same condition May 30.