02/16/2010 12:00AM

Looking for big rebound with Dancing in Silks


ARCADIA, Calif. - The list of horses that Breeders' Cup Sprint winner Dancing in Silks joined last month is one that trainer Carla Gaines wanted to avoid.

Dancing in Silks is one of five horses who won a Breeders' Cup race at Santa Anita last fall but returned to lose their next start. He was third in the Grade 2 Palos Verdes Handicap at Santa Anita last month.

The defeat has not derailed the long-term plans that Gaines and owner Ken Kinakin have for Dancing in Silks this spring: the $2 million Golden Shaheen in Dubai on March 27. To get there, Gaines has added Saturday's $150,000 San Carlos Handicap at Santa Anita to Dancing in Silks's schedule.

A win on Saturday in the Grade 2 San Carlos over seven furlongs will put the Palos Verdes setback out of people's minds, and send Dancing in Silks to Dubai with a 2010 stakes win in search of a win as lucrative as the BC Sprint last November.

"I'm hoping he can come back to that level," Gaines said.

Judging from Dancing in Silks's remarkable rise from allowance-class runner last year to multiple stakes winner in the fall, there is no reason why the 5-year-old gelding cannot continue to excel. Gaines has trained Dancing in Silks to a record of 7 wins in 14 starts and earnings of $1,465,622, and four of those wins have come since August.

The difference is all about attitude, she says.

At 3 in 2008, Dancing in Silks was good, but not great. He won three races and placed in three stakes, two for statebreds. He was not a content horse, Gaines said.

"The difference you see in him is mental maturity," Gaines said. "He's taking his races much better mentally. Before when he was schooling he would wash out, nervous. In races, he'd draw the inside and break out and go. Now, he's more relaxed in the races. That's the mark of a better athlete, not just the physical aspect, but the mental stability, and I think that's what's developed."

Dancing in Silks finished fourth in the 2009 Sunshine Millions Sprint last January, earning a vacation. He was plagued by sore feet, Gaines said.

"He'd had a full year of racing, and we thought giving him a rest would do him some good," she said.

Kinakin, a resident of Vancouver, British Columbia, and Gaines saw rapid improvement when Dancing in Silks returned to racing at Del Mar in August. He won an optional claimer over five furlongs on turf by a neck on Aug. 14 in his comeback and followed with his first stakes win in the Pirate's Bounty Stakes over six furlongs on the main track on Sept. 9, the meeting's closing day.

Six-furlong races were Dancing in Silks's specialty last fall. He won the California Cup Sprint over that distance at Santa Anita on Oct. 3, a victory that launched discussions whether to supplement Dancing in Silks to the Breeders' Cup. Gaines was slightly against it, worried about the $180,000 supplemental fee. Kinakin was bolder.

"I had a gut feeling," Kinakin said, recalling his pre-Breeders' Cup thoughts. "He's in the backyard of the Breeders' Cup, and it's a once-in-a-lifetime dream."

Bettors were not as optimistic. Dismissed at 25-1, Dancing in Silks closed from fourth in the BC Sprint to win by a nose over Crown of Thorns.

"To me, in that race, he had to improve again," Gaines said. "How many times in this game do things go your way at the right time. The Breeders' Cup is an amazing accomplishment.

"It was the greatest moment of my life. You train horses for 25 years, and a lot of people don't get it done. They don't have the chance."

For Kinakin, who owns a company that provides breathing supplements to people and horses, the Breeders' Cup win was even more remarkable. Dancing in Silks is the only horse he has in training.

Kinakin, 48, has been a Thoroughbred owner since 2000. He thought it was a big deal to have a starter in the British Columbia Derby at Hastings Park in 2003, and it was. That's the biggest race in his hometown.

His latest horse may take him to the other side of the world next month, and, perhaps, back to the Breeders' Cup Sprint, which is at Churchill Downs in November. Meanwhile, Kinakin has no plans to add to his stable.

"To me, it's like a child," he said. "How can you look after 10 kids?

"It's about having a horse and looking after him. I'm a rookie at this. I started in 2000. In 2003, I had a horse that went to the BC Derby. I ended up with Dancing in Silks. My intentions were to go to California. It's been a great ride and I hope it will continue. I think we'll win this weekend."