03/24/2010 11:00PM

Looks like patience may pay with Tidal Dance in Ladies

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - After watching Tidal Dance record career-best speed figures in winning the Affectionately Stakes here two months ago, trainer Mike Hushion wanted to be cautious about when to bring the 5-year-old mare back to the races.

Hushion passed several opportunities to await Saturday's $100,000 Ladies Stakes at Aqueduct. Judging by the field she caught in the 139th running of the Ladies, Hushion's patience may prove virtuous.

With 2 victories in her last 3 starts and a running style that figures to put her on or near the lead in a relatively paceless affair, Tidal Dance looms the horse to beat in the Ladies. With only five horses in the field, the Ladies is carded as the fourth race on a 10-race program and will not be part of the late pick four, which has a guaranteed pool of $250,000.

Tidal Dance made a big move around the far turn and exploded turning for home to win the Affectionately by 2 1/2 lengths on Jan. 17. She earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 91 and the best sheet number of her career in that race. Hushion and owner Marc Ferrell, fearing a regression, wanted to wait before running Tidal Dance back even though she showed no signs of regression around the barn.

"She stayed nice and big and round and her color was great," Hushion said.

Hushion said wheeling her back in the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie at Laurel Park "was tempting." But Hushion kept to the game plan and targeted the Ladies, which at 1 1/8 miles will be the furthest Tidal Dance has ever run.

"We've always thought the longer the better with her," Hushion said. "She was a little rank last time around the turn. She was sharp. I'm afraid she'll be a little bit sharp Saturday, but I'm hoping the two three-quarter works will help her settle a little bit."

Tidal Dance could find herself on the lead under Channing Hill from post 4.

The horse to fear is Distinctively, the regally bred filly from trainer Shug McGaughey's stable who makes her first start around two turns. Distinctively comes off a second-place finish in a one-turn mile, first-level allowance at Gulfstream in which she was fanned wide into the stretch. She may need someone like Weathered to pressure Tidal Dance up front.

Quiet Mover and Love's Blush complete the field.