05/28/2009 11:00PM

Love That Dance meets elders


OCEANPORT, N.J. - Love That Dance goes from open company to New Jersey-breds Sunday in the $60,000 Open Mind Handicap for fillies and mares at Monmouth Park.

A 3-year-old trained by Ben Perkins Jr., Love That Dance found herself running without success against fast open company in three races this season, including the Grade 3 Cicada Stakes at Aqueduct.

The return to the statebred ranks should help. Love That Dance was unbeaten in three races against New Jersey-breds last season, although she did lose one of those wins to a disqualification here last June.

There is, however, a downside. Love That Dance, the youngest horse in the race, faces older foes for the first time.

"You get a little class relief," Perkins said. "But you are in against older horses. There was just nowhere to run her in the winter. She was already a three-other-than, so we had few places to run, and she was ready to go."

That conditioning could be an advantage as three of the six runners in the six-furlong race are making their season debuts.

"That was one of our thoughts," Perkins said. "At least she's been running as opposed to coming off a layoff."

Joe Bravo will ride.

Trainer Kevin Sleeter sends out a pair making their first starts of year: Talkin About Love and Love for Not. They are uncoupled in the wagering.

Sleeter also is the owner and breeder of Talkin About Love, winner of the Grade 3 Monmouth Oaks in 2007.

She usually needs more ground than the six-furlong Open Mind offers. Talkin About Love used this race as her season debut last year, finishing third.

The blinkers come off as Stewart Elliott gets the mount.

Love for Not got off to a fast start at 2, winning 3 of 4. She was winless in three tries last year at 3.

Carlos Marquez Jr. will ride.

Heckuva Good Time is back to defend her Open Mind title, having posted a 1 3/4-length victory last season. Most recently, she dueled for the lead in the Red Cross Stakes on the opening weekend here before finishing fifth.