05/15/2002 12:00AM

Moon Ballad wins one for Godolphin


Moon Ballad gave Godolphin a second strong candidate for the Epsom Derby when the Singspiel colt led virtually throughout to take the Group 2 Dante Stakes at York on Wednesday.

In a performance that recalled the famous victory of Roberto over Brigadier Gerard on the same 1 1/4-mile and 85-yard York course in the 1972 Benson & Hedges Gold Cup when Braulio Baeza put John Galbreath's colt on the lead and kept extending the same whenever challenged, Jamie Spencer was always finding more with Moon Ballad, who ultimately prevailed by 1 1/4 lengths over Bollin Eric. The final time was 2:07.06 on good to firm ground. Sir George Turner, the 15-8 favorite, showed nothing in finishing seventh of nine.

Spencer was filling in for Frankie Dettori, who had incurred a two-day suspension from the French stewards for careless riding aboard Firebreak in the Poule d'Essai des Poulains on Sunday.

Sent off at 13-2, Moon Ballad had finished fourth behind Essence Of Dubai in the UAE Derby but is clearly a better horse on turf. He will join Godolphin's Naheef, 14th in the 2000 Guineas, in the Epsom Derby on June 8.