05/27/2008 11:00PM

My Imperial Dancer: Older, wiser


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - My Imperial Dancer, a talented but lightly raced 6-year-old, could be the horse to beat here in Friday's optional $80,000 claiming feature.

Owned by J.M. Stritzl Stable and trained by Norm McKnight, My Imperial Dancer will be making his seasonal bow in the one-mile turf race that attracted a field of six. Run under third-level allowance conditions, it will go as the seventh of nine races on a card that includes six maiden events.

My Imperial Dancer has won 3 of 17 career starts and became a stakes winner here in last year's Halton, a one-mile turf race for yearling sales graduates.

After displaying headstrong tendencies earlier in his career, My Imperial Dancer was an effective stalking presence in both the Halton and a subsequent appearance in an open turf allowance going one mile.

"He was getting better toward the end of last year," said McKnight. "He just looked more mature. He was just acting better, learning to relax a little bit more."

And, according to McKnight, that attitude has carried over to My Imperial Dancer's training this season.

"He's training excellent, probably as good or better than I've ever seen him train," said McKnight. "Ideally, I would have liked to have had another work or two in him, but he seems fit enough. It appears that he's ready."

Eurico Rosa Da Silva will ride My Imperial Dancer for the first time Friday.

Ice Bear, the other stakes winner in Friday's feature, also will be making his first start of the season.

A 4-year-old gelding trained by Mac Benson, Ice Bear won the Charlie Barley at one mile on turf here last June and has been working very well for his return.

Corey Fraser picks up the mount on Ice Bear.

As Expected, a 9-year-old gelding who has won 9 races and $675,694 in his 65-start career, will be the one to catch as he makes his second appearance this season.

Trained by Radlie Loney, As Expected finished third in his season debut, and the winner, Disfunction, came back to capture the Vigil Stakes.

Regular rider Richard Dos Ramos retains the mount on As Expected.

Believeinmenow was scheduled to arrive Thursday from Saratoga and will be making his local debut for trainer Jim Bond, who also plans to send Pewter and Solitaire for Sunday's Plate Trial.

A 4-year-old New York-bred colt, Believeinmenow is coming off a second-place finish in an optional claimer at one mile on turf at Aqueduct.

Patrick Husbands has the mount on Believeinmenow.

Rounding out the field will be Raw Power and Badge of Truth.