06/03/2002 12:00AM

Negev Dancer gives small barn a big chance

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SAN MATEO, Calif. - Holly Evans trains three horses and will run Negev Dancer, the best in her small stable, in Wednesday's Bay Meadows feature, a one-mile turf race for $25,000 claimers.

"I'm hoping this filly gets better," Evans said. "She acts like she's going to be."

California trainers face a tough time with a rise in workers compensation insurance costs, and it's particularly difficult for smaller barns.

"I don't do my own galloping, but I do my own stalls," said Evans, who has trained horses for 14 years and also trains dogs, specifically collies, for agility and herding shows.

"You know your horses better, how they're feeling. You can see how much they ate, if they were restless the night before. The first step out of the stall can tell you a lot about a horse. There are a lot of little things that tell you about them.

"The days of developing a relationship [with a horse] are a thing of the past, but I like horses; that's why I'm in it."

Negev Dancer has won only one of 13 starts, but also has two seconds and four thirds. A 4-year-old filly, she has earned $36,940 in two years of racing.

She returned to competition on April 19, after an eight-month layoff, and finished third in a main-track sprint. Her last two starts have come on the turf, where she is 0-for-4 with a second and third.

"I think she likes the turf better," Evans said.

With the northern California fair season coming up, Negev Dancer's chances to run on the turf this summer will be limited.

"It would be wonderful if she were good enough to take to Del Mar," Evans said.

Evans is 0 for 7 with three thirds at the meet and 0 for 17 for the year.

"It's tough for a small stable [to win]," she said. "It's hard to get a good rider, and you don't want to lose your horse."

Evans always holds her breath when she enters Negev Dancer for a claiming tag, but she must find a spot where the filly has a chance.

Negev Dancer figures to be competitive in the field of six that will compete in Wednesday's feature.

"She's a nice filly and she likes the turf," Evans said. "This is a tough spot, but the starter allowance races are tough, too. I'm just hoping this is the right spot."

All American Handicap

Boss Ego and Out of Mind, who were separated by a head in the San Carlos Handicap on April 18, will meet again Saturday in the final graded stakes of the Bay Meadows meeting, the $150,000, Grade 3 All American Handicap at 1 1/16 miles.

The connections of Moonlight Meeting, third in the San Carlos, Palmeiro, and Ironman Dehere have also indicated they will run.

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