05/12/2004 12:00AM

North Light prevails in Dante


North Light was a brave winner of the Group 2 Dante Stakes at York on Wednesday, holding Rule of Law off by a half-length in his seasonal debut off a 7 1/2-month layoff.

Ridden by Kieren Fallon, North Light overtook the Godolphin-owned Rule of Law to lead halfway through the 1 1/4-mile, 85-yard contest. The 6-1 North Light, a Michael Stoute trainee, was timed in 2:15.68 on good to soft ground. He will now head to the Epsom Derby on June 6.

North Light was the third European group race winner in two days to be sired by the late Danehill, with Punctilious having won the Group 3 Musidora Stakes and Steel Princess the Group 3 Prix Cleopatre on Tuesday.

Earlier, Godolphin's South African-bred mare Crimson Palace landed the Middleton Stakes, a new Group 3 race for older females at the Dante's distance. In defeating Beneventa by three-quarters of a length, Crimson Palace, the 3-2 favorite, was clocked in a time .01 seconds faster than North Light. Godolphin's racing manager, Simon Crisford, said that Crimson Palace's main target is the Beverly D. at Arlington on Aug. 14.