02/07/2008 1:00AM

Our Dancing Babe gets back on best surface


Our Dancing Babe took two recent trips from Kentucky to the Fair Grounds, with the first yielding encouraging results but the second only disappointment.

The hit-and-miss convinced trainer Speedy Smithwick to keep Our Dancing Babe at home for her next race, which comes Saturday in the $50,000 Likely Exchange Stakes at Turfway Park.

"She's never run a bad race over the Polytrack," said Smithwick, who trains Our Dancing Babe for his main client, David Ross of McLean, Va. "She likes the track and she trains great up here. We thought it best that she stayed home for this one."

Our Dancing Babe, with Orlando Mojica to ride, looks like a major contender among a full field of 12 fillies and mares in the one-mile Likely Exchange. A confirmed stretch-runner with 3 wins and 2 fourth-place finishes from 5 starts over Polytrack, Our Dancing Babe comes off back-to-back turf races in New Orleans, where she was second in the Nov. 24 Pago Hop, then 12th of 14 in the Dec. 29 Furl Sail.

"I thought she probably should've won the Pago Hop," said Smithwick, a longtime Marylander who has about 20 horses split between Turfway and the Trackside training center in Louisville. "The next race, she got bogged down on the rail and never really fired. I really don't think she likes being inside horses much."

By breaking from post 9, Our Dancing Babe should have the opportunity to launch her normally reliable rally from outside of rivals. If she can't catch up, a logical alternative would be Rayona (post 1), a four-length winner of an allowance in December at Turfway, or Fun Logic (post 3), a California shipper trained by Bill Currin.

Smithwick, who coming into Thursday's action at Turfway had won with 7 of 17 starters at the winter-spring meet, also has entered La Perouse (post 12), a mare who will not be coupled with Our Dancing Babe for wagering purposes.

The Likely Exchange goes as the 11th of 12 races on a card that starts at 1:10 p.m. Eastern.

The Likely Exchange, named for a standout mare trained by Tommy Stevens Sr. in the late 1970s, dates to 1989. The 2007 winner was Ella Belle, trained by Buff Bradley.