04/21/2012 2:43PM

Parx: Phil Dancer gets class relief in Philmont Stakes


Although best known as longtime public handicappers in Philadelphia and New York, Craig Donnelly and his father Russ Harris have more recently made names for themselves as the breeders of the filly Ann’s Smart Dancer, a three-time stakes winner in 2011. Their reputation as successful breeders will grow if their filly’s little brother Phil Dancer collects his first stakes victory in Tuesday’s $75,000 Philmont, a seven-furlong race for 3-year-olds at Parx Racing.

Phil Dancer and the New York-based King and Crusader are both facing softer competition after chasing the speedy Trinniberg in the Grade 3 Bay Shore 2 1/2 weeks ago.

Phil Dancer, a son of Dance With Ravens out of the Ide mare Bennington, will be racing without blinkers for the first time and returning to his home track, where he is 2 for 2. Trained by Butch Reid, Phil Dancer came from off the pace to defeat Pennsylvania-bred maidens in December in his second start and followed up by defeating open company in a first-level allowance on New Year’s Day.

Making his stakes debut three months later in the Bay Shore, Phil Dancer broke slowly and passed just two horses while beaten 15 1/2 lengths by Trinniberg and nearly five lengths by the horse directly in front of him, King and Crusader.

Trained by Richard Dutrow Jr., King and Crusader won consecutive races in a span of three days in January, including the six-furlong Jimmy Winkfield. He subsequently was far back when moved up to Grade 3 company in the Gotham and Bay Shore, although in the latter race he was competitive for the first six furlongs of the seven-furlong race.

Among the other five horses in the field, the most intriguing is Jake N Elwood, who comes off a nine-length romp over maidens locally in which he earned an 80 Beyer Speed Figure, the best last-race number among the Philmont entrants.

The field also includes Cop a Tude, a Maryland-based Triple Crown nominee who won the first two races of his career before finishing fifth of seven when stretched out to a mile in Private Terms at Laurel. The runner-up that day, Hakama, returned to finish third in the Illinois Derby.