07/28/2011 12:49PM

Parx Racing: Ann's Smart Dancer takes on older in Power by Far

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Alyssa Spakowski/Equi-Photo
The 3-year-old Ann’s Smart Dancer, winner of the Caught in the Rain Stakes at Parx Racing, brings a 3-for-4 mark into Saturday’s $75,000 Power by Far Stakes.

Ann’s Smart Dancer has won 3 of 4 starts while racing almost exclusively against fellow 3-year-old fillies. Project Rose boasts a 6-for-9 record running on synthetic surfaces, but has never raced on dirt.

Considering that Saturday’s $75,000 Power by Far for Pennsylvania-breds will be contested at six furlongs on Parx Racing’s main track and five of the six fillies and mares are 4-years-old and up, both Ann’s Smart Dancer and Project Rose have something to prove, despite their otherwise impressive credentials.

Ann’s Smart Dancer did finish three-quarters of a length in front of the 4-year-old filly Star Retreat in a first-level allowance win in late April, but the other four horses she beat that day and all of her opponents in her other three races were 3-year-olds. Despite the age difference, Ann’s Smart Dancer must carry the same 116 pounds as her five older opponents in the Power by Far. She cuts back slightly in distance after winning the seven-furlong Caught in the Rain by 2 3/4 lengths on July 2.

Bred by the Harris family, which includes former long-time New York Daily News handicapper Russ Harris and his son, Craig Donnelly, Ann’s Smart Dancer is named in honor of Donnelly’s late wife, who succumbed to breast cancer several year ago.

“Back at the barn, she’s so laid back you almost feel like she’s a pet,” said Donnelly, who spent nearly 40 years as a public handicapper for the Philadelphia Inquirer. “But when it’s time to head to the paddock for race time, the change in her demeanor is obvious and dramatic. She knows it’s time to compete and she seems to love the competition. She might not be the fastest filly in the world, but she fights so hard every time.”

Ann’s Smart Dancer’s lone defeat came when she was second, 12 lengths behind Quantum Miss in her track-record performance at Penn National in the Wonders Delight.

“I think she still thinks she’s unbeaten,” Donnelly said. “That other filly was so far in front of her at Penn National, I’m not sure she could see her.”

The 5-year-old mare Project Rose was claimed for $40,000 out of a winning performance at Presque Isle Downs in early June. In her first two starts for new trainer Dale Capuano, she finished a close fourth in the $100,000 Satin and Lace and then wired five opponents in a second-level optional $62,500 claimer, both on the Tapeta at Presque Isle.

On a positive note, Capuano shows a 5-for-12 record (42 percent) with horses switching from synthetic surfaces to dirt.

Diva’s Gold, an uncoupled stablemate of Ann’s Smart Dancer, appears to be the most likely candidate to foil the two logical favorites. She returns to sprinting after three consecutive races around two turns. The last time she sprinted, Diva’s Gold was a close second in the seven-furlong Foxy J G on April 9. Trained by Butch Reid, the 5-year-old Diva’s Gold has been no worse than second in 7 of 9 starts at her home track, Parx.