03/02/2012 3:39PM

Santa Anita: Dancing in Silks attempts comeback in Joe Hernandez

Benoit & Associates
Dancing in Silks, now 7, will race for the first time since last July in Sunday's Joe Hernandez Handicap.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Nerves will be high when Dancing in Silks, winless in eight starts since the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Sprint, starts for the first time since July in Sunday’s $70,000 Joe Hernandez Handicap at Santa Anita.

“I’ve got a knot in my stomach because a lot of people are watching,” said trainer Anthony Saavedra.

Owned by Ken Kinakin, Dancing in Silks, 7, has been with Saavedra’s stable since last fall, after the gelding returned to the racetrack.

Last year, Kinakin and then-trainer Kathy Walsh announced that Dancing in Silks was retired after a series of disappointing performances.

The Hernandez Handicap is run over about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course, and will be Dancing in Silks’s first start since a seventh in the Robert Kerlan Memorial Handicap for turf sprinters at Hollywood Park last July.

“He runs well fresh and he’s training up a storm,” Saavedra said. “I don’t know what to expect.

“I like that there is speed in there. It’s his style to stalk and pounce. It’d be nice to find an easier spot. There are not many softer spots for horses like him.”

Dancing in Silks was trained by Carla Gaines when he won the BC Sprint in a 25-1 upset in November 2009. Since then, he has finished in the top three twice in eight starts, most recently a third in the Sensational Star Handicap for California-breds in February 2011.

Expectations are modest for Sunday’s race, which is led by the multiple stakes winner Mr Gruff. Saavedra says he has been encouraged by Dancing in Silks’s turf workouts in the last month.

“We’re going on back class,” Saavedra said. “He’s a lot of horse on the racetrack.”