12/29/2001 12:00AM

Saturday Stakes Roundup


San Pedro wins Louisiana 'Cap

NEW ORLEANS - The Illinois breeding program is going crazy in New Orleans. A week after Illinois-breds ran one-two in the Woodchopper Handicap at Fair Grounds, the Illinois-bred San Pedro, outfitted with a new set of blinkers, won the $75,000 Louisiana Handicap on Saturday.

San Pedro stalked the pace while saving ground and rallied in the stretch under a heavy drive by jockey Ray Sibille to beat 34-1 shot Remington Rock by 1 3/4 lengths. Remington Rock finished more than two lengths clear of Valhol, the favorite, who was up for third by a head. San Pedro, a 9-1 shot, paid $21.20 to win and ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.77. With the biggest win of his career, the 3-year-old San Pedro ran his record to five wins in 10 starts.

Though San Pedro ran in an allowance race here only 12 days ago, finishing second by a half-length, trainer Joseph "Spanky" Broussard said he had targeted the Louisiana Handicap all along. The colt's last performance prompted Broussard, on Sibille's advice, to add blinkers to San Pedro's racing equipment. "I think the blinkers really helped him," Broussard said.

"The whole time in his last race he was just galloping along," Sibille said. "He was still passing horses, but I said, 'If we can get this horse running . . .' "

And, San Pedro ran. Breaking alertly, he stalked a moderate early pace set by Freon Flier, who was joined on the backstretch by Frazee's Folly. Sibille guided San Pedro off the rail turning for home and the colt picked up the pace, getting to the leaders at the furlong marker and drawing clear in deep stretch.

Broussard said San Pedro is likely to pass the next stakes race for older horses here and race again Feb. 10 in the Whirlaway Handicap. San Pedro's main spring goal is the New Orleans Handicap.

- Marcus Hersh

Turfway: Dancing Missile wins first stakes

Dancing Missile immediately went to the lead from his outside post, and then gamely held off a sustained inside run from Personal First for the first stakes victory of his career in Saturday's $50,000 Holiday Cheer Stakes at Turfway Park in Florence, Ky.

Dancing Missile, a 3-year-old Canaveral colt owned by Joe Haller, prevailed by a half-length in the six-furlong Holiday Cheer. Ridden by Justin Vitek, he returned $10.80 as fourth choice in a field of eight.

Personal First, the 9-2 fifth choice under Jesus Castanon, finished 2 3/4 lengths ahead of Sold to Wallstreet, while Lucky Baldwin, the 3-1 favorite, finished fourth. Willowbrook Lane was unable to overcome an awkward start and finished fifth.

Dancing Missile long has been highly regarded by trainer Dale Romans but the colt was hampered by an injured hind pastern last winter. "We just gave him time, and he came back okay in the spring," Romans said Saturday evening from south Florida, where his main string of horses are based. "He came back even better this fall after I gave him some more time."

Romans said Dancing Missile soon would join his string at Gulfstream. The Jan. 19 Mr. Prospector is an unlikely next start, "but we'll have a lot of options with him," said Romans. Personal First also is headed to Gulfstream for trainer David Paulus.

Dancing Missile, now a four-time winner in 13 starts, finished in 1:12.46 over a fast track.

- Marty McGee