10/16/2002 11:00PM

Seattle Tac could benefit if rated


Little more than a month ago, Seattle Tac faded to third in a one-mile race at Delaware Park, finishing nine lengths behind winner Galloping Dancer and three lengths behind runner-up Heirloom Diamond.

Seattle Tac has to face both Galloping Dancer and Heirloom Diamond in another one-mile race Saturday, the $100,000 Blue Hen Stakes for 2-year-old fillies. So who says there's any good reason to believe Seattle Tac can turn the tables?

Trainer Graham Motion does. If Seattle Tac relaxes early and avoids getting involved in another speed duel, Motion said he thinks she's capable of a big effort in the Blue Hen.

"In her last race, they went a ridiculous pace," Motion said. "I was kind of disappointed. She just did not settle, and they went off way too fast. For 2-year-old fillies going long for the first time, it was pretty suicidal."

Motion may have a valid complaint. The contested fractions Seattle Tac set in the Sept. 14 one-mile allowance race won by stalker Galloping Dancer were 46.81 seconds for the first half-mile and 1:13.90 for the first six furlongs. The first four furlongs were faster than older male $50,000 claimers ran going one mile one race earlier on the program.

In the past month, Motion said he has concentrated on teaching Seattle Tac, from one of the last crops sired by Seattle Slew, to rate.

"I have really been working on trying to get her to relax, so I would be surprised if she doesn't handle stretching out," Motion said. "She looks to me like a filly that wants to go long. She is certainly bred to handle the distance, so I thought it was just a question of her getting hooked up in a speed duel last time. I would be surprised if she doesn't run well as long as she can relax."

Trainer Mary Hartman has two fillies who might offer value to bettors looking to beat Galloping Dancer. Hartman has entered Maria's Mojo and Runaway Chanel, but they will run uncoupled because of different ownership.

Maria's Mojo has a race over the track and has proven she can handle two turns, but she's moving up to stakes company after winning a maiden race by six lengths at Delaware last month. Runaway Chanel has run against graded stakes competition, finishing third in the Grade 3 Sorority at Monmouth Park and fourth in the Grade 1 Matron at Belmont. But she has yet to try two turns and hasn't had a race over the track.

Runaway Chanel, who began her career running for a $50,000 claiming tag, prepped for the Blue Hen by running third in an allowance sprint at The Meadowlands two weeks ago.

"She isn't a great work horse, so we decided to run her short and let her gallop out strongly, which she did," Hartman said. "So she should be ready to go."

Dominguez nearing return

Ramon Dominguez has circled Oct. 26 on his calendar. That's the date he intends to ride for the first time since he fractured his wrist in a spill on July 24.

"The doctor has given me the approval to ride," Dominguez said. "I have gotten the cast taken off. I started physical therapy, and I've been getting on some horses in the morning. I feel very good, but my arm is still stiff because it had been in one position for so long."

Despite missing nearly three months while recuperating, Dominguez still ranks fifth in the meet's jockey standings with 104 wins from 397 mounts.