04/08/2002 11:00PM

Snow Dance's break is over

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - After Snow Dance won the Suwannee River Handicap at Gulfstream Park on March 3, trainer John T. Ward Jr. said he planned to give the filly a little break.

After all, Snow Dance has developed into one of the top female turf runners in North America, and Ward wants her fresh when such races as the Beverly D. and Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf roll around.

So when Snow Dance showed up in the entries for the $100,000 Jenny Wiley Stakes, which will be run for the 14th time on Thursday at Keeneland, Ward was reminded of his plan to give her "a little break."

"I did," Ward said, laughing, knowing that the Jenny Wiley comes less than six weeks after the Suwannee River.

"Actually, I'm doing what I need to do with her," he said, "and that's space her races out every five or six weeks. I don't know exactly what's next, but this race Thursday should be the right kind of spot for her, timing and otherwise."

Snow Dance, a gray 4-year-old by Forest Wildcat, has won six of eight starts on turf for her owner, John C. Oxley. Her lone start on the Keeneland turf resulted in a decent third-place finish in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup last fall. Ward said that Snow Dance probably prefers a "flat course" like Gulfstream's - as opposed to a more undulating course like Keeneland's - yet he believes she will run well. "Over the course of the last few weeks, she's put on some weight and has really come on," he said.

The Grade 3 Jenny Wiley, at 1 1/16 miles on turf, drew 10 horses. Probably the most accomplished contender is Megans Bluff, an earner of nearly $670,000 for trainer John Hennig. Step With Style and Tates Creek also rate highly.

One outsider is Quick Tip, who will be making her first start in nearly five months.

"We tried to get her in a couple of races down at Fair Grounds, but couldn't," said Quick Tip's trainer, Neil Howard. "This is a tall order, but she's doing good, and we're looking to get started with her."

The Jenny Wiley, named for a famous Virginia pioneer who eventually moved to Kentucky, was first run in 1989. The last four winners are Maxzene (1998), Pleasant Temper (1999), Astra (2000), and Penny's Gold (2001).

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