11/17/2006 12:00AM

Speedy challenger for Dance Fee


Dance Fee boasts the best last-race Beyer Speed Figure among the seven fillies and mares in the closing-day feature at Delaware Park. But those looking to find a reason to play against Dance Fee, the probable favorite, in Sunday's $54,000 Justakiss Stakes at 1 1/16 miles have plenty of evidence to support their opinion.

The 5-year-old Dance Fee, trained by Mike Gorham, most recently romped by seven lengths in a high-priced optional claimer going a mile and 70 yards. The 97 Beyer Figure she earned represented a career high, however, and she may be susceptible to a bounce returning three weeks later. Her win also may have been aided by a track that favored early speed. She was one of five winners on the Oct. 30 card to be in front at the first call.

In addition, that was Dance Fee's first win after eight consecutive losses this season, including twice as the favorite.

Unlike in her last start, Dance Fee is unlikely to get an uncontested early lead, thanks to the presence of Finger Lakes shipper Hoosick Falls. The 4-year-old Hoosick Falls has won 3 of 5 starts this year, all against allowance competition, while leading wire to wire.

Royal Pleasure and Lexi Star are viable alternatives to Dance Fee.

The 3-year-old Royal Pleasure raced against the bias on Oct. 31, a day in which nine of the 10 winners were either first or second at the first call. Royal Pleasure did well to finish second that day in an overnight stakes restricted to 3-year-old fillies. She won her previous two starts in fields that included older females.

Lexi Star, trained by Chris Grove, has been idle since late September, but she shows two recent one-mile works at the Bowie Training Center in Maryland. Last time out, the 4-year-old Lexi Star finished 1 3/4 lengths ahead of Dance Fee as the beaten favorite in the nine-furlong Long Look at the Meadowlands.

Notably, Lexi Star is 2 for 2 at Delaware, including a win in her first start off a long layoff this past July.