05/16/2002 11:00PM

Summer Colony wins for hard-luck Hennig


BALTIMORE - After one of his fillies was disqualified from first in a Grade 1 stakes two weeks ago, and another was beaten by a nose in a Grade 2 race last Saturday, trainer Mark Hennig was beginning to think he was snakebit.

So when his filly Summer Colony and 6-5 favorite Dancethruthedawn came down to the wire following a stirring stretch drive in Friday's $150,000 Pimlico Breeders' Cup Distaff Handicap, Hennig allowed himself to think the worst.

"The way things had gone just in the last couple of weeks, I thought we were going to lose another one by a bob," Hennig said.

Hennig's fears were quickly alleviated when the numbers were posted, showing that Summer Colony had won the bob and the Grade 3 Distaff by a nose over Dancethruthedawn. It was 5 1/4 lengths back to Happily Unbridled in third.

The win was the sixth in the last seven starts for Summer Colony, a 4-year-old daughter of Summer Squall. In February, she won the Grade 2 La Canada in Santa Anita before losing the Grade 2 Rampart at Gulfstream.

Despite five scratches that moved Summer Colony from post 12 to post 7, Summer Colony was still caught very wide entering the first turn. Jockey John Velazquez quickly moved Summer Colony into second and she stalked Netherland through fractions of 23.66 seconds, 46.93, and 1:11.32.

Summer Colony put away Netherland in upper stretch, but Robby Albarado had Dancethruthedawn charging at Summer Colony in the stretch. The two ran together through the final furlong, alternating on the lead in deep stretch.

Said Velazquez: "I managed to be close enough on the backside so on the second turn I wouldn't be so far out, but still I lost four lengths going into the first turn and the horse inside of me bumped me a little bit."

Summer Colony covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.90 and returned $5.40 to win.

Hennig said Summer Colony will likely make her next start in the $300,000 Molly Pitcher Handicap at Monmouth Park on June 29.

The horses that scratched were Fleet Renee, Atelier, Mandy's Gold, Prized Stamp, and Steiners Baby Girl.

Merry Princess gets first stakes

Merry Princess used a powerful stretch surge to win $75,000 The Very One Stakes at five furlongs on turf Friday. It was her first stakes win.

Merry Princess ran the five furlongs in 56.67 over firm turf, winning by 1 1/4 lengths. She paid $9.20 to win as the second choice. Maypole Dance, who set the pace, finished second, filling out a $73.40 exacta, while Scootin' Girl, a 42-1 longshot who had never started in a stakes, finished third and keyed a $2,716 trifecta.

Owned by a partnership that includes trainer Kathleen Demasi and her husband, Merry Princess shot to the front in deep stretch when Maypole Dance drifted off the rail. Ramon Dominguez was up.

"She just loves the course here," Demasi said. "It was exactly how I thought it might set up, but I was just praying for her to get through."

Anofferyoucantrefuse all the way

Anofferyoucantrefuse, away from the races since last August, led every step of the way to win the $106,800, Grade 1 Joe Aitcheson Steeplechase by two lengths over 4-5 favorite Mcdynamo. It was 5 3/4 lengths back to Ethical Actions, who was third.

With Richard Horgan up, Anofferyoucantrefuse covered the 2 1/8 miles in 3:41.74 over a firm turf course. Mcdnyamo, who won the Grade 1 Hard Scuffle at Churchill Downs, raced second all the way around under Craig Thornton.

When racing over the flats, Anofferyoucantrefuse won only a maiden claiming race in nine starts for trainer Pat Kelly. The Red Ransom gelding was moved to trainer Tom Voss last summer and he went 2 for 3 in steeplechase races at Saratoga. He won a handicap by 20 3/4 lengths on Aug. 29, but had not raced since.

"This horse is pretty one-dimensional: he has to be in front," Voss said. "The idea was to go immediately to the front and get a good lead. After that, he jumps so well that kept him in front."

- additional reporting by Matt Hegarty