12/29/2001 12:00AM

Turfway: Dancing Missile wins first stakes

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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.