09/30/2002 11:00PM

Two favorites look beatable

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ELMONT, N.Y. - A pair of horses who could go off favorites in their respective allowance races Thursday could be worth playing against on a decent card at Belmont Park.

Tap Dance, a Grade 2 winner as a 3-year-old, may go favored in a five-horse field entered in the third, a money allowance race going nine furlongs on the main track.

Tap Dance, trained by Mark Hennig, won last year's Bonnie Miss Stakes at Gulfstream. But she has disappointed in spots like this before, finishing fourth at 4-5 in a third-level allowance race last October, third at even-money in a mile allowance race here in May, and second at 6-5 in allowance company at Monmouth Park on July 11.

In her last start, Tap Dance chased the Grade 1 winner Victory Ride around the Monmouth Park oval, coming up 2 1/2 lengths short in the Omnibus Stakes. Trainer Mark Hennig believes the stretch out to nine furlongs should be a plus for Tap Dance.

The inside three horses - Delray Dew, Regal Countess, and Tax Affair all have speed. Delray Dew could not carry her speed 1 1/16 miles here on Sept. 12, when she was run down by Critical Eye.

Tippity Witch could be the play. Though all five of her victories have come on turf, Tippity Witch has run two creditable races on dirt.

In the 2001 Noble Damsel Stakes here, Tippity Witch finished third, beaten one length by Tugger and a head by Grade 1 winner Shine Again. In May, Tippity Witch was beaten by Critical Eye in an off-the-turf allowance race at a mile. She gets a positive rider switch from Norberto Arroyo Jr. to Jorge Chavez, and worked a half-mile in 49.10 seconds Tuesday for this.

Later on the card, Labamta Babe makes his turf debut in a second-level allowance race going a mile on the Widener Turf Course. Labamta Babe got little out of his return race when he finished last in the Grade 1 King's Bishop in the slop. It was his first start since he defeated Siphonic in the Grade 2 Santa Catalina Stakes in January.

Artax Too was well beaten in the Belmont Stakes, but he sandwiched that between a win and a decent third in two turf allowance races. Last out, he fought on between horses and ran third to the late-running Package Store. He figures to be tighter for his second start off a layoff. Dale Beckner rides from the rail.

Dicken's Storm is only 2 for 23, but he has run some of his better races at Belmont. He has two seconds and a third in his last three outings here, with his combined margin of defeat being two lengths.

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