04/21/2004 11:00PM

Valentine Dancer is fresh


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Back from a two-month vacation, Valentine Dancer can pick up where she left off in the California-bred division in Saturday's $150,000 Fran's Valentine Stakes at Hollywood Park.

In January, Valentine Dancer won the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf for Cal-breds and Florida-breds at Santa Anita, her third stakes win in less than three months.

She was given a break after finishing fourth in the Grade 2 La Canada Stakes in mid-February, and this will be her first race since.

While graded stakes may be in Valentine Dancer's future, owners Al and Sandee Kirkwood and trainer Craig Lewis see the Fran's Valentine as the ideal race for a comeback.

"She'd had a lot of hard races, and we thought it was in her best interest to give her a break," Lewis said. "It's a long year. I think under the right circumstances she could act with some pretty nice fillies."

Of course, the Fran's Valentine is worth a lot less than the Sunshine Millions, but it is still a tough race. Moscow Burning and Bartok's Blithe, second and third in the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf, return in the Fran's Valentine, which has drawn a field of seven.

There will be considerable support for Valentine Dancer and Moscow Burning, as well as the speedy Super High. The Fran's Valentine is the first race on the 10-race Gold Rush program, which begins at 1:20 p.m.

Super High is expected to lead. Trained by Carla Gaines for Harris Farms, Super High beat Moscow Burning by a nose in the one-mile Pro or Con Handicap for statebreds at Santa Anita on Feb. 17, one of the most exciting races of that meeting. In her last start, Super High was a game second to Bear Fan in the Irish O'Brien Stakes on the hillside turf course on March 17.

Super High has proven to be effective over 1 1/16 miles. In 2002, she won the filly division of the now-defunct California Sires Stakes over that distance on this turf course.

The presence of Super High on the front end concerns Lewis.

"Super High could shake loose," Lewis said. "Our filly does have good speed if we have to use it, but I'd prefer to stalk her if we can."

Moscow Burning needs a quick pace to be most effective. Bred by Harris Farms and owned by a partnership that claimed her for $25,000 last August, Moscow Burning won the California Cup Distance Handicap over 1 1/4 miles on turf last November.

She is winless in her last four starts, including a fifth in the Grade 2 Orchid Handicap over 1 1/2 miles on turf at Gulfstream Park on March 21. Meridiana won the Orchid and returned to win the Grade 3 Bewitch Stakes at Keeneland on Wednesday.

On Sunday, Moscow Burning worked five furlongs in 1:00.60, and trainer Jim Cassidy was elated.

"That was as good a work as I've seen all year," he said. "She had a horse in front of her and she blew the doors off him at the three-sixteenths pole."