02/02/2008 1:00AM

Vanderkaay ships north to take Dancing Count

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About an hour before his colt Vanderkaay was scheduled to run in the Dancing Count Stakes at Laurel Park, trainer Ferris Allen watched on television as Surrealdeal finished second as a 56-1 longshot in the Grade 2 Swale Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

Considering that Surrealdeal nosed out Vanderkaay for third in the Pasco at Tampa Bay Downs two weeks earlier, Allen hoped the results of the Swale was a good omen.

It turned out to be just that as Vanderkaay ($18) rallied from eighth to post a 2 3/4-length victory over Ghostly Thunder in the $50,600 Dancing Count for 3-year-olds.

"We have been treating this horse like a come-from-behind sprinter and we were more than happy there was speed in this race," Allen said.

He intends to point Vanderkaay to the Miracle Wood Stakes locally on March 1.

Vanderkaay, a son of Malibu Moon owned by Bowman Thoroughbreds, was making his first start in Maryland after two maiden races to begin his career at Delaware Park and three races in Florida, including a pair of wins at Calder. Ridden for the first time by Rosie Napravnik, he covered six furlongs over a "good" track in 1:10.70.

Ghostly Thunder, who had won four in a row at Charles Town, finished three-quarters of a length in front of third-place Vigors Storm. The previously unbeaten Hefty Returns finished last of nine as the 5-2 favorite.