04/29/2004 12:00AM

'Vixen' will have to catch 'em


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Could Dancewithavixen, the heavy favorite in the $40,000 Sun Handicap Saturday at Hastings, be vulnerable? The Sun goes as the eighth race and is part of the pick six, which ths Saturday will have a guaranteed pool of $50,000.

Dancewithavixen has been just about unbeatable at Hastings and certainly deserves the 124 pounds she will be carrying Saturday. And she was very impressive winning the Strawberry Morn Stakes under 122 pounds opening day.

Dancewithavixen likes to run at something in her sprints. But in the Sun Handicap, at 6 1/2 furlongs, Dancewithavixen's competition might not be going very fast up front. Vulnerable? Maybe, but her owner and trainer Tom Longstaff is as confident as ever.

"She's better now than she was going into the Strawberry Morn, and she won carrying 126 pounds last year," he said. "I'm just worried about what she'll have to carry later. It's only May."

Since the beginning of the 2003 racing season, Dee's Love has been the only local horse who has actually finished in front of Dancewithavixen. She set very slow fractions when she beat Dancewithavixen in an Emerald Downs stakes last June and the same scenario could unfold in the Sun.

Dee's Love drew the rail, and it is expected that her rider, David Wilson, will place her on the lead.

It is possible that Dee's Love will face some pressure from the 2002 local horse of the year, Elana d'Amour, who will be making her first start of the season. Elana d'Amour won two sprint stakes at Hastings in 2003, including her initial outing in the Strawberry Morn.