05/31/2012 11:40AM

Woodbine: Dancing Raven targets Ballade Stakes repeat

Michael Burns
Dancing Raven will be seeking a repeat victory in the Ballade Stakes at Woodbine on Saturday.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Dancing Raven, winner of the restricted Ballade Stakes here last year, has ended on the fringes when facing graded stakes fillies and mares in her two starts this spring.

On Saturday, Dancing Raven will be back with her own kind in the $125,000 Ballade, a six-furlong stakes for Ontario-sired fillies and mares, and looms the one to beat for trainer Michael Doyle.

Dancing Raven, a homebred 5-year-old who races for Bill Graham, was beaten 5 1/4 lengths as the seventh-place finisher in a field of 10 when beginning her 2012 campaign in the Grade 3 Whimsical at six furlongs here April 22.

Returning four weeks later in the Grade 2 Hendrie at 6 1/2 furlongs, Dancing Raven ended 8 1/2 lengths behind the repeating Roxy Gap while running fourth in the field of six.

“She came out of her last race really good,” Doyle said. “She’s coming back a little bit quick, but she’s really tough.”

Eurico Rosa da Silva retains the mount on Dancing Raven, who comes into the Ballade with a record line of 4-5-3 and earnings of $388,698. She holds a class edge on her seven Ballade rivals.

Dance to the Moon, a 5-year-old homebred who also is trained by Doyle but races for Scott Abbott, looms as the chief threat to her stablemate.

After finishing sixth, a head ahead of Dancing Raven when also making her seasonal bow in the Whimsical, Dance to the Moon was entered in the Hendrie but was scratched.

“It will help her not having run that day,” Doyle said. “She’s in fantastic shape. She worked beautifully the other day.”

Dance to the Moon, a winner of 6 of her 15 starts with all of her successes coming in sprints at 6 1/2 or seven furlongs, will have regular rider Slade Callaghan in the irons.

Dancing Raven drew post 7, while Dance to the Moon will begin from post 3.

Rounding out the field will be Weekend Romance, Anywhere, Dreamy Moonlight, Tree Pose, Posh Sox, and Swingwiththering.

Weekend Romance, a 4-year-old who won the restricted Passing Mood Stakes over seven furlongs of turf here last July, tired to finish last of 12 when making her 2012 bow in a difficult second-level optional $62,500 claimer here April 13.

“She got quite agitated before the race and didn’t run her race,” trainer Catherine Day Phillips said. “We’ve schooled her lots and lots in the gate and the paddock. Hopefully, her demeanor will be better and she’ll be able to run a better race.”