Insistence by owner Howard Baker that Dancing make her U.S. debut in the Santa Ynez Stakes (gr. II) rather than a conditioned allowance race proved successful Monday when the 3-year-old filly took the seven-furlong test at Santa Anita.
Ridden by Gary Stevens and carrying 116 pounds, Dancing rallied from last place for a half-length victory in the Santa Ynez Stakes. Dancing returned $38, $13.40 and $8.00 while covering seven furlongs in 1:23.07 on a fast main track. Respectful, who took a short lead in mid-stretch and appeared headed for victory before being passed by Dancing, held second and paid $8.80 and $5. It was another half-length back to Lady George, who was worth $5.20 for show.
Ayanna, the 6-5 favorite who carried high weight of 121 pounds, finished eighth after jockey Mike Smith tried to rate the normally front-running filly. "I probably should have put her on the lead," Smith said. "But (Rich Musique) was going, I didn't want to get in a speed duel, so I tried to rate her. It didn't work."
A British-bred daughter of Spectrum, Dancing began her career in Ireland, where David Hanley trained her to win one of three starts as a 2-year-old last year.
"Congratulate (owner Howard Baker), I had nothing to do with it," said Jenine Sahadi, who won last year's Santa Ynez with Golden Ballet. "I asked (Baker) what he wanted to do, that we had this 'other-than' (allowance) in the book. He said, 'We're running on Monday.' Thank God (Baker) is a pain in the (rear end). (Baker) sent the horse to me from England. When I got her, I was working from scratch. My first work on her was three-eighths, because I really didn't know if she had breezed or if she was fit."
Baker paid the U.S. equivalent of $40,018 for Dancing when he bought her as a weanling at a 1999 Tattersalls sale. "I picked her on pedigree," Baker said. "Believe it or not, she has features similar to Serena's Song."