John Petrini’s Love That Dance will accept a hefty challenge
here Sunday when she totes highweight of 125 pounds in the $65,000 Spruce Fir
Handicap for New Jersey-bred fillies and mares at one mile and 70 yards.
“Has any Jersey-bred won with 125 pounds in recent years?”
trainer Ben Perkins Jr. asked of no one in particular while looking over the
Spruce Fir past performances.
“That’s a lot for a filly to carry going long,” Perkins
said, “but what are you going to do. She earned it.”
Love That Dance, a homebred 5-year-old daughter of Not For
Love – Broad Exchange, by Broad Brush, has gained her reputation over the past
three seasons in sprint races, where her nine wins in 23 starts have included seven
stakes in Delaware, Maryland and New Jersey.
But in three lifetime starts at two turns, she has run
second twice – the last two runnings of the Spruce Fir. She finished less than
a length behind Way With Words under 120 pounds in 2009, and last year was
beaten nearly three lengths by Moneigh Lisa while toting 118.
“She’s been training really well,” Perkins said, “and she’s
sharp right now. The weight is a challenge, but she’ll deal with it.”
This will be the heaviest package the mare has ever carried.
She won the six-furlong Sweet n Sassy Stakes at Delaware last year carrying
124, and last out took the Open Mind Handicap here on June 18 under 123 pounds.
Love That Dance opened her 2011 campaign with a dull effort
in the Red Cross Stakes here May 29, when she was wide most of the way and ran
“After having the winter off, it usually takes her one race
to get going,” Perkins said.
The Open Mind was her second start of the year, and the mare
was back in her old form, battling for
the lead from the start, and then drawing off at the end of six furlongs in
She’ll have seven rivals in the Spruce Fir and breaks from
Post 2 with Pablo Fragoso back aboard.
“There’s some speed in there,” Perkins said, “and I don’t
think she’ll be on the lead. But if she breaks sharp, she’ll be close right
from the start.”