M ONE RIFLE TAKES AIM ON BREEDERS' CUP SPRINT CHAMP DANCING IN SILKS IN PALOS VERDES

ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 18) – Dancing in Silks, trainer Carla Gaines’ 5-year-old gelding whose dizzying run of four straight victories last year was capped by a 25-1 stunner in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Santa Anita on Nov. 7, returns to action Saturday in Santa Anita’s 58th running of the Grade II, $150,000 Palos Verdes Handicap with a new shooter primed to spoil the champion’s six-furlong return.

Immediately after the nose victory by Dancing in Silks in the Breeders’ Cup event, Gaines cited such respected opponents as Zensational and Gayego. “It looked like a tough situation for us,” she said. “The way the post positions set up, we were able to sit off the pace and make one run. The racing gods were smiling on us today.”

California-bred Dancing in Silks likely will be chasing M One Rifle among nine entrants in the Palos Verdes. M One Rifle, a 4-year-old California-bred gelding by One Man Army, gained his first graded stakes win on Santa Anita’s opening day, Dec. 26, by running off with the Grade I Malibu Stakes at seven furlongs.

Chased by Misremembered and San Fernando Stakes winner Papa Clem, M One Rifle turned the Malibu into a procession while leading every step of the way at 7-1 odds and crossing the wire 2 ½ lengths ahead of Misremembered in a sprightly 1:21.05.

“I’m so proud of the way he’s been improving,” Smith said following the Malibu. “He ran super.” “The horse has natural speed and Mike did a masterful job,” said trainer Bruce Headley, who along with Ed Bernstein and Bryan Greenspun, bred and now own M One Rifle.

The clash between M One Rifle, who has sped to an early lead in 7 of his 9 starts, and Dancing in Silks, who seems to do his best running from just off the pace, sets the story line for the Palos Verdes, a race that Headley won with two-time Breeders’ Cup Sprint champ Kona Gold in 2000.

Dancing in Silks, with Joel Rosario back aboard, drew the rail and will carry high weight of 123 pounds. M One Rifle, who will start from post No. 3 under Smith, will be getting three pounds while assigned 120.

Owned by Ken Kinakin, Dancing in Silks registered his first graded stakes victory in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. He was coming off wins in Oak Tree’s $100,000 California Cup Sprint Handicap and Del Mar’s $112,000 Pirate’s Bounty Stakes, both restricted to state-breds.

A son of Black Minnaloushe bred by Ronald E. Jex, Dancing in Silks comes into the Palos Verdes with earnings of $1,447,622 from a career record of 7-2-2 in 13 races. M One Rifle has never finished off the board in eight starts for a showing of 4-1-3 worth $378,572.

Zayat Stables’ Eaton’s Gift has shipped in from the East to take on the two well-proven runners over Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride surface. The 5-year-old son of Johannesburg held off 1-2 favored Benny the Bull to take the Grade II, $350,000 Smile Sprint Handicap by 1 ½ lengths at Calder Race Course last July. He won the Grade II Swale Stakes in 2008 at Gulfstream Park.

Eaton’s Gift, who has joined the Mike Mitchell barn in California, will be ridden by Tyler Baze and carry 117 pounds. The speedster has banked $471,715 from a record of 5-0-2 in 13 races. He is 1-for-4 over synthetic surfaces.

The complete field for the Palos Verdes Handicap with jockeys and weights in post position order: Dancing in Silks, Joel Rosario, 123; Ez Dreamer, Alex Solis, 116; M One Rifle, Mike Smith, 120; Paul’s Hope, Victor Espinoza, 115; Eaton’s Gift, Tyler Baze, 117; Quietly Mine, Garrett Gomez, 113; Supreme Summit, Rafael Bejarano, 114; Kinsale King, Martin Garcia, 116, and Ventana, Joseph Talamo, 113.

The Palos Verdes Handicap will be contested as the eighth race on a nine-race program with first post at 12:30 p.m.

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