Brian O'Connor

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Pine Dance to bid for Belmont prize

Fri 18th May 2001, 01:25

Dermot Weld revealed yesterday his world traveller Pine Dance will have his next start in one of America`s top races, the Grade One Metropolitan Handicap at New York`s Belmont track, on Monday week.

The $750,000 dirt prize will conclude an important few days for the Curragh trainer, who is set to run the Athasi winner, Cool Clarity in the Entemann`s Irish 1,000 Guineas, Maumee in the 2,000 and Muakaad in the Tattersalls Gold Cup over May 26th-27th.

'An American jockey will probably ride Pine Dance as Pat Smullen is so busy over here,' Weld said yesterday of his colt, who won twice in the US last year and ran second at Acqueduct earlier this month.

Another future big-race target for the Weld-Smullen team could be the Gallinule Stakes with Jammaal, who will bypass this Sunday`s Prix d`Ispahan at Longchamp.

On the home front, Smullen has continued the form that saw him pick up his first jockeys` championship last season and the rider can extend his lead in the table over Mick Kinane with a double at Cork tonight.

Weld saddles Chill Seeking for the Listed race, which is named after his double 1981 Oaks scorer, Blue Wind. Adonesque, one of the three John Oxx fillies in the race, holds Chill Seeking on Curragh running but Smullen`s mount, a daughter of Theatrical, should relish the forecast 'good' ground.

Al Ubur ran fourth of 14 to Toroca at the Curragh last month, a performance considerably boosted by Toroca`s subsequent third in the Newmarket Guineas, and Al Ubur looks good for the opener.

Kinane currently is on the 13 mark in Ireland, two behind Smullen, but can keep tabs on his rival courtesy of Experimental in the mile and a quarter handicap. Trained by Wicklowbased Philip Rothwell, Experi- mental was well fancied at Leopardstown last Sunday but seemed to run in patches behind Albatros. A shaper performance will be needed this evening but Kinane could inspire one.

Caumshinaun has picked up a 5lb penalty for winning atLeopardstown and has to carry 10-5 in the seven-furlong handicap. She did win despite drifting alarmingly in the closing stages so cannot be ignored, but maybe the weight concession to Steval could be tricky.

Pipalong smashed through the #400,000 barrier as she bounced back to form to avenge last year`s defeat in the Duke Of York Victor Chandler Stakes at York yesterday. Tedburrow finished fast in second place, a neck away, with Astonished taking third.

THE IRISH TIMES