ELMONT, N.Y. – Hayward R. Pressman, Diamond M Stable and Donna Pressman’s New York-bred Step Dancer earned an 83 Beyer for a rail-skimming victory in Saturday’s $80,000 Awad for juvenile colts going 1 1/6-miles on a yielding Widener turf.
Trained by Barclay Tagg, the son of New York sire War Dancer was patiently handled by jockey Dylan Davis, who found an opening along the rail in the stretch run and surged to a three-quarter length score.
Assistant trainer Robin Smullen said Step Dancer will enjoy a little downtime at their winter base at Palm Meadows Training Center in Boynton Beach, Florida, before pointing towards a possible start in the Cutler Bay at one mile on the Gulfstream Park turf on March 27.
“He came out of the race great, but we’re going to give him a little break,” said Smullen. “He’ll come with us to Florida and probably not doing anything for three weeks or so and then we’ll crank him back up and probably run him once down there. We’ll point him towards the Cutler Bay if everything works out. That would get him ready for back here because he can race in the stallion series races.”
Step Dancer posted a rallying 24-1 upset score in his September unveiling on the Saratoga turf ahead of a more prominent third in the Grade 2 Pilgrim on October 3 on the Belmont turf.
“We just did the wrong thing with him in his second start,” said Smullen. “We thought we’d have to lay a little closer because of the inner turf and that’s obviously not the way he wants to run. We learned from our mistake and took him back this time and it worked out great.
“He was very impressive yesterday,” continued Smullen. “He came home with a nice kick and he obviously loved the soft turf. We’ll have to see if he likes the firm turf in Florida. We have the stallion series to look forward to and maybe later in the year there will be something even further. I think more distance the better he’s going to be.”
Smullen praised Davis for a brave ground-saving ride.
“He rode him beautifully. He’s learned so much riding in this colony and he certainly looks like he belongs and he’s riding like he’s right at the top,” said Smullen.
The Tagg barn will ship their stock out of Belmont on Thursday with Smullen making one key stop en route to Florida to watch Sackatoga Stable’s multiple Grade 1-winner Tiz the Law race in Saturday’s Grade 1, $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic.
“You’ve got to love those New York-breds,” said Smullen with a laugh. “It was a great way to top things off here yesterday and if Tiz can pull that off it would be unbelievable.”
Photo: Step Dancer wins Awad. (Chelsea Durand)