Post is gate to disappointment for fourth-place Dance Floor


With a different post position for yesterday's Preakness, Dance Floor might well have been too legit to quit.

But starting out of the 14th slot, the horse, owned by the family of rap star Hammer, got bogged down with a distance that it couldn't make up.

"It was too much to overcome," said Lewis Burrell, Hammer's father and a co-owner of Dance Floor.

"We knew the gate was going to be a big factor. No horse has ever won the Preakness coming out of the 14th slot."

Common wisdom held that Dance Floor, a speed horse, would have too much ground to make up to run an effective race.

And the prophecy held as the horse finished fourth, barely out of the money, three lengths behind the winner, Pine Bluff, who passed him just after the final turn.

"He ran a super strong race. He just couldn't hold them off," said D. Wayne Lukas, Dance Floor's trainer.

Despite the starting position, Dance Floor, which finished third in the Kentucky Derby, had a chance to finish third, but was nudged out by Casual Lies near the finish line.

Afterward, Lukas gave his horse, who finished out of the money for only the fourth time in 13 lifetime starts, a passing mark.

"He ran an impressive race in many ways. Chris [jockey Antley] said he had to move him a little bit early, but I thought he rode fine."

"He ran good," said Antley, "but my biggest concern was the first turn and he handled it well. We looked at the race -- the Burrells, Hammer, Wayne and I -- and it worked out great."

Ultimately, however, Dance Floor was simply unable to overcome his start from the gate.

"If we trade holes with any of them, we might be second or third," said Lukas.

This wasn't the first time that Dance Floor had been forced to contend with a bad post position, though he drew the rail in two starts last winter.

At March 14th's Florida Derby, the horse started in the 11th position in a 12-horse race, and finished second, 4 1/2 lengths off the pace.

One month later, in the Blue Grass Stakes, Dance Floor came out of the six hole in an 11-horse field and finished fourth.

In the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago, Dance Floor came out of the 16th slot in an 18-horse race.

"Our horse is a good horse, but he's not a horse that can dominate. He's not a one-of-a-kind horse," said Burrell. "That's // why we screamed so much about the draw. But we still ran and if we have a horse next year, we'll be back."

"He's put two terribly consistent races back to back," said Lukas. "Those are just really tough positions to come from. He has just not been fortunate in the draw."

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