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EXCLUSIVE: DWTS Runner-Up Picks This Season's Winner

Sep. 25 2009, Published 6:37 a.m. ET

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Gilles Marini may have fallen short of the grand prize last season on Dancing With The Stars, but he still knows how to pick a winner.  Though former pop stars Aaron Carter and Donny Osmond emerged as clear frontrunners with their considerable dance experience, Marini told that the one to watch is  “Iron Chef America” chairman Mark Dacascos.

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“I like to see the underdog make a statement. You don’t have to be like Aaron Carter. he’s danced all his life,” Marini alum told during the Macy and American Express Passport AIDS fundraiser in Los Angeles. “The purpose of the show is that someone can teach someone something. And Mark Dacasos is really that person.”

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Marini isn’t the only one who thinks Dacascos is a serious contender. Following his martial arts-inspired cha-cha-cha, Dacascos scored a 21 from the judges, with judge Bruno Tonioli stating, “the talent is there, so, you know, keep it tight.”

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Still, the hottie hoofer says this season’s contestants need to step up their game. “They need to work a little harder,” said Marini. “The quality of the dance is a littler lower I feel.”



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