Great things were expected of Will Dancer, mainly because the French-bred colt covered 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:15 1/5 despite trouble in his first race in the United States.
That winning performance on Jan. 2 prompted Charlie Whittingham, Will Dancer's trainer, to run him two weeks later in the 1 1/8-mile San Fernando Stakes at Santa Anita. The public was so impressed by Will Dancer's American debut that he was sent off a 7-5 favorite in the San Fernando, only to finish seventh in a 10-horse field.
The San Fernando was followed by several other races at Santa Anita in which Will Dancer didn't live up to expectations.
Whittingham seldom rushes horses, but Friday he indicated that Will Dancer might have been given too much to handle.
"I might have been preparing him too quick for those Strub (Series) races at Santa Anita," Whittingham said. "He couldn't take it mentally."
Will Dancer's win in 1:33 2/5 in a mile grass race at Hollywood Park June 6 was his first victory since Jan. 2. Whittingham has the horse entered in today's $150,000 American Handicap, which is 1 1/16 miles on the turf, but actually, Will Dancer is only the trainer's extra added attraction. Whittingham's other starter, as he tries to win the American for the eighth time, is Palace Music, who is top-weighted at 123 pounds after winning the John Henry Handicap May 4 and losing by a head to Zoffany after taking the long way around in the Inglewood Handicap June 15.
"That last one was a good race for Palace Music," Whittingham said. "In fact, all of his races have been good."
Without the Whittinghams and trainer John Gosden, the American would be a two-horse race between Al Mamoon and First Norman. Michael Whittingham, Charlie's son, has entered Truce Maker today, and Gosden, who beat Palace Music with Zoffany, will saddle both Clever Song and Poly Test.
Horse Racing Notes
John Henry's third workout since he returned to training will be a half-mile this morning. . . . Dontstop Themusic, who will try to win the Vanity Invitational Handicap for the second straight year Sunday, has five opponents--Frau Altiva, Bonne Ile, Truffles, Outstandingly and Magnificent Lindy, who finished second to Dontstop Themusic in the Milady Handicap June 28. . . . Rafael Meza, who broke his collarbone in a spill June 5, resumes riding this weekend and has the mount on Frau Altiva in the Vanity. . . . Charlie Whittingham and Bill Shoemaker teamed up for their 225th stakes win with Hidden Light in last Sunday's Hollywood Oaks. Shoemaker rides Palace Music in the American.