Dan Hendricks is inclined to draw a line through Runaway Dancer's last race, an eighth-place finish in the William L. McKnight Handicap (gr. IIT) at Calder Race Course on Dec. 27.
"It didn't work out at all," the trainer said. "He broke slow and then he got blocked in the lane. The dust was flying and it was just horrendous. It was the last day of a 150-day meet."
Runaway Dancer's last three races all have been at 1 ½ miles on turf, as is Monday's $200,000 San Luis Obispo Handicap (gr. IIT), in which the son of Runaway Groom is scheduled to face at least five foes. The San Luis Obispo is the feature race on Monday's special Presidents' Day racing program, with first post time at 12:30 p.m.
"We feel like he's a legitimate mile and a half stakes horse after his last two runs in California," Hendricks said. He was referring to a victory in the Carleton F. Burke Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Oak Tree in October, followed by a fourth-place finish, beaten less than a length, in the Hollywood Turf Cup (gr. IT) Nov. 22. "Going in (to the San Luis Obispo) he's feeling good and doing great." Runaway Dancer, a 5-year-old Kentucky-bred gelding, will be ridden by Mike Smith, who has won all three times he has ridden the horse.
"Mike really likes the horse," Hendricks said. "Off of his first win (with Smith last July) he was really excited about him and the horse has just gotten better since."
Probable for the San Luis Obispo: Continental Red, Julie Krone, 115; Fairly Ransom, Alex Solis, 115; Meteor Storm, Jose Valdivia Jr., 113; Puerto Banus, Victor Espinoza, 115; Researched, Gary Stevens, 115; and Runaway Dancer, Mike Smith, 113.
Fairly Ransom worked five furlongs on Santa Anita's firm turf course Wednesday in 1:02 2/5 for Ron McAnally, while Researched breezed the same distance under Stevens in 1:04 3/5 for Ben Cecil. At Hollywood Park, Continental Red worked five furlongs on a fast track in 1:01 4/5 for Ian Jory.