Trainer Says Big 'Cap's Dansant For Real

English invader has built a reputation as Europe's top synthetic track specialist.

(from Santa Anita notes)

Great Britain-based trainer Gerard Butler, whose synthetic track specialist Dansant is entered in the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) March 7,  says he didn’t fly across the pond just for a Santa Anita reunion.

“He’s arguably the best all-weather horse in England, or in Europe,” the 42-year-old Irish trainer said of Dansant, 20-1 on the morning line for the Big 'Cap. “We spoke about going to Dubai (for the $6 million World Cup on March 28). We were there last year, and he didn’t like the track. In a consultation with the owner, we decided the next best place to go would be back on a synthetic surface, and the Big ’Cap was a logical choice.”

Dansant, owned by Mrs. Barbara Keller of Switzerland, has raced on synthetic eight times, winning five races with one second.

Butler worked for D. Wayne Lukas in the 1990s at Santa Anita, Monmouth Park, Belmont Park and Saratoga, and “did the whole thing with Wayne for four years, and covered a lot of ground.

"My home is in Ireland, but I’ve been in England for the last 10 years,” he said. “We’ve had plenty of runners in America, but none here on the West Coast. Dansant is our first runner in California.”

Butler said he was lured by Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride, and he hasn’t been disappointed.

“The synthetic surface is a huge attraction for us,” he said. “It’s a lovely surface. We have no complaints, but we’ll see how he fares on Saturday. It’s very kind, very fair. If he comes out of it OK, we’d come back for the Breeders’ Cup (at Oak Tree on Nov. 6 and 7).

“Touch wood, so far, so good. He’s doing well here. His mind is very good, he’s relaxed, and we don’t need to do anything more with him. He hasn’t had a breeze over this track, but I don’t think he’s had to. His last work was at Lingfield Park (on a synthetic track) over a mile and a quarter. We didn’t get a time on it, but he went very, very well. This was about 12 days ago. He’s been running all winter long, so there are no problems with his fitness.”

Dansant, a 5-year-old English-bred horse by Dansili, has a 7-3-1 record from 19 starts, with earnings of $277,069.