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The way the year has been going for Stanley Dancer, the little millionaire from New Egypt, N.J. could draw three cards to an inside straight and never come up empty. There is Albatross, his 4-year-old pacer who has long since pushed past the million mark in winnings. And then there is Super Bowl, a year younger and, going into last Friday night's $50,000 Pacific Trot at Hollywood Park, the winner of 22 races—including the Triple Crown—and more than $400,000 in 1972. That's like finding a gold mine in the middle of your oil field. But when Dancer entered Super Bowl in the Pacific Trot, well, there were those who thought his love affair with Lady Luck was headed for splitsville. The race is a free-for-all, which means it is open to trotters of any age, and obviously no place for a tender 3-year-old.
The Pacific is the last prep race for this Friday night's $100,000 American Classic at Hollywood, and it is rare for a class trotter—over the age of 3—to pass up a shot at the $22,500 top prize. This time was no different. There was, for example, Une de Mai, the 8-year-old French mare who has added $1.6 million to Count Pierre de Montesson's meat-packing fortune. The last 3-year-old to win a major free-for-all at Hollywood Park was Armbro Flight in 1965, and Super Bowl's chances of ending that drought appeared even slimmer when Une de Mai reportedly worked 1� miles in world-record time.
"Aw, I don't really believe that," Dancer scoffed mildly. "You know those Frenchmen, they never use a stopwatch. They get all their times out of their heads."
To further complicate Super Bowl's young life, Flower Child and Dayan were in the race. The latter won the American Classic two years ago. Flower Child had won seven straight races before Dayan snapped that streak last month.
"A 3-year-old is out of his class in a free-for-all," said Kirk Kirstein, the retired New Jersey textile man who is one of Dayan's owners. "Take Super Bowl. He's won his last 17 races, but always against the same competition. The older a horse gets, the stronger he gets. All these horses will take a shot at Super Bowl. He's used to fighting off maybe one challenge. In this race he'll fight off one challenge and somebody else will challenge. And if we get out in front, he won't have to worry about challenges because the race will be over."
But Dayan has been having his problems. Last year in Toronto three men locked Ollie Webb, the horse's groom, into a tack room. When Webb finally broke out, he found Dayan foaming at the mouth. "Somebody got to him," said Kirstein. "He was out for three months and then, when he did come back, he never regained his form. Not until late this year."
Understandably, Kirstein has been very jumpy. When a three-inch slash was discovered across the base of the horse's tail three weeks ago, Kirstein cried foul. "Somebody slashed him with a razor," he charged. "They were trying to cut the cord just above the tail. If they had got that, he*d have been finished for good."
"I don't believe in violence," said Webb, "but if I had caught the guy who cut him, he'd have wound up on the end of my pitchfork." "We've got a damn fine security force here, and they investigated," said Pres Jenuine, Hollywood Park's energetic little general manager. "They found a big sliver in the stall with horsehair on it. That's how he got cut."
Kirstein also is slightly worried, but mostly tongue-in-cheekishly, that Arab guerrillas might get to his horse, whom he named after Moshe Dayan, the Israeli defense minister during the Six-Day War in 1967. Recently an Israeli newspaper writer asked if she could do a feature story on the horse.
"Go away," said Kirstein, recoiling at the request. "You never heard of the horse. You don't know his name. He was named after Dayan O'Sullivan who played first base for the Knights of Columbus. You print a story about him in Israel and some crazy Arab will read it and mail him a plastic bomb in a bale of hay. Me they wouldn't want. The horse, maybe. Chances like that I don't want to take."