12/02/2010 3:15PM

Merritt looking to double up in Whitworth


STICKNEY, Ill. – The only stakes win of trainer Lisa Merritt’s career came in the 2009 Pat Whitworth Illinois Debutante. Lo and behold, Merritt looks live again in the 2010 Whitworth, which Seans Silverdancer will try to win in just her second career start.

Seans Silverdancer was one of 11 Illinois-bred 2-year-old fillies entered in the Whitworth, which will be contested at 1 1/16 miles. Merritt’s winner in 2009, Sweet Lemon Chello, was making her sixth career start when she won this race last year, while Seans Silverdancer has only an Illinois-bred maiden sprint win on her r é sum é . But Merritt believes her filly’s talent might be able to overcome her lack of experience.

“We had thought a whole lot of her all summer long, before I got her started,” Merritt said. “Pedigree-wise, she should be able to stretch out. I do wish she was more seasoned, but we didn’t have a chance to get her back in again.”

Seans Silverdancer, by Najran, made an early move between horses, made the lead, and held gamely to narrowly win her career debut here Nov. 5. That maiden race might have been every bit as tough as the Whitworth, which includes not a single horse who has won an allowance race. And while Merritt wonders how her filly will handle two turns Saturday, none of her opponents have won a route race, either.

“I’d say maturity-wise she’s made a lot of progress from her first race,” said Merritt, who has slowed down Seans Silverdancer’s works since her debut. “She has relaxed in the morning.”

Rail-drawn Point Your Finger is still a maiden after seven starts but did not disgrace herself in two previous two-turn starts and had little chance last out in the six-furlong Showtime Deb Stakes at Hawthorne after breaking slowly from the rail. Other possible contenders include two horses from the barn of Percy Scherbenske, though it is hard to know whether to prefer Nikaluk or De Lica. The morning-line favorite, Love This Kitten, has yet to try two turns and exits a $25,000 conditioned claiming race.