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Blog - RACING

Wise Dan powered through a driving rain to win the Firecracker Handicap on Saturday night at Churchill Downs. (Photo courtesy of Reed Palmer/Churchill Downs)

Reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan overcame a rain-soaked turf course, a traffic jam and a tough weight assignment to win the Firecracker Handicap on Saturday night at Churchill Downs and stay perfect in 2013 with his third win in as many starts.

In handicap races, horses are assigned a weight - based on accomplishment - in an attempt to level the playing field. Wise Dan carried 128 pounds in the Firecracker and conceded from 11 to 14 pounds to his four challengers.

Entering the final turn of the one-mile race, the weight assignment appeared to be the least of Wise Dan’s problems. Wise Dan was hemmed in behind horses with nowhere to run. Several times jockey John Velazquez was forced to steady the champion, who looked ready to run right over pacesetter Seruni.

At the top of the stretch, Wise Dan powered through a narrow opening on the inside of Seruni but that rival battled bravely and then lugged in on Wise Dan, forcing him to brush against the hedge on the inside. Wise Dan would not be denied, however, and drove determinedly clear of Seruni and Lea, who overhauled Seruni for second.

Wise Dan won by two lengths as the overwhelming favorite - a $2 win ticket on Wise Dan returned $2.40 - and completed one mile on turf officially rated yielding in 1:39.82.

Wise Dan was named Horse of the Year, champion older male and champion turf male in 2012 after winning five times with one second-place finish from six start in a campaign capped by a victory over champion Animal Kingdom in the Breeders' Cup Mile.

Wise Dan opened his 2013 season with a win in the Makers' 46 Mile Stakes at Keeneland in April prior to a victory on the Kentucky Derby undercard on may 4 in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic Stakes. The 6-year-old Wiseman's Ferry gelding won the Grade 2 Firecracker for his 16th win in 23 career races. He has earned more than $4.1 million.

Charlie Lopresti trains Wise Dan for owner-breeder Mort Fink.

For an Equibase chart, click here.

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Mike Curry

A native of Philadelphia who grew up in nearby Wilmington, Del., Curry was editor of Thoroughbred Times TODAY before joining the America's Best Racing team in May 2012. He credits his grandfather for the inspiration to repeatedly sneak off to Delaware Park as a 16-year-old and the 1989 rivalry between Sunday Silence and Easy Goer for his passion for horse racing. Curry graduated from the University of Delaware in 1997 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a concentration in Journalism. He worked for the Wilmington News Journal and was Sports Editor of the Cecil Whig before moving to Lexington in 2005.

Image Description

Mike Curry

A native of Philadelphia who grew up in nearby Wilmington, Del., Curry was editor of Thoroughbred Times TODAY before joining the America's Best Racing team in May 2012. He credits his grandfather for the inspiration to repeatedly sneak off to Delaware Park as a 16-year-old and the 1989 rivalry between Sunday Silence and Easy Goer for his passion for horse racing. Curry graduated from the University of Delaware in 1997 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a concentration in Journalism. He worked for the Wilmington News Journal and was Sports Editor of the Cecil Whig before moving to Lexington in 2005.

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