Photo Courtesy of Eclipse SportsWire
By Jack Shinar, Blood-Horse
Wise Dan is headed to the Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) this fall as one of the favorites after his smashing win as the 1-2 choice in the Ricoh Woodbine Mile (Can-IT) Sept. 16 on the Woodbine grass course .
With John Velazquez aboard in the $1,031,168 event, Wise Dan exploited an opening between horses coming off the turn and drew off through the long Woodbine stretch to win impressively by 3 1/4 lengths. Wise Danbecame the lowest-priced winner in the 25-year history of the Woodbine Mile, returning $3.10 for the victory .
Wise Dan's victory gave trainer Charles Lopresti consecutive wins in the Woodbine Mile following Turallure, who posted a 6-1 upset last year. Lopresti trains Wise Dan for Morton Fink, who assured viewers on TVG that his Kentucky homebred would be heading to Santa Anita Park Nov. 3 for the BC Mile.
The Woodbine Mile was a Breeders' Cup Challenge racet with Fink earning an automatic expense-paid trip to the championship event with his highly-regarded 5-year-old Wiseman's Ferry gelding.
"We'll be there," he assured viewers before rushing off to the winner's circle.
The final time was 1:34.07 over a turf course upgraded to firm before the race.
Hunters Bay, making his initial start on turf, ran second, with European invader Cityscape, the 3-1 second choice, finishing third.
Wise Dan came into the race off a five-length tally in the one-mile Fourstardave Handicap (gr. IIT) Aug. 11, earning a 109 Beyer speed figure over a yielding inner turf layout at Saratoga Race Course. The versatile gelding is now 3-for-4 on the grass, all at the mile distance. Wise Dan earned his second grade I victory following a win the Clark Handicap (gr. I) on the dirt at Churchill Downs last November.
The victory was worth $617,220, boosting Wise Dan's career earnings to more than $2 million.
Velazquez had Wise Dan ideally spotted, tracking the leaders Worthadd and 107-1 Artic Fern with Dubai Duty Free (UAE-IT) winner Cityscape also stalking forwardly. The favorite bided his time as Worthadd and Artic Fern vied through reasonable quarter mile fractions of :23.78 and :46.90. Wise Dan drew closer rounding the bend, found an opening between the leaders, and took a one-length lead at the head of the lane after they had completed six furlongs in 1:10.38.
Worthadd tried to cling to the new leader but tired as Wise Dan opened up by two lengths at mid-stretch. Cityscape, up on the outside, appeared to have a chance but evened out in the drive for James Doyle. The rallying Hunters Bay, ridden by Emma-Jayne Wilson, closed in the final furlong to take over second but was no threat to the winner. Wise Dan, in complete control, finished up with Velazquez merely showing him the whip.
Hunters Bay finished one length better than Cityscape with Riding the River charging belatedly from last in the nine-horse field to be fourth. Dance And Dance, Big Band Sound, Worthadd, Hollinger, and Artic Fern followed.
Wise Dan, who is out of the Wolf Power mare Lisa Danielle, has now banked $2,011,638 while winning 11 of 18 lifetime starts. He paid $3.10, $2.70, and $2.10 across the board while carrying 121 pounds, three fewer than the top-weighted Cityscape.
Hunters Bay tried grass for the first time after winning three races in a row earlier this year over Woodbine's Polytrack, including a pair of grade III events for trainer Read Baker. The Stronach Stables-owned son of Ghostzapper acquitted himself well while second best, returning $6.30 and $4.40. The exacta paid $2.7.30.
Juddmonte's 6-year-old Cityscape, second last time out in the Prix Jacques la Marois (Fr-I) at Deauville Aug. 12, paid $2.90 to show while rounding out a $131 trifecta for a $2 bet.
For an Equibase chart, click here.