Silver Max defeated 2012 Horse of the Year Wise Dan (background, yellow silks) in the Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes on Saturday at Keeneland to end Wise Dan's nine-race winning streak. (Keeneland photo)
By Tom Pedulla, America’s Best Racing
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Wise Dan seemingly had everything go his way when he rattled off nine consecutive victories in a streak that began in August 2012 with a 5-length romp in the Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga and extended through a sensational performance in the Woodbine Mile three weeks ago.
Then came a scheduled start in the Shadwell Turf Mile on Saturday, the centerpiece of Fall Stars weekend at Keeneland Race Course. Nothing went as expected.
A sun-splashed morning yielded to dark clouds that dumped an inch and a half of rain and forced the much-anticipated mile to be contested at 1 1/16 miles on Polytrack that had suddenly turned slick. No one will ever know if those unexpected events combined to make reigning Horse of the Year beatable again.
“Johnny said he was trying hard, but he got a little tired,” LoPresti said.
He will send the 6-year-old son of Wiseman’s Ferry to defend his title in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita “as long as he comes out of it okay.”
Jockey Julien Leparoux said the surface change was made by management after riders who competed in the Grade 1 First Lady Stakes expressed concern about the safety of the turf following the deluge of rain.
LoPresti was fully supportive of the decision. He noted that he intended to scratch if the contest remained on the soggy turf.
“I wasn’t going to run him because what was the point to run him on soft turf where he could get hurt?” LoPresti said.
Wise Dan had not fallen short since he missed by a head after an extremely difficult trip in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap last June 16 at Churchill Downs, also on the main track.
“He ran a good race. He just didn’t run his ‘A’ game today,” Velazquez said. “I’s really wet and it seemed like he was tiring from it. He couldn’t seem to get his [footing]. After that, he kept trying.”
In one sense, the outcome was not shocking because Silver Max is clearly getting very good at the ideal time. He owns a three-race winning streak after adding this success to a 5 ¾-length rout in the Oceanport Stakes at Monmouth and a 2-length score in the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch at Saratoga on Aug. 31.
“We had a tired horse last fall,” Romans said. “This fall, we’re just peaking.”
Silver Max held off Wise Dan to win the Shadwell Turf Mile (Keeneland photo)
In other key races on Saturday:
Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity: Call this another example of how well trainer Todd Pletcher knows his stock. Owner Ken Ramsey wanted to send Canadian-bred We Miss Artie to a stakes race at Woodbine. Pletcher persuaded him to target the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland.
We Miss Artie closed resolutely to prevail by 2 ¾ lengths for Velazquez. Ramsey pointed to a pocketful of winning tickets on a longshot that paid $21.80 for a $2 win wager. “I’m flush,” he said.
Ramsey looks forward to sending We Miss Artie on to Santa Anita since the Futurity carried an automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup. “We’ve got a win and you’re in,” Ramsey said. “We’re not going to waste it.”
We Miss Artie, a son of Artie Schiller, will be pointed to either the Juvenile Turf or the Juvenile. “I’ll talk to Todd about that,” said Ramsey, who is smart enough to know when to listen.
We Miss Artie powers clear to win the Breeders' Futurity. (Keeneland photo)
First Lady Stakes: Better Lucky earned her first win in four starts this year when she held off determined Dayatthespa by a desperate head under a patient ride from jockey Julien Leparoux. Front-running Daisy Devine weakened to finish third.
Better Lucky held off Dayatthespa to win the First Lady. (Keeneland photo)
Woodford Stakes: Havelock, unhurried in the early going by jockey Garrett Gomez, staged a dramatic rally from last in the field of 10 and pulled away by two lengths while Gomez kept his whip at the side.
Havelock was much the best in the Woodford Stakes. (Keeneland photo)
Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes: Judy the Beauty is headed for the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint after winning for the third time in as many starts at Keeneland.
“Any time you have home-court advantage, that’s probably a big advantage,” said trainer Wesley Ward. “And that’s what we have here.”
Gypsy Robin took second. Groupie Doll, winner of last year’s Filly and Mare Sprint, was a well-beaten third. The 5-year-old daughter of Bowman’s Band is to be auctioned at Keeneland’s November breeding stock sale.
Judy the Beauty won the TCA Stakes, defeating heavily favored Groupie Doll. (Keeneland photo)