With Saturday's Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile now in his rearview mirror,
trainer Charles Lopresti can look ahead to the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita next
month for stable star Wise Dan.
"I knew I did the right thing by the way he ran," said Lopresti, who brought Wise Dan back to the races three weeks after a victory in the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile. "I was concerned going in because of the new rider (Jose Lezcano, who filled in for John Velazquez, who had a prior commitment at Belmont Park) and traffic with a lot of horses."
Lezcano kept Wise Dan in the clear the whole way, sweeping to the lead coming off the final turn and cruising to a 2 1/4-length triumph over Willcox Inn."It worked out perfect," Lopresti said of the victory over 11 rivals that was the fourth at Keeneland for Wise Dan, who is owned by breeder Morton Fink. "It was like a workout for him."
The four victories tie Wise Dan with Take Charge Lady for the most stakes victories at Keeneland. Wise Dan also has won the 2010 Grade 3 Phoenix, 2011 Grade 2 Fayette and 2012 Grade 3 Ben Ali. Take Charge Lady won the 2001 Grade 2 Alcibiades, 2002 Grade 1 Ashland and the 2002 and 2003 Grade 1 Spinster.
Lopresti said Wise Dan likely would have one work here at Keeneland before shipping to Santa Anita.
"I know you have to be out there by Wednesday (October 31) and I would like get there as close to the race as possible," Lopresti said of Wise Dan, who has won his past three starts on turf by a combined 10 1/2 lengths.
Wise Dan also is a Grade 1 winner on dirt. Although the five-year-old Wiseman's Ferry gelding earned a berth in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Mile on grass on November 3 with his Woodbine victory, there is a $5 million carrot in the Breeders' Cup Classic that same day.
"I am going to talk it over with (owner) Mr. (Mort) Fink, but we will probably stick with the Mile," Lopresti said. "I am a little concerned about the track out there being a bit loose and speed favoring. For him to run on a track that he never has been on and face a horse like Game On Dude that has won over the track would be like throwing him to the wolves."
Willcox Inn might have earned a trip to the Breeders' Cup Mile with his runner-up finish to Wise Dan, trainer Mike Stidham said Sunday.
"We'll see how he comes out of the race," Stidham said about the four-year-old Harlan's Holiday colt, who was a 48-1 longshot in the Shadwell Turf Mile.
Following Groupie Doll's dominating, 6 1/2-length victory under Rajiv Maragh in Saturday's Grade 2 Thoroughbred Club of America, co-owner, co-breeder and trainer Buff Bradley had a minor scare.
"They called me away from the champagne reception after the race from the test barn," Bradley said, explaining the call had been made because of the filly's demeanor. "I got there and she was not even blowing hard. It was like she didn't do anything. She was just telling me 'Let's go home.'"
So home she went back to Churchill Downs, where Bradley reported she ate up everything last night and was grazing this morning.
The victory earned Groupie Doll an expense-paid trip to Santa Anita for the $1 million Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint to be run November 3.
The four-year-old daughter of Bowman's Band, now a millionaire after Saturday's victory, has won four graded stakes in a row by a combined 20 1/2 lengths. She will step into the deepest of waters as one of the biggest favorites at the Breeders' Cup.
"I went to bed at 11 last night but I woke up at 2:30 because I was so jacked up," said Bradley, who owns Groupie Doll with his father, Fred, Carl Hurst and Brent Burns.
"I drove to McDonald's and bought breakfast for everybody at the barn and then it sunk in. She has been so dominant and you just watch her and can't believe she keeps doing it and so easily."
According to Trakus, which records individual sectional times and distance covered for races at Keeneland, Groupie Doll's final furlong Saturday was 0.69 seconds faster than the next-fastest finisher in the race.
Bradley hopes to work Groupie Doll "a couple of easy halves" prior to the Breeders' Cup with the final work coming at Santa Anita.
"I would like to let her stretch her legs out there and get her there a week before the race," Bradley said. "I think there is a flight on the Friday before (October 26) and that would be ideal."
Bluegrass Equine Bloodstock's Joha returned to trainer Mike Maker's barn at Louisville's Trackside Training Center this morning after exiting his victory in the Saturday's Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity in good order.
The victory earned Joha a berth in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile on November 3. However, Maker said that the $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf to be run the same day may be the more likely target for Joha, who has a win and second in two grass starts.