Morton Fink's homebred Wise Dan worked a half-mile in :46 1/5 around the “dogs” over a firm turf course at Keeneland Oct. 3 as a final tuneup for the $600,000 Shadwell Turf Mile (gr. IT) Oct. 8.
“Holy smokes. He’s a different horse on grass,” trainer Charlie Lopresti said as Wise Dan completed the exercise regimen with jockey Jon Court up. “He went off easy and I had him coming home the last quarter in :22 and change.”
Clockers timed Wise Dan in :24 for the opening quarter mile and had him galloping out five furlongs in :58 2/5.
A son of Wiseman's Ferry, Wise Dan has won six of 11 starts and earned $473,047. Over Keeneland’s Polytrack surface, he won the 2010 Phoenix Stakes (gr. III).
Wise Dan had been a main track horse until this summer, when Lopresti worked him the first time on grass, with Court aboard. Wise Dan was nominated to the Firecracker Handicap (gr. IIT) on July 4 on turf at Churchill Downs and a week before he got his first turf work at Churchill Downs with Court up.
“I had not considered it before,” Lopresti said. “The only time he had been on grass was galloping up the hills at my farm. The only thing I ever said about him was I thought he’d be a better horse going long.
“The first part of it, he was swapping leads and didn’t know what he was doing, but he came home in 23 seconds,” Lopresti continued. “I talked it over with Morton and we decided to take a shot.”
The wisdom of that decision was evident when Wise Dan won the one-mile Firecracker by 2 3/4 lengths with Court aboard and a turf star was born.
“There were no mile turf races at Saratoga, so that’s why I didn’t take him there,” Lopresti said of the distance at which Wise Dan has won all three attempts.
In his last start, Wise Dan won the Presque Isle Mile Stakes over the Tapeta artificial surface at Presque Isle.
The Shadwell Turf Mile is a “Win and You’re In” race for the TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IT), with the winner receiving an automatic starting berth in the race to be run Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs. Lopresti already has one horse headed to the Mile in Woodbine Mile (Can-IT) winner Turallure, who is scheduled to work on Keeneland’s main track Oct. 4.