Wise Dan is unquestionably one of America's best turf horses, posting impressive victories in the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile and Grade 2 Fourstardave Handicap in his last two starts, and the talented gelding looks poised to make a serious assault upon the November 3 Breeders' Cup Mile. He will receive his final tune-up in Saturday's Grade 1, $750,000 Shadwell Turf Mile, one of five graded stakes races on a strong Keeneland program.
Trained by Charles Lopresti, Wise Dan is as versatile as they come, winning graded stakes on turf, dirt and synthetics, and the five-year-old rolled to a track record-setting victory in his last appearance at Keeneland, taking the Grade 2 Fayette Stakes on Polytrack. He possesses a four for five mark on turf, but the lone setback came in last year's Shadwell as Wise Dan finished fourth behind three-time champion Gio Ponti.
The chestnut looks much more formidable this time around and should be a heavy favorite with Jose Lezcano, a one-race replacement for John Velazquez, who is honoring a previous commitment at Belmont Park. Wise Dan breaks from post 5 in the 12-horse field.
Silver Max will have to be caught from post 10. The Dale Romans-conditioned colt turned in a tour-de-force performance on Keeneland's turf last April, winning the Grade 3 Transylvania Stakes by a widening 5 1/2-length margin in wire-to-wire style, and the speedster backed it up with consecutive wins in the Grade 2 American Turf, Arlington Classic, Oliver Stakes and Grade 2 Virginia Derby. His six-race win skein came to an end in the Grade 1 Secretariat last out, at a 1 1/4-mile distance that isn't favorable, but Silver Max should relish the cutback in trip off a deserved 49-day freshening. Robby Albarado rides. Data Link also showed an affinity for the course in April, posting a 12-1 upset in the Grade 1 Maker's 46 Mile, and the Shug McGaughey-trained colt captured the Grade 2 Monmouth Stakes two starts later. He exits a respectable second in the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch in which there was little pace. The late runner figures to receive a much more favorable set-up Saturday with Alex Solis.
Todd Pletcher will send out a pair in Dominus and Doubles Partner. Dominus has won two straight since a trainer switch, including a wire-to-wire tally in the Bernard Baruch in his turf bow, and the four-year-old colt will likely revert to rating tactics from post 11. Julien Leparoux retains the mount. Grade 2 hero Doubles Partner will make his first start since early May, checking in a decent fourth in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic, and the five-year-old ran well when finishing a troubled third in the Maker's 46 Mile two start back, beaten less than a length. Javier Castellano will guide. Trainer Chad Brown will send out Grade 3 hero Corporate Jungle, who exits a non-threatening second in the Fourstardave, and Grade 2 winner Willcox Inn brings solid credentials into the race for Michael Stidham.
Daisy Devine will bring a two for two mark over the course into the Grade 1, $350,000 First Lady Stakes, a one-mile turf affair that will feature six fillies and mares. She made her turf bow at Keeneland 12 months ago, springing a 43-1 upset in the Valley View Stakes, and followed it with a pair of sharp stakes wins on Fair Grounds' turf. She then rolled to a one-length score in Keeneland's Grade 1 Jenny Wiley last April, and Daisy Devine will attempt to join Intercontinental (2005) and Never Retreat (2011) as the only females to win both races in the same year.
Trained by Andrew McKeever, Daisy Devine will make her first start since a fifth in the Grade 2 Distaff Turf Mile in early May. Regular rider James Graham will be back up on the four-year-old filly.
Tapitsfly will look to turn things around following a pair of unplaced efforts in the Grade 1 Diana and Grade 2 Ballston Spa. The Romans charge won her last attempt at a mile, taking the Grade 1 Just a Game Stakes at Belmont Park in early June, and will likely show speed from her inside post with new jockey Lezcano. Summer Soiree is a candidate to improve off a third in the Ballston Spa in her 2012 debut. The Graham Motion-trained filly captured the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks and finished a close second in the Grade 1 Matriarch last season. Distaff Turf Mile winner Hungry Island is another contender, finishing second in the Ballston Spa most recently for Shug McGaughey.