Morton Fink's homebred Wise Dan was "The Man" in the Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes (gr. IT) Oct 6 at Keeneland in Central Kentucky. The odds-on favorite rallied five wide to take the $750,000 race, defeating 48-1 longshot Willcox Inn by 2 1/2 lengths over a firm course (VIDEO).
"He's good; he's really good," said Charles Lopresti, who is Wise Dan's trainer.
The 5-year-old gelded son of Wiseman's Ferry won his third race in a row and his 12th in 19 career outings. His $450,000 winner's share of the purse raised his earnings to $2,461,638.
Lopresti said after the Shadwell Turf Mile that Wise Dan was headed next to the Breeders' Cup World Championships at California's Santa Anita Park next month. But the trainer wasn't sure whether his talented runner would end up in the Mile (gr. I) or the Classic (gr. I).
"We'll lean toward the Mile, but we won't rule out the Classic," Lopresti said. "Listening to everybody talk, I think he deserves to run in the Classic."
Wise Dan has lost only once in five races this year, finishing second to Ron the Greek in the Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) in June. His other efforts this year include victories in the Ben Ali Stakes (gr. III) at Keeneland and the Fourstardave Handicap (gr. IIT) at Saratoga Race Course. In his last outing prior to the Shadwell Turf Mile, Wise Dan notched a 3 1/4-length victory in the Ricoh Woodbine Mile Stakes (Can-IT) Sept. 16.
"He gained weight from the Woodbine Mile," Lopresti said. "I worked him one time here (at Keeneland), and he just worked incredible here one morning. I told Mr. Fink, 'We've just got to run him again. I don't want to breeze him too many more times.' I was worried. There were a lot of horses in here. Coming back off shipping to Woodbine and all, I was a little concerned. But I knew I was doing the right thing. The horse is good and he showed up today."
Ridden by Jose Lezcano, Wise Dan faced 11 challengers in the Shadwell. Silver Max showed the way early, setting fractions of :23.33 for the first quarter mile and :46.89 for the half. Then he started fading; his closest stalker, Dominus moved up; and Wise Dan, who had been the last to break from the starting gate, was charging from the outside with a sweeping move.
At the completion of three-quarters of a mile, Dominus was a head in front of Wise Dan. But the eventual winner flew by and at the stretch call was in front by 3 1/2 lengths. The chestnut gelding completed the mile in 1:34.94. Willcox Inn advanced from sixth to second in the final quarter mile, but didn't seriously threaten the winner.
"I got very good trip," said Lezcano, who was riding Wise Dan for the first time while the gelding's regular jockey, John Velazquez, was busy in New York. "He broke very good and he got into position well. When I asked him, he was good. Thank you, Mr. Charlie (Lopresti) for the opportunity to ride this horse. I appreciate it."
Willcox Inn finished 2 3/4 lengths ahead of Slip and Drive, who was third. Doubles Partner was another length back in fourth. They were followed by Data Link, Dominus , Corporate Jungle, Swift Warrior, Silver Max, Skyring, and Worthadd. Ol Army was last.
"I couldn't go with (Wise Dan) on that first turn," said James Graham, who rode Willcox Inn. "In the middle of the second turn, I said to myself, 'We are going to be fifth.' Then I picked him and boom, off he went. That horse (Wise Dan) is incredible. My horse is just coming into himself. He has very quick turn of foot."
Bred in Kentucky, Wise Dan is out of the winning Wolf Power mare Lisa Danielle and is a half brother to Successful Dan (by Successful Appeal ), winner of this year's Alysheba Stakes (gr. II), 2010 Greenbrier Fayette Stakes (gr. II) at Keeneland, and the 2009 Northern Dancer Stakes (gr. III). Wise Dan is also a half brother to 2004 added-money winner Our Royal Dancer (by Roy).
Wise Dan paid $3.20, $2.40, and $2.40 to his Shadwell Turf Mile backers. Willcox Inn returned $23.60 and $11. Slip and Drive paid $20.40.