Wise Dan 'perfect' in final major move at Keeneland before Mile
Multiple Grade 1 hero Wise Dan, one of the top contenders for the $2 million Breeders' Cup Mile on November 3 at Santa Anita, completed his major work for his California test by working five furlongs on Keeneland's Polytrack in a bullet, best of 18, 1:00 2/5 on a cool, clear Saturday morning.
With regular exercise rider Damien Rock up and working on his own at 6:30 a.m. (EDT), the Wiseman's Ferry gelding posted fractions of :12, :23 3/5, :35 3/5 and :47 3/5 before galloping out six furlongs in 1:13 2/5.
"That was perfect. That's just the way he is; it just looks like he is loping out there," trainer Charles Lopresti said. "This has worked out perfectly. I got to run him in the (Grade 1) Shadwell (Turf Mile at Keeneland) rather than working him three times (from the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile on September 16 to the Breeders' Cup)."
Wise Dan captured both of those races, as well as the Grade 2 Fourstardave Handicap and Grade 3 Ben Ali this season, with his only loss in 2012 being a head second in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap in mid-June. The five-year-old chestnut is scheduled to ship to California on October 30, with Lopresti heading out the day before.
"I'm just going to piddle with him next week and keep him happy," Lopresti explained. "He spends a lot of time down on the little (training) track and we mix it up. He will train here the Tuesday morning before he ships that day. He'll have a walk day Wednesday to get over the ship and then train Thursday and school in the paddock."
A Grade 1 winner on dirt and grass, Wise Dan has won 12 of 19 starts and bankrolled nearly $2.5 million. At the mile distance on turf, the talented veteran has won four of five starts with his lone setback coming in last fall's Shadwell Turf Mile, in which he finished fourth behind champion Gio Ponti.
"I think I've got him figured out and less is more with him," Lopresti remarked. "I think he has gotten a lot more confident as he has gotten older and he likes the turf."
Four other Breeders' Cup hopefuls also worked Saturday morning at Keeneland.
Grade 2 victor Willcox Inn took to the track for the first time since his runner-up finish to Wise Dan in the Shadwell Turf Mile. With assistant Hilary Pridham aboard for trainer Mike Stidham, the four-year-old Harlan's Holiday colt worked four furlongs in :48 3/5.
Clockers caught Willcox Inn in splits of :12 3/5, :24 4/5, :37 1/5 and :48 3/5 with a gallop out time of 1:01 3/5 for five furlongs.
"He starts off nice and relaxed and finishes with a lot of energy; he finished the last eighth in :11 and change and then a good gallop out all the way around the turn, and that's what we wanted," Stidham said.
Stidham said Willcox Inn would have one more work in a week, then ship to California for the Mile on October 28.
Stakes scorer Brown Almighty, runner-up via disqualification in the Grade 3 Bourbon on October 7, breezed a half-mile in :49 2/5 under jockey Kent Desormeaux for trainer Tim Ice. The Big Brown colt is headed for the $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf on November 3.
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