Wise Dan back at Keeneland; Romans lobbies for Little Mike

Wise Dan, the course record-setting victor in Saturday's Breeders' Cup Mile, left Santa Anita early Sunday morning and arrived at Blue Grass Airport in Lexington, Kentucky, at 11:35 a.m. (EST).

Amy Lopresti, wife of trainer Charles Lopresti, gave an update on the Horse of the Year candidate.

"He's back in his stall now," she reported from Barn 62 at Keeneland, located just across the road from Blue Grass Airport, an hour after Wise Dan landed.

"He was eager to get off the van and be back home."

The trainer was on a later flight out of Los Angeles and due in Kentucky later Sunday.

The victory by Wise Dan, coupled with Groupie Doll's victory in the Filly & Mare Sprint and Fort Larned in the Classic, capped a big day for a close-knit group of connections.

"We were all so happy for Buff (Bradley, trainer of Groupie Doll) and Ian (Wilkes, trainer of Fort Larned)," Amy Lopresti said. "They are all nice people. We are all blessed to have horses like that, and it has been a pretty remarkable last three years for Charlie with horses like Wise Dan, Successful Dan and Turallure."

Trainer Buff Bradley had a 6 o'clock flight to Kentucky Sunday morning, leaving groom Matt Hebert in charge of things with Groupie Doll.

"She's good this morning and ate up everything last night," said Hebert, who will accompany the dominating Filly & Mare Sprint winner back to Kentucky later Sunday. "She ran hard yesterday and slept a lot last night."

Plans for Wise Dan include spending the winter at the Lopresti farm where Wise Dan has spent the winter the past two years before returning to the races the following April at Keeneland.

"He will probably get 45 to 60 days at the farm, but it is up to him," Amy Lopresti said of Wise Dan. "Charlie won't get in a big hurry with him because the goal is to have the horse at his best toward the mid- to late-summer and the fall for the big races."

Trainer Dale Romans reported that all of his Breeders' Cup starters -- Turf hero Little Mike; Dullahan, ninth in the Turf; Moonwalk, seventh in the Juvenile Fillies Turf; Shackleford, seventh in the Dirt Mile; and Summit County, 12th in the Juvenile Turf -- came out of their respective races in good order.

After Little Mike's record-setting win in the Turf, Romans visited the winner's circle with friends, Carlo and Priscilla Vaccarezza, the breeder and owners of the popular five-year-old gelding.

"Mike is a special horse for us and Carlo is one of my close friends. It was a great day for everyone," Romans said.

Little Mike, a front-running specialist who won the Grade 1 Arlington Million and Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic on the lead, found himself in the unfamiliar position of racing off the lead in the 1 1/2-mile turf race. The son of Spanish Steps rated nicely in third behind Turbo Compressor and Optimizer before gaining the lead leaving the turn into the homestretch and holding off favored Point of Entry by a half-length.

"He's faster than most horses. We had a plan for the first 100 yards to give him a shot to go to the front, but I thought those two horses might outsprint him to the lead, and they did," Romans said. "We told Ramon (Dominguez) just be ahead of the real contenders, because any horse that would get in front of him would have to go too fast to finish anyway."

Romans stated Little Mike's case for being voted the Eclipse Award for male turf performer.

"I don't see how anyone can beat Mike for turf champion. I know that Wise Dan is a great racehorse, but I don't think his resume stacks up to Mike's. He won one of the major races in America and the Arlington Million and the Turf Classic."

Romans will ship Little Mike back to Kentucky before continuing on to Florida for the winter.

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