Defending Horse of the Year Wise Dan after his 4 3/4-length victory in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (gr. IT), and will likely target the $150,000 Firecracker Handicap (gr. IIT) at Churchill Downs, trainer Charlie LoPresti said May 23.
While Wise Dan is five weeks away from the June 29 Firecracker, his half brother, Successful Dan, is on track for a start in the June 15 Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) at the Louisville oval, LoPresti said.
Wise Dan returned to galloping May 20 at Keeneland.
"I haven't really done anything with Wise Dan since the Woodford (May 5)," LoPresti said. "He's jogged for two weeks and I've just now the last three days turned him around and started galloping him, and he's like a monster. He could go on. All he needs to do is be set on the rail and work him once or twice and he can run."
LoPresti wants the 6-year-old Wiseman's Ferry gelding primed for a Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) defense at the end of the season, while Successful Dan could target the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) if all goes well. Out of the Wolf Power mare Lisa Danielle, the siblings are owned by breeder Morton Fink.
Wise Dan is 2-for-2 in 2013, having won the Maker's 46 Mile (gr. IT) at Keeneland before his Woodford score. Successful Dan, a 7-year-old gelded son of Successful Appeal , won the April 21 Ben Ali Stakes (gr. III) at Keeneland off a layup in his only start this year. The big bay had been sidelined with ligament injuries but has been training soundly in 2013.
"He's had two breezes (since the Ben Ali) and he's been perfect," LoPresti said. "I think he deserves a chance. He's never had a chance to run in one of these good races like that, other than the Alysheba last year. He never got a chance to run in the Whitney, he never got a chance to run in any Breeders' Cup races, because it's always been not his time. And right now he's good, as long as Dr. Bramlage says 'OK.'"
After the Woodford, LoPresti originally mentioned training Wise Dan up to a start in the Fourstardave Handicap (gr. IIT) at Saratoga Race Course this summer, an event he won easily in 2012.
"I don't think any of those races really took anything out of him, but it's a long year," LoPresti said. "I'm just trying to preserve him until the real good racing comes, and the real good racing's going to come in the fall... but Mr. Fink But brought up a really good point--you've got 2 1/2 months between races. He said 'Isn't there anywhere else he could run?'
"There's a $200,000 grass race at Woodbine and then there's the Firecracker. I'd rather go in the Firecracker. It's in his backyard, we could run him here, it'd be an easier race for him, and then take him on to Saratoga from there. So that's probably what we're looking at, Wise Dan in the Firecracker and Successful Dan in the Stephen Foster. I'm fine with not running him until Saratoga, but I'm not so sure Mr. Fink's fine with that. I think he wants to run, and I understand."
Wise Dan's record currently stands at 15 wins, six of them earned in grade I events, and a second from 22 starts, with earnings of $4,059,631. Successful Dan has an 8-2-1 mark from 12 outs, with $746,608 in purses. He crossed the wire first in the Clark Handicap (gr. I) in 2010, but was disqualified to third for interference near the three-sixteenths pole. His best win on record is the 2012 Alysheba Stakes (gr. II) score.
"Mr. Fink said, 'Why don't we start thinking about Wise Dan for the Stephen Foster in case something happens to Successful Dan?' That's all well and good, but it's not very fair to crank that horse up and have him ready to run and then let him sit in the barn and do nothing, and we risk getting him hurt as insurance just in case Successful Dan doesn't go," LoPresti said. "If, the week before the Stephen Foster, Successful Dan isn't right, I can't just pull Wise Dan out of the barn."
LoPresti said the Fourstardave at Saratoga would remain the next choice for Wise Dan while, provided all goes according to plan, Successful Dan would be pointed toward the Whitney Invitational Handicap (gr. I) as he was before the ligament issues put him on the shelf in 2012.
"Who knows, maybe we would toy with the Woodward at the end of the meet (as a race for Wise Dan), but it all hinges on what Successful Dan does, too," the trainer said. "I would love to have a chance to put one in the Classic and one in the grass race again, the Mile. That would be a good thing to have, two horses in the Breeders' Cup."