Horse of the Year Wise Dan will be heading to Saratoga Race Course in a couple of weeks after his harrowing win in the Firecracker Handicap (gr. IIT) under the lights at rain-soaked Churchill Downs June 29.
The morning after Wise Dan's two-length win in the Firecracker, trainer Charlie LoPresti said the 6-year-old Mort Fink homebred was in good order. He said Wise Dan would rest up at his Keeneland stable before being sent to upstate New York in mid-July.
"He looks really good today and he doesn't have a scratch on him, believe it or not," LoPresti said.
Wise Dan scraped the hedge on a yielding turf course and bumped with pacesetter Seruni in a driving rain storm while winning the Firecracker under 128 pounds, the highest impost of his career. The Wiseman's Ferry gelding became the first two-time winner of the one-mile Firecracker.
"I watched the race a bunch last night and this morning," LoPresti said. "It was nerve-racking with the weight spread and the way the weather played out, but we got through it. And he handled the weight spread and showed he's truly a great horse. I just hope they don't put too much weight on him down the road."
LoPresti has several options for Wise Dan at Saratoga.
"We're thinking about the Fourstardave (gr. IIT on turf on Aug. 10) and the Whitney (gr. I on dirt on Aug. 3)," LoPresti said. "We'll see how he comes out of it and how he handles going up there. We'll also look at the Bernard Baruch (gr. IIT on turf on Aug. 31) and the Woodward (gr. I on dirt on Aug. 31). There are four races up there that we're looking at with this horse.
"I'd really like to keep him undefeated and I'd like to win a grade I on dirt with him this year. If we get a grade I on dirt with him and then keep him going and get a few wins on the grass and then get to the Breeders' Cup, maybe he'll get Horse of the Year again."
The chestnut's win in the Firecracker was his seventh consecutive victory and the 16th of 23 career starts. He has earned $4,164,070.
Wise Dan's older half-brother, Successful Dan, most recently fourth in the Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I), also will make the trip to Saratoga with LoPresti.
"Successful Dan is going with us too and we'll train him accordingly," LoPresti said. "We'll look at the Whitney and the Woodward with him, as well."