Despite skipping a start in the Aug. 9 Fourstardave Handicap (gr. IIT), two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan moved forward in his recovery from May 16 colic surgery when he worked six furlongs in company that day over the main track at Saratoga Race Course.
According to trainer Charlie LoPresti, the 7-year-old Wiseman's Ferry gelding remains on course for a likely start in the $250,000 Bernard Baruch Handicap (gr. IIT) going 1 1/16 miles Aug. 30 on the Saratoga lawn.
That race would be the first start since May 3, when Morton Fink's homebred won his second edition of the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (gr. IT) at Churchill Downs. Wise Dan started the year by acing a second straight edition of the Maker's 46 Mile (gr. IT) at Keeneland April 11.
Progressing to six furlongs for the first time since his comeback training began with a July 11 move at Keeneland, Wise Dan got the distance in 1:13.25 under regular exercise rider Damien Rock. It was his second work in a row on the Saratoga dirt.
Wise Dan broke off about six lengths back of stablemate Luzianna Man and finished on even terms as planned, LoPresti said. He avoided trouble with a loose horse running behind him at the time.
"I thought he went really well," said LoPresti. "We broke a horse off about six lengths ahead of him and he caught him, went to the wire with him and galloped out real good.
"He got a really good blow out of it, so that told me I was probably a couple breezes short of the Fourstardave. Maybe we could have won it, but I think we did the right thing by giving him a little more time."
Wise Dan, a two-time winner of the Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) and the winner of six Eclipse Awards for a career that has included 10 grade I wins, has worked four times at Saratoga this season—twice on the turf training track at the Oklahoma oval, and twice over the dirt. According to LoPresti, the six-furlong team drill was the most rigorous work the gelding has logged since undergoing colic surgery.
"We worked him pretty hard today," said LoPresti. "He's had two five-eighths (of a mile breezes) and two halfs (since the colic surgery). I pressed on him today because he needed that kind of work. If he's going to start getting ready for some of these races I want to see how he comes out of this. He's not tired, I can tell you that."
Blood-Horse Staff: Wise Dan Works on Dirt, Options Expanded
Although LoPresti has mentioned a potential start going 1 1/8 miles on dirt in the Aug. 30 Woodward Stakes (gr. I) for Wise Dan, and has also thought about waiting until the Sept. 14 Ricoh Woodbine Mile (gr. IT), it is widely assumed by those who follow his training patterns that the Bernard Baruch would be the more likely spot for the gelding's return.
"The only way I'm going to know (which spot to go in) is in a few weeks time when I see how he progresses," said LoPresti. "If he's doing really well, why would I wait six weeks to go to Woodbine when I can run him in four weeks here? Money doesn't matter with a horse like him now."
Wise Dan, with 21 wins and two seconds from 29 starts, has earnings of $6,802,920 .