Wise Dan found a narrow seam up the rail and took it straight to a five-length victory in the $500,000 Fourstardave Handicap (gr. IIT) at Saratoga Race Course, dominating Aug. 11 for his second win in three starts this year (VIDEO) .
The 5-year-old Kentucky homebred son of Wiseman's Ferry-Lisa Danielle, by Wolf Power, was making just his third run on the turf from 17 career starts for Morton Fink and trainer Charlie Lopresti. He covered a mile over the yielding inner turf course under jockey John Velazquez in 1:37.30 and earned $300,000 to boost his career earnings to $1,394,418.
"I guess the soft turf didn't bother him," a relieved Lopresti said. "It's always a concern... he's never run on soft turf like that. When I saw him down on the inside, backing up a little bit, I thought, 'Oh, boy.' But Johnny said he had so much horse he could have pulled the trigger any time. He's really confident in the horse. He's done a great job with him. It worked out great."
Get Stormy set a moderate early pace of :23.88 for the quarter and :48.64 for the half, and was still a length in front after three-quarters in 1:13.32. But Wise Dan was biding his time from a pocket trip, idled behind the leader while waiting for racing room, and found it after turning for home when Get Stormy drifted out slightly to provide an opening near the eighth pole.
Wise Dan took over in a couple of jumps, shooting up the inside and then drawing off impressively under an easy hand ride. Sent off as the 3-5 favorite, he paid $5, $3.30, and $2.40. Corporate Jungle made a big move mid-stretch to get the place, returning $4 and $2.90, while Get Stormy paid $3 to show. Guys Reward, Upgrade, Yield Bogey, and Surfrider completed the order of finish. Data Link and Right One scratched as did Crossbow, who was entered for the main track only.
"I think he's incredible," said Velazquez, who won his eighth edition of the Fourstardave, a race named after a horse trained by his father-in-law, Leo O'Brien. "For him to [win] on dirt, Polytrack, and grass—soft turf—I am very impressed with him. I guess he handled it today. He has done everything so well. Whatever Mr. Lopresti decides to do with him, I am going with him. This horse is doing incredible. I was not surprised with the way he ran in the stretch. He was going so well. As soon as I let his head go, he responded really well and took off."
The Fourstardave was a 10th career win for the chestnut gelding; his most recent score was the April 22 Ben Ali Stakes (gr. III) on the Polytrack at Keeneland, where he romped by 10 1/2 lengths. Last out he was runner-up to Ron the Greek in the June 16 Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) at Churchill Downs.
"He ran a great race in the Stephen Foster; just got beat a head, no disgrace," Lopresti said. "I think if he can win a grade I on the dirt, people will start to recognize this horse as one of the top horses on the East coast. Not too many horses can win on synthetic, grass, and a grade I on the dirt."
With that goal in mind, Lopresti said a start in the Sept. 3 Woodward (gr. I) at Saratoga could be possible, although the Sept. 16 Woodbine Mile (gr. IT) is also an option on the turf.