You might say trainer Charles Lopresti is hot right now. From a 16-horse stable that is based at Keeneland, Lopresti will be starting two Breeders’ Cup horses Saturday, Nov. 6, a feat not lost on the New York native.
“Everything is going good right now,” he said outside Barn 36 on the Churchill Downs backside. “You pinch yourself wondering when it’s gonna end, but we’ve got some really good horses right now, I have a great crew, and it seems like everything is working. I hope it carries over. I know it can’t go on forever, but I hope it doesn’t end here.”
Lopresti will saddle Wise Dan in the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I) and Here Comes Ben in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I). He is coming off a Keeneland meeting that defied logic. Lopresti won with six of his 10 starts in the recently concluded fall stand in Lexington.
The Kings Point, N.Y., native worked with show horses and hunter/jumpers in his youth, then went to the racetrack at Belmont Park and worked for trainer Joe Cantey. In the late 1970s he journeyed to Kentucky to get involved in breaking and raising young horses, and has remained in the Bluegrass since. Any hint of a New York accent has long since been replaced by a Southern twang.
Lopresti gets young horses ready at his Lexington-area farm, and Brandon and Marianne Chase, the owners of Here Comes Ben, are longtime clients. Lopresti started their Irgun on his farm, and also raised their Albertus Maximus , who won the 2008 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Santa Anita. The Chases are film producers.
Here Comes Ben is a logical contender in the Dirt Mile. The son of Street Cry has won three of his five starts at Churchill with a second and a third. Lopresti has run him four times this year, all at seven furlongs, and has gotten four victories. The one-turn mile seems right up his alley.
“He’s done everything right this year,” noted Lopresti. “Ben was a good horse last year, but we gave him the winter off and let him mature, and the light clicked on. I think he’s matured mentally more than anything, and he’s found his niche in the 7/8s, so the one-turn deal is right for him. He’s not a true six-furlong sprinter. He broke his maiden at Churchill going a mile, he’s won two races here this year at seven furlongs and was running at the end, so this should work out for him.”
Wise Dan has also shown an affinity for Louisville. He won an allowance/optional claiming contest on this year’s Kentucky Derby undercard, scoring by better than three lengths. After a five-month break, he came back at Keeneland last month and took the Phoenix Stakes (gr. III) by a half length. The son of Wiseman’s Ferry races as a homebred for Chicagoan Morton Fink.
In the Dirt Mile, Lopresti will be butting up against Hall of Fame trainers such as Richard Mandella, who sends out Crown of Thorns, and Nick Zito, who has Cool Coal Man and Morning Line. But Lopresti has the hot hand, and might just continue to sizzle on Saturday.