Pleuven winning the Opening Verse

Pleuven winning the Opening Verse

Coady Photography

Pleuven Looks for Repeat in Wise Dan

Gelding captured the race one year ago to earn first graded stakes win.

There is nothing complicated when it comes to both handling graded stakes winner Pleuven or assessing his talents. He's an easy keeper around the barn and honest sort once the gates spring open.

Trainer Phil Sims would just as soon have the 6-year-old Turtle Bowl gelding keep things simple June 17 by duplicating his effort in the $200,000 Wise Dan Stakes (G2T) at Churchill Downs that earned him the victory in the 1 1/16-mile test one year ago.

When Pleuven bested the likes of grade 1 winner The Pizza Man and millionaire Za Approval last June to earn his first graded score in the Wise Dan, it marked just his third start for Sims, as he was previously conditioned by Chad Brown after coming over from France. The dark bay gelding has more than earned his keep, with placings in seven of his last nine starts, and he was only beaten 2 1/4 lengths when sixth behind Miss Temple City in the Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes (G1T) at Keeneland last October.

LAMARRA: Improving Pleuven Scores Upset in Wise Dan

Though he started his year off with a third-place finish in what was technically an allowance test at Keeneland April 9, the group he was in against was a salty as any graded contest, with grade 1 winner Divisidero and fellow Wise Dan entrant Thatcher Street in the field. Last month, Pleuven affirmed his affinity for the Churchill Downs course when he used his stalking style to take the one-mile Opening Verse Stakes by 2 1/2 lengths May 4.

"He kind of gets himself into the race and has a good stalking position, so he never gets himself shuffled too far back," Sims said. "He's just a neat, tough little horse. He's really easy to work with and he just loves to compete. He's run against some really top turf horses in the country and run right with them. 

"He'll show up. He'll try hard. We just need a little racing luck with a horse like him. We're hoping for a big effort Saturday."

Owned by Nelson McMakin, Pleuven has not finished worse than second in four tries over the Churchill turf and has seven wins from 18 starts overall with $365,672 in earnings.

Thatcher Street, third in the Opening Verse last time out, got the best of Pleuven when he won the River City Handicap (G3T) in  November and is part of a two-fisted entry for trainer Ian Wilkes, along with stablemate Bondurant. The latter is a half brother to multiple graded stakes winner McCraken—who is set to run Saturday in the Matt Winn Stakes (G3)— and was most recently second to Chocolate Ride in a 1 1/16-miles allowance race at Churchill May 18.

Entries: Wise Dan S. (G2T)

Churchill Downs, Saturday, June 17, 2017, Race 6

  • Grade IIT
  • 1 1/16m
  • Turf
  • $200,000
  • 3 yo's & up
  • 8:35 PM (local)
11Security Risk (KY)John R. Velazquez121Claude R. McGaughey III5/1
22Bondurant (KY)Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr.121Ian R. Wilkes8/1
33Thatcher Street (KY)Julien R. Leparoux121Ian R. Wilkes4/1
44Chocolate Ride (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateShaun Bridgmohan121Brad H. Cox5/1
55Kasaqui (ARG)James Graham121Ignacio Correas, IV6/1
66Conquest Panthera (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateRobby Albarado121Mark E. Casse6/1
77Pleuven (FR)Corey J. Lanerie121Philip A. Sims3/1
88Blofeld (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateJoel Rosario121George R. Arnold, II10/1