Wise Dan Doing Well After Season Debut
Trainer Charlie LoPresti reported Morton Fink's homebred son of Wiseman's Ferry was "doing fine this morning and ate up everything last night," adding what a relief it was to get the 7-year-old gelding's first start of 2014 out of the way. The champion had not raced since defending his title in the Nov. 2 Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) at Santa Anita Park, and his trainer was concerned coming into Friday's race with some lost training time due to severe winter weather.
"I am glad that is over," LoPresti said of the much anticipated race. "I had him maybe 80% and would have liked to have had a couple more breezes."
LoPresti put a final three-eighths move into Wise Dan April 8 in preparation for the Maker's 46, and credited the workout with giving his runner the bottom it took under Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez to hold off 37-1 shot Kaigun in the final sixteenth of a mile.
"Johnny told me (before the race), 'I wish you hadn't put that last three-eighths into him,' but I told him, 'That might be what gets you home!' Because I needed to put a little wind into him," the trainer said.
It marked a record sixth stakes score at Keeneland for Wise Dan, and the ninth grade I of his brilliant career. From here, he is expected to head to Churchill Downs to tackle the May 3 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (gr. IT), a race he won last year by 4 3/4 lengths on an extremely yielding course.
"If he comes out good and he's training well, we'll run there," LoPresti said. "I'd like to run him there because of what's going to happen here (removal of Polytrack beginning May 19); if I don't run him there, it might make it hard for me to get him ready (for the rest of the year) after they close the (Keeneland main) track."
Trainer Mark Casse said Kaigun will also head to the Woodford. The 4-year-old gelded son of Northern Afleet posted his best stakes result in his 10-race career for Quintessential Racing Florida, Horse'n Around Racing Stable, and Gary Barber.
"He is doing great this morning and I am very proud of him," Casse said. "He has turned into a good horse.
"The Woodford is the plan. That's the reason we ran here, to see if he belongs (with this company). If not, we would have gone in another direction."
Third-place Maker's finisher Lochte is scheduled to return to his South Florida base April 14 with Sabrina Simon and Wayne Barnett looking over the Marcus Vitali trainee until he leaves.
"I was thrilled with his race, really happy," Vitali said before starting his drive back to Miami. "We tried to beat the beast, but Wise Dan is a tough act to follow."
Vitali said it was too soon to cement plans for a next start for Lochte.
"I have two or three spots in mind," Vitali said, with options including the Woodford Reserve or the $400,000 Dixie Handicap (gr. II) at Pimlico Race Course May 17.
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