Morton Fink's two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan worked five furlongs in 1:02.04 on the Saratoga Race Course main track Aug. 2, as trainer Charlie LoPresti continues to weigh his options for a comeback race.
Wise Dan, who is back in training after May 16 colic surgery, began his work at 8:54 a.m. EDT under exercise rider Damien Rock and easily went around with no urging. LoPresti said New York Racing Association clockers texted him fractional times of :25 2/5 for the first quarter mile and three-eighths in :37 2/5. They caught Wise Dan galloping out six furlongs in 1:15 2/5.
Wise Dan worked two prior times this summer at Saratoga, a four-furlong breeze in :49.12 July 19 over the Oklahoma turf training course, and a five-furlong effort in 1:03.72 July 25, also on the grass.
LoPresti was not happy with the second turf breeze, saying the 7-year-old gelding "slipped out" at one spot on the course and came back breathing a little hard. He chose the dirt for Saturday's work.
"I was very, very pleased with what I saw this morning," LoPresti said afterward at the barn. "He handled it really good, better than last week. Damien said he was in hand the whole way, and he was talking him out of it the whole way. That's the kind of work I was looking for this week. I want to see him back to where he used to be, and now he's coming the right way."
After the turf work July 25, LoPresti decided to bypass the Fourstardave (gr. IIT) Aug. 9, a race Wise Dan has won the two previous years. He told Blood-Horse July 31 that he is considering at the $250,000 Bernard Baruch (gr. IIT), a 1 1/16-mile grass race, and now has the $600,000 Woodward (gr. I) at 1 1/8 miles on the dirt under consideration. Both races are Aug. 30.
"I've got two options," LoPresti said Saturday. "If he keeps going the right way, he'll either run in the Baruch or the Woodward, and I like what I saw today on the dirt. I wouldn't rule (the Woodward) out."
LoPresti will consider a run in the Sept. 14 Ricoh Woodbine Mile (Can-IT), a race Wise Dan has won the past two years. The trainer also has mentioned the Shadwell Turf Mile (gr. IT) Oct. 4 at Keeneland, which Wise Dan captured in 2012 and finished second in last year.
"There's plenty of time (to decide)," LoPresti said. "This (strong work) is going to give me a breather. I don't know what the general consensus over there was with the handicappers and the Racing Form guys, but that was an awesome work."
Wise Dan, a two-time winner of the Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) and the winner of 10 grade I stakes, has raced twice this year—repeat wins in the April 11 Maker's 46 Mile (gr. IT) at Keeneland and in the May 3 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (gr. IT) at Churchill Downs.