09/09/2013 1:53PM

Breeders' Cup Mile: Wise Dan doesn't scare top-flight Europeans

Barbara D. Livingston
Defending BC Mile winner Wise Dan could have his hands full, with a strong European contingent expected to ship to Santa Anita.

If there is a horse in North America that can keep Wise Dan from winning his second straight Breeders’ Cup Mile, that horse has yet to reveal himself. Obviously, California’s best, has won all his one-mile races this season, but even on his home turf he was no match for Wise Dan in the 2012 BC Mile.

Wise Dan has at least one and perhaps two starts before he returns to defend his Mile title, and barring the unexpected, any serious competition he might face will come from across the Atlantic Ocean. One trainer who evidently views Wise Dan as less than invincible is England-based Richard Hannon. Hannon has at least two elite-class milers in his large stable this year, and both Toronado and Olympic Glory are on course for a possible trip to Santa Anita, the stable announced this week.

Toronado, whose big 2013 win came in the Group 1 Sussex Stakes, might race next in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on Oct. 19 at Ascot. He finished a disappointing sixth last out in the Aug. 21 Juddmonte International and subsequently underwent minor surgery to correct a breathing problem.

Olympic Glory has been regarded as Toronado’s inferior, but might not be. After a disappointing performance in the French 2000 Guineas, Olympic Glory rebounded to finish second by a nose in the Group 1 Prix Jacque Le Marois last month at Deauville in France, a race he might have won with better luck. He and stablemate Havana Gold both are scheduled to start Sept. 15 in the Prix du Moulin de Longchamp.

Also still under consideration for the Mile is the Marois winner Moonlight Cloud. The Freddie Head-trained mare bred and owned by George Strawbridge could only finish eighth of nine in the 2012 BC Mile, but Head said this week that Moonlight Cloud could be considered for a return trip to Santa Anita if she performs well Oct. 6 in the Prix de la Foret.

As for Wise Dan, he swings back into action this weekend in the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile trying to run his 2013 record to a perfect 5-5. Wise Dan either will go from there straight to the BC Mile or race once more, on Oct. 5 in the Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland.