09/16/2013 5:33PM

Breeders' Cup Mile: Wise Dan towers over other contenders

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Michael Burns
Wise Dan became the first two-time winner of the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile on Sunday, prevailing by 3 1/2 lengths under John Velazquez.

Wise Dan left no doubt in Sunday’s Woodbine Mile that he will be an absolute tiger when he makes a bid to win his second straight Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita on Nov. 2. The only question now is whether he will train up to the race or make one more pre-BC start in the Shadwell Turf Mile on Oct. 5 at Keeneland.

Trainer Charlie Lopresti said Monday that Wise Dan would tell him whether to race again or merely work. But Wise Dan will be based at Keeneland until he ships to Santa Anita, and racing in the Shadwell simply means walking out of his stall and over to the racetrack. Moreover, it will be surprising if Wise Dan doesn’t come out of his Woodbine Mile win itching to do more before long than merely train.

Though Wise Dan ran a faster mile at Woodbine than any horse before him, his rider, John Velazquez, barely moved his hands during the stretch run, and Wise Dan appeared to be out for little more than an exceedingly fast gallop.

Truth is, Lopresti has several times left open the possibility of passing potential starts with Wise Dan – he even did so after the Fourstardave at Saratoga and before the Woodbine Mile – and Wise Dan always has told his trainer he wants to race. From the outside, and barring the unforeseen, it seems more likely than not that Wise Dan will line up for one more start before he takes his talents back to the West Coast.

The Woodbine Mile was one of two races this past weekend with possible BC Mile implications; the other was the Group 1 Prix du Moulin on Sunday at Longchamp, where the turf was soft and slow-playing, a stark contrast to the typical state of the Santa Anita course in early November.

[BREEDERS’ CUP 2013: See DRF’s top contenders]

The 5-year-old Maxios scored a mild upset when he won by five lengths, tracking a rabbit for the filly Flotilla (the 2012 BC Juvenile Fillies’ Turf winner who never fired Sunday) and taking command at the top of the stretch. Alan Cooper, the racing manager for the owning Niarchos family, mentioned the BC Mile as one of several potential races for Maxios this fall. Maxios has class, but not Wise Dan-class, and his best form comes on turf softer than he likely would find at Santa Anita.

The connections of Moulin runner-up Olympic Glory also have voiced BC Mile interest, but Olympic Glory had to be put to a heavy drive to barely finish a well-beaten second Sunday, and it was noteworthy to learn that jockey Frankie Dettori had in part pinned Olympic Glory’s subpar performance on his inability to turn adequately. If the talented 3-year-old cannot handle the mild bend at Longchamp, he would be in deep trouble trying to corner on the tighter Santa Anita course.