04/29/2013 12:40PM

Churchill Downs notes: Wise Dan to go in Woodford Reserve

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Coady Photography/Keeneland
Wise Dan (inside), the 2012 Horse of the Year, is scheduled to make his second start of 2013 on Saturday in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Trainer Charlie LoPresti all but confirmed a Kentucky Derby Day appearance by the reigning Horse of the Year early Monday from Keeneland, saying that “unless something unforeseen happens,” Wise Dan will run Saturday in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic.

“It’s sure looking like it,” LoPresti said. “Obviously, we’ll monitor everything up to race day, but he is really sharp right now. If things stay the same, we’ll run. All systems are go.”

The addition of Wise Dan would make the $500,000 Woodford Reserve an extraordinary lead in to the Derby, since the 1 1/8-mile race already had the turf standout Point of Entry as its star attraction.

John Velazquez, who has been the regular rider for Wise Dan, already has committed to Point of Entry for longtime client Shug McGaughey. LoPresti said he is calling again on Jose Lezcano, who rode the 6-year-old Wise Dan to victory in his 2013 debut in the April 12 Maker’s 46 Mile at Keeneland. Velazquez was recovering from injury when Lezcano subbed for him in the Maker’s 46 Mile.

A handful of other older horses is expected for the Woodford Reserve, including Jeranimo, Optimizer, Silver Max, and Slim Shadey.

The Woodford is the middle leg in the two-day pick three offered by Churchill Downs that starts with the Kentucky Oaks on Friday and ends with the Derby on Saturday. Last year, handle on the Oaks-Woodford-Derby pick three was $642,736.

Abstraction may go in Preakness

Trainer David Carroll said Monday at Churchill that no decision will be made until after the Derby about the Preakness status of Abstraction, the Pulpit colt who was impressive Saturday in winning the Tesio Stakes at Pimlico as an odds-on favorite.

Abstraction, owned by the My Meadowview Farm of Len Riggio, would have to be supplemented to the Triple Crown for a $100,000 late fee to become eligible for the May 18 Preakness.

Attendance down on opening night

Saturday’s opening-night attendance of 21,038 was met with satisfaction by Churchill officials, considering how cold and rainy the weather was. As usual, much of the crowd was comprised of young locals who took keen interest in the social aspect of the event.

This was the third year that Churchill has opened the spring meet under the lights. Attendance was 38,142 in 2011 and 26,527 last year. The track will host three more Downs After Dark programs June 15, 22, and 29.