Updated on 05/04/2012 4:00PM

Churchill Downs: Successful Dan takes fifth straight in record-breaking Alysheba victory

Tom Keyser
Successful Dan (left), under Julien Leparoux, sets a track record for 1 1/16 miles in winning the Alysheba.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -  Forget about keeping up with the Joneses. This year, in the handicap division of Thoroughbred racing, it might be all about keeping up with the Dans.

Twelve days after Wise Dan set a Keeneland track record for 1 1/8 miles winning the Ben Ali Stakes, his 6-year-old half-brother Successful Dan set a Churchill Downs track record winning the Grade 2, $337,800 Alysheba Stakes by one length over Fort Larned.

Successful Dan ran 1 1-16 miles in 1:41.04, eclipsing the track record of 1:41.27 set by Brass Hat on July 8, 2007. He returned $10.20 to win.

 “I’m the luckiest trainer in the world to have two of these horses - he and Wise Dan,” trainer Chuck Lopresti said. “I tell ya, they’re awesome. This horse he showed so much heart, it’s just unbelievable.”

Successful Dan, owned by Morton Fink, was making just his second start since returning from a suspensory injury that sidelined him 18 months. Successful Dan had come out of the 2010 Clark Handicap - a race in which he was disqualified from first and placed third - with that injury. He came back at Keeneland in an April 6 allowance race, that he won by one length.

Friday, the competition got much stiffer with the likes of Mucho Macho Man and the improving Fort Larned in the field.

Under Julien Leparoux, Successful Dan settled into sixth position as Plutonium set fractions of 23.47 seconds for a quarter and 47.02 for a half-mile.

Fort Larned took over from Plutonium around the far turn and Mucho Macho Man set sail after him. Leparoux had Successful Dan follow Mucho Macho Man and he moved into second inside the eighth pole.

Successful Dan collared a stubborn Fort Larned with about 30 yards remaining to get the victory.

 “I knew he was going to run big. I’d been disappointed if he didn’t run in the first three the way this horse trained,” Lopresti said. “I just pray he comes back good and everything’s good, that’s the most important thing.”

 Lopresti said that he would keep the Dans apart, likely running Wise Dan in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster here on June 16 and possibly waiting until Saratoga to run Successful Dan.

 Mucho Macho Man looked poised to make a run in the stretch, but couldn’t keep up with Successful Dan and had a three-race winning streak snapped. He finished third, beaten seven lengths.

 “Turning for home, I felt like he was really starting to get in gear where I thought he was going to finish up even better,” Dominguez said. “Then again, those other two horses ran pretty fast so I can’t take anything away from them.”

 Ian Wilkes, the trainer of Fort Larned, said his horse might have been used a little bit more early than he would have preferred, but that didn’t think that cost him the race.

“I’m not taking anything away from Successful Dan but we probably had to use our horse a little bit more to hold our position form the post we were,” Wilkes said. “We just broke a half-step slow so we didn’t get trapped back. Our horse ran an unbelievable race.”