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Churchill Downs: Wise Dan could pass Firecracker after getting 128 pounds
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Wise Dan has been assigned 128 pounds for the Grade 2 Firecracker Handicap at Churchill Downs, a heavy impost that Churchill racing secretary Ben Huffman evidently believes is commensurate with the gelding’s status as the reigning Horse of the Year in North America.
Charlie LoPresti, who trains Wise Dan for owner Morton Fink, said the assignment was not altogether unexpected, but that he and Fink would have to discuss it before committing the 6-year-old homebred to the Firecracker.
“I’m not saying we shouldn’t have to carry some weight, but 128 is outside the realm, as far as I’m concerned,” LoPresti said shortly after the weights were released Saturday.
The $175,000 Firecracker is set for next Saturday night, June 29, at one mile on the turf. Entries will be taken Wednesday. LoPresti said if he decides to skip the Firecracker that he likely would wait for the Aug. 10 Fourstardave on the Saratoga turf.
“The problem is Churchill can’t get the race to fill if we’re in with what the other horsemen think is not enough weight,” said LoPresti. “This early in the year, especially, I think it asks too much of us. I’m going to have to have a long talk about it with Mr. Fink.”
In the meantime, Wise Dan breezed a half-mile Saturday morning at his Keeneland base, going in 46.20 seconds over Polytrack.
“I didn’t want to work him too close in to the race in case we run,” said LoPresti. “He’s fine. He’s great. We’re ready to run if that’s what we decide to do.”
In all, 58 3-year-olds and upward are nominated to the Firecracker. Huffman said earlier in the week that he believed the weight issue likely would ultimately determine which of the others will enter.
Swift debut winner for Casse
Conquest Two Step earned an 81 Beyer Speed Figure in winning his career debut Friday at Churchill, a 5 1/2-furlong race completed in 1:03.63.
Mark Casse trains Conquest Two Step, a 2-year-old colt by the first-crop sire Two Step Salsa, for the Conquest Stable of Ernie Semersky and Dory Newell. The winner was the first for the sire.
Conquest Two Step, a $420,000 purchase at Ocala in April, returned $4 as a poorly kept “good thing” and was one of seven winning favorites on an 11-race Friday card. Remarkably, the other four winners returned at least $51 on a true “feast or famine” afternoon for horseplayers.
Stevens the younger ready to start going
The career training debut of Tory “T.C.” Stevens could come as early as Saturday at Churchill. Stevens, the 28-year-old son of Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens, has two horses in training at the Trackside training center.
The younger Stevens has been on crutches in recent weeks after suffering a broken femur when he was struck by a horse. His racing background includes working for Ashford Stud, a division of Coolmore, and as an assistant to his father during the elder Stevens’s absence from the saddle during a brief training career.
◗ Dullahan had his second workout since returning from a post-Dubai freshening when breezing five furlongs Saturday morning in 59.60 seconds over a fast Churchill track. Trainer Dale Romans said he is keeping his options open with the 4-year-old colt.
these wise dan haters crack me up. they say he isnt good enough for HOTY. he is the top ranked horse in the world right now. the last american horse to do that was 2 time HOTY curlin.
That's it Charlie...run and hide from GR3 horses because you have to carry 128pds. HOTY my @SS!.
Hey Charlie Lopresti, Show some stones, ship Wise Dan to Hollywood Park for the Shoemaker Mile. It's a Grade 1 & you are trying again for Horse of the Year. This makes a lot of sense.
Obviously he's running. This is all mere posturing and chestpounding. I don't understand why people get so riled up. It's still fairly early in the season for this year's horse of the year voting. If one were to ever take a dive, this would be it. After three dominating performances in a seven-week span winning the Woodbine, Shadwell and BC Mile, no one would remember the Firecracker flop, which were to be blamed on the weight assignments anyway.
It's the spread in weights that is a factor, not so much the actual weight. However, As a horse continues to win, the weight he is forced to carry increases (depending on the competition).If he is a G1 winner running against G2 or G3 horses he should in a handicap race carry more weight.
I hope that Charlie and Mr. Fink find another race for Wise Dan!! And tell CD to screw them selfs .. Lot's of other tracks would love to have Wise Dan at there track!! Do the best thing for Wise Dan! I know you will! Win Win Win Wise Dan!!!!
I would run Wise Dan myself in the United Nations (Grade 1) at Monmouth the following week going 1 3/8 Miles. Get him out of his "comfort zone" and run a meaningful HOY campaign.
I'm sick of handicaps in remaining stakes races even though I'm glad to see that some former handicap races are no longer handicaps. Yes it was really cool when Forego won under 137 pounds but times change. What other sport puts an entrant at a disadvantage? Should Manchester United players have to wear leg weights b/c they won the Premiership? Stakes races, especially Grade I (which the Firecracker is not) should all become even weights - no gender or age allowance. These are championship races and the goal is to see who is best. If a filly wins the Derby by less than a length carrying 121 pounds, she probably was not best.
zenyatta carried 129lbs in the 2009 vanity, spotting her rivals 13-18lbs (and was the first mare to win under that weight in the vanity since 1977). she carried 129 lbs in the 2010 vanity spotting the next highest weighted horse 9lbs. she carried 127 lbs in the 2010 santa margarita spotting her rivals 11-16 lbs...
Ha - I Kelso, laugh at 128 pounds. I carry 136 for 2 miles and then warm the other horses the next morning and take the kids for a ride in the afternoon. Come on, show us Wise Dan is the real thing.