06/22/2013 3:37PM

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.

jttf More than 1 year ago
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.
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
Didn't really see a Wise Dan hating post, and none saying he's not good enough for HOTY. Just that in a grade 2 he should shoulder the rather unimpressive 128 because he is that much better than the others.
Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
That's it Charlie...run and hide from GR3 horses because you have to carry 128pds. HOTY my @SS!.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
J.L. Boey More than 1 year ago
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.
John Smith More than 1 year ago
Cool.....Obviously is running against Wise Dan again. That should be a great rematch of last years BCM. Oh wait, i think i read that wrong. never mind!
Chuck Berger More than 1 year ago
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.
kimmons2 More than 1 year ago
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!!!!
W.G. More than 1 year ago
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.
J.L. Boey More than 1 year ago
You should definitely lobby EA Sports or the likes to come up with a horseracing game. Ask them to also include a cheat mode that milers with dazzling turn of foot would retain that ability going 11-12 furlongs. Hell, make it 20 furlongs so you could ship Wise Dan to Europe for the St. Legers and Arc double.
John Smith More than 1 year ago
Screw that, train him how to jump and he could enter the grand national at 2 1/2 miles.
Ann Ferland More than 1 year ago
Actually, the Grand National is over 4 miles in length. Were you thinking of the Ascot Gold Cup?
Earl Soames More than 1 year ago
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.
Mike R More than 1 year ago
I would venture to say if you were in the place that the connections of the horses that are demanding weight on Wise Dan you would feel the same as they do.
mikey More than 1 year ago
Yes times do change and what you got are inferior product with inferior thorougbreds.....and folks wonder why this industry is dying....what you should ask is how can an industry survive being subsidized by their competitor (casinos)....IT WON'T and COULDN'T....this industry has to stand on their own and if they CHANGE back to breeding great handicap thoroughbreds it will NOT survive....
mikey More than 1 year ago
Ann Ferland More than 1 year ago
When we honored horses who could win handicaps with high weights, we bred splendid horses. Discovery, perhaps the greatest handicap horse is US history, sired the dams of both Bold Ruler and Native Dancer, both of whom won big handicaps under high weights. At 3, Bold Ruler carried 130 lbs. in the Trenton H, gave weight to and defeated Round Table and Gallant Man. Weight-for-age races result in small fields, like when they changed most of the mares' races in CA to allowance stakes for Zenyatta's people. It is in the last 20 years when true handicap racing has been degraded that we have started to breed to the soft-boned, distance-limited sorts who make at big splash for a couple of races before going to the sidelines. 3yos are retired before they have to try handicaps, Many top trainers are afraid to lose, afraid to take risks, for fear it will ruin a horse's stud value.
kc m More than 1 year ago
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...
John Smith More than 1 year ago
Yea....thats why Mike Smith loved to ride her. He could go out the night before and have a huge steak dinner and a six-pack of Gunniess. Wait, make that a 5-pack. I forgot Zenyatta would always drink a Gunniess.
Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
As she beat nobody....She had a weight break of 3 pounds in the 2009 and 2010 Classic. She was 1 for 2 there vs better horses. How about a Filly who carried REAL weight like Ta wee?.....what a filly.
Rocky More than 1 year ago
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.
W.G. More than 1 year ago
Love that! ^^
Kimberly Shugars More than 1 year ago
That Kelso was a beast, not much to look at with his plain brown wrapper, but the freakin horse could run under whatever weight they threw on his back. I saw him run in Maryland when I was 5 or 6 yrs old. My grandfather took me to see him. After racing he went on to have quite a successful career as a hunter jumper. They dont make them like that anymore. What makes this even more astounding is the fact that his sire, Your Host, was basically a fragile boned horse (not unlike Ruffians sire Reviewer) who was very lucky to have lived (thanks to insurer Lloyds) after shattering his forleg and shoulder.
Ann Ferland More than 1 year ago
Your Host won 13 of 23 starts from 2 and a fraction years of racing; he clipped heels and FELL on his shoulder at the right angle to break it after 2 starts at 4. Not one of these Unbridled's Songs who breaks a bone when you look at it cross-eyed. Get your facts straight. Your Host also sired several other durable, good-class horses, like Windy Sands, who beat Kelso as a 2yo in NJ, then was a SW out West, placed in G1-type stakes (64 starts), and became a top local sire - G1-type winners like Crystal Water, June Darling, Eleven Stitches, Avigation, Sandy Blue, etc.
Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
Kelso, Dr.F, Ta Wee....REAL WEIGHT Carriers.