06/26/2013 3:23PM

Churchill Downs: Wise Dan likely to face six in Firecracker Handicap

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Michael Amoruso
Wise Dan, the 2012 Horse of the Year, will carry the high weight of 128 pounds in Saturday's Grade 2 Firecracker Handicap.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Wise Dan is scheduled to face seven other older horses Saturday night on the Churchill Downs turf when breaking from post 2 in the Grade 2, $175,000 Firecracker Handicap, but there’s a good chance at least one of those will scratch.

Trainer Tom Proctor entered Corporate Jungle in the Firecracker but said Wednesday it was only in case Wise Dan doesn’t actually make it to the starting gate.

“I don’t want to run against him, but if something happens between now and then, we wanted to be in there,” said Proctor, who trains Corporate Jungle for Gary and Mary West.

Wise Dan, with John Velazquez back to ride, will carry high weight of 128 pounds in the one-mile Firecracker while spotting the opposition 11 to 15 pounds. If Corporate Jungle, who was assigned post 1, does scratch, then Wise Dan would start nearest the rail.

Much has been made not only about the weight assignments but about Wise Dan, the 2012 Horse of the Year, running in something other than a Grade 1 race for the first time since he won the Grade 2 Fourstardave last August at Saratoga. Corporate Jungle, trained at the time by Chad Brown, was a distant second in that race while getting 3 pounds. He is assigned 117 for the Firecracker.

“I know Ben’s in a very tough spot,” said Proctor, referring to Churchill racing secretary Ben Huffman. “All I can say is that as of right now, I don’t plan to run. We’ll just wait for the [July 24] Wickerr at old Del Mar.”

From the hedge, and with weights and jockeys, this is the Firecracker field: Corporate Jungle, 117, Alan Garcia; Wise Dan, 128, Velazquez; Dimension, 113, Victor Lebron; Lea, 117, Brian Hernandez Jr.; Finnegan’s Wake, 116, Jesus Castanon; Daddy Nose Best, 116, Rosie Napravnik; Seruni, 115, Corey Lanerie; and Ol Army, 114, Jon Court.

Wise Dan was ridden by Jose Lezcano in both of his races this year while Velazquez was unavailable. Velazquez was sidelined by injury when Wise Dan won the Maker’s 46 Mile at Keeneland in April. For the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic on May 4, Velazquez already had committed to Point of Entry before trainer Charlie LoPresti confirmed Wise Dan as a starter. Point of Entry wound up being a late scratch from the Woodford because of wet conditions.

Velazquez is named on four other mounts on an 11-race card, including Hollywood Talent for trainer Wesley Ward in the supporting feature, the Grade 3 Bashford Manor Stakes.

The Firecracker anchors the final Downs After Dark program of the spring meet. First post is 6 p.m. Eastern, with the Firecracker, the ninth of 11 races, set for 10:11. HRTV will have live coverage.

Sunday (12:45 post) is closing day of the 38-day meet.

Seven 2-year-olds are entered the $100,000 Bashford Manor (race 7, 9:05), led by the uncoupled Steve Asmussen pair of Gunroar and D’cajun Cat. From the rail, the field for the six-furlong race is Gunroar, My Corinthian, Hollywood Talent, Debt Ceiling, Runkle, D’cajun Cat, and Sandbar.

Also on the Saturday card is the $65,000 Kelly’s Landing (race 3, 6:56), an overnight stakes at seven furlongs. Laurie’s Rocket and Good Lord head a field of six.

◗ Aspiring jockey Ashley Broussard will ride her first race Friday when climbing aboard It’snotyouit’sme for trainer Randy Morse in the ninth race. Broussard, 20, has been preparing for her Thoroughbred debut since graduating high school two years ago. The native of Youngsville, La., was riding in barrel races at age 8. She will begin with a 10-pound apprentice allowance.

◗ Good Deed has been sidelined at an inopportune time after showing herself to be an outstanding turf sprinter. The 4-year-old filly will be out for an indefinite period after being diagnosed with inflammation in an ankle, according to trainer Steve Margolis. Bred and owned by Bert, Elaine, and Richard Klein, Good Deed earned a career-high 106 Beyer Speed Figure in winning a five-furlong turf allowance here June 7.

Samantha Lobdell More than 1 year ago
Given how many "sure things" seem to be losing lately, I'm surprised everyone's so terrified right now. I don't really have an opinion either way with this trainer, but if I had one of those horses and suddenly the trainer of the big overwhelming favorite got nervous and riled up a few days before the race, I'd take a chance.
prose More than 1 year ago
Stop speculating on which races this horse should or should not run in. He's 6 years old and I, personally, would like to see him around for another 2 or 3 years. His campaign is being handled judiciously, with the health of the horse in mind. If they were out to grab all the cash they can they would run him a lot more often. But they're not. People like BGolfer (see below) and the sentiments they express are part of what's wrong with this game. Insidious greed. "Get those earnings, get those earnings!" It makes me sick.
BGolfer More than 1 year ago
First, this is a business for horse owners. They are not involved in this sport to lose millions. My point was if Wise Dan could go to stud he almost certainly would have after winning HOY. Since he can't, the owners should look for spots to win, while keeping the best interests for Wise Dan in mind, which they have. They don't care if he is 1-9 and it is a bad betting race for the public and I know I wouldn't if I was the owner.
B More than 1 year ago
No, one of the things wrong with the game is today's horsemen's lack of sportsmanship with running their horses so infrequently. Good horses who run frequently and over a long period of time are good for the sport and help create fans. Ya know, like it used to be! Every sport needs its stars and it's hard to get excited about one that runs a whole 12 times over two years or some similar limited scenario. Of course, if our current breeding is producing horses so weak that they can only run 6 times per year, then the sport is doomed anyway.
Micahdog More than 1 year ago
Poor betting race with Wise Dan towering over this field. IF he wasn't in it I'd give Finnegan's Wake a shot going to 2nd race back with 22.1 final quarter and 7 lbs off but with expected scratch Corporate Jungle and Castanon probably being 1 lb overweight best to pass the race and not waste your money. Only other possibility at CD Saturday night is 6th # 1 Z Dager but only if you get a price. Box score tilt wrong way.
BGolfer More than 1 year ago
He is a gelding. Everyone knows the money is in breeding. Go win as many races as possible and get those earnings.
B More than 1 year ago
Another sure shot with no competition. KInda like Royal Delta and Dreaming of Julia. Beware!
Bob More than 1 year ago
2.80 - 2.20 - 2.10. Fun racing
Perl More than 1 year ago
Any race involving this star is "fun racing." Find a price in some other race, or try to beat him. Either way, stop whining.
Bob More than 1 year ago
Who is whining? You can't get 40% profit in a bank. Ill take it
Perl More than 1 year ago
ah gotcha. I'm guessing you'll get 20% though not 40.
John Stevelberg More than 1 year ago
JOHN HENRY took on all comers at weird weights on dirt, turf, slop, mud or the Jersey Turnpike. Wise Dan is being turned in to a "tippy-toe" competitor. Sad, Very, very sad !
Lawrence Macselwiney More than 1 year ago
I almost wish they had a mandatory 3 race schedule if you are the reigning horse of the year. Not counting Breeders Cup or injury. Three grade 1 events prior to the BC.
J.L. Boey More than 1 year ago
Wise Dan has already won two G1s this year, and will run in the G1 Woodbine Mile and G1 Shadwell Turf Mile before the BC Mile. Most Horses of The Year did not even start in a G1 race their first race back, Wise Dan did.
MT_Black More than 1 year ago
The 'WISE' is probably the best runner out right now. He is allowed to run where he wants and he likes to kick it in KY. Go get a piece if you want. Last time I checked they have some pretty good turf, dirt, and synthetic tracks in Ky., so any takers should get brave and step up. These horses are content to race for second and thats fine for WD. You gotta remember its a CAMPAIGN for Horse of the Year that CULMINATES at the Breeders Cup. You don't go traveling around looking for beef in July especially if you are the incumbent candidate. He is an older horse, racing regularly, carrying weight... what more do you want? You gotta play out the regular season before you win the Superbowl, sometimes that includes a few cupcakes along the way.
Lawrence Macselwiney More than 1 year ago
I disagree to a point. If that honor of HOTY is bestowed upon you, I feel as a fan you should defend it and not just in the BC. The BC is one race and if you beat cupcakes up till then its kind of just who is sharp in October. I don't mean wear him out, but he's the best turf horse in America. 2 or 3 Grade 1's in 9 months isn't too much to ask from the champ.
Perl More than 1 year ago
It's just one race. I don't love this spot either but he already has two G1s this year and he played a game of chicken with Point of Entry and who blinked? I'm going to reluctantly give his connections the benefit of the doubt and hope he finds some more challenging spots in the next few months.
Ann Ferland More than 1 year ago
What G1 turf miles are there east of the Rockies this time of the year? G1 turf 9fs that aren't for mares only? If Lopresti and the owner want to keep close to home, that is their decision. Obviously didn't come east for the Keeneland Spring Mile (it has had so many sponsors I can't keep up ) and Wise Dan isn't going west for for the Shoemaker Mile. The racing community doesn't set up the graded system to provide G1 races for each of the major specialties spaced throughout the year for each region - that would require a central authority, which we don't have. The grading system is reactive and doesn't look at the races in context.
Perl More than 1 year ago
because they know Obviously needs that rock hard west coast turf or he's in big trouble.
Dan C More than 1 year ago
I would like to see Fort Larned test Wise Dan on the turf.
Big Bob More than 1 year ago
Which race? prob best chance of them meeting would be in the Whitney
Perl More than 1 year ago
Ft Larned is not about to run on Turf when he can run in the top dirt handicaps for considerably more money. Best chance is for Wise Dan to try the Whitney, which sounds highly unlikely but not impossible.
Lawrence Macselwiney More than 1 year ago
I would rather see him face Obviously, Lucayan Prince and Jeranimo at Hollywood Park. Jeranimo is a whole different animal on that turf course and can beat anybody on any given day there. Obviously is better than anything Wise Dan is facing in the Firecracker. I understand picking the soft spots, but you are campaigning the freaking horse of the year. Fans deserve to see him run in the best possible races. No fans. No purse money.
Lawrence Macselwiney More than 1 year ago
Edit. Sorry. Lucayan not Lucayan Prince.
Ann Ferland More than 1 year ago
Ah, the winner Jersey S (G3-GB) at Royal Ascot back in 1996. He also placed in the G1 July Cup that year as a 3yo. Didn't really find a niche here in the States - no straight-course 5-7f sprints, I guess.
Matt More than 1 year ago
Amen!!...that is why this industry is going downhill fast.....yet there are still those in denial.....pull out the casino welfare checks and it's doubtful a couple of dozen racetrack would be open in a couple of years.....
Ann Ferland More than 1 year ago
So why weren't Obviously, et. al. at Churchill on Derby Day for the 9f turf G1 (I still think of it as the Early Times)? Airplanes go both ways over the mountains. If the West Coasters get to stay home, so can Dan.