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Churchill Downs: Wise Dan likely to face six in 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.
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.
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.
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.
He is a gelding. Everyone knows the money is in breeding. Go win as many races as possible and get those earnings.
Another sure shot with no competition. KInda like Royal Delta and Dreaming of Julia. Beware!
2.80 - 2.20 - 2.10. Fun racing
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 !
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.