11/26/2011 2:08PM

Churchill Downs: Wise Dan to rest up for 2012 campaign

Reed Palmer Photography, Churchill Downs
Wise Dan wins the Grade 1 Clark Friday at Churchill Downs under John Velazquez.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Wise Dan came out of his smashing victory in the Clark Handicap in good shape and will remain in Kentucky through the winter, getting a brief vacation before gearing back up for a 5-year-old campaign, trainer Charlie Lopresti said Saturday morning.

Wise Dan, bred and owned by Morton Fink, earned a 105 Beyer Speed Figure with his 3 3/4-length triumph Friday in the Clark, a Grade 1 race that was the fourth stakes win from the last five starts for the gelding.

Lopresti said Wise Dan had an easy morning after the race, walking the shed row at his Keeneland barn and being taken out to graze. Lopresti was as awed as everyone else by the way Wise Dan, with John Velazquez aboard, crushed the opposition as the 9-2 co-second choice in the 1 1/8-mile Clark, which shaped up on paper as a very contentious event.

“He just loves to run,” Lopresti said afterward.

Lopresti clearly will have a world of options next spring when Wise Dan returns. The gelding demonstrated extraordinary versatility through the second half of 2011 in winning the Grade 2 Firecracker on the Churchill turf, the Presque Isle Mile and the Grade 3 Fayette at Keeneland on synthetic tracks, and now the Clark on dirt.

Lopresti, who stays put in Lexington, Ky., during the winter, also will have Turallure, a turf standout beaten just a nose in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, and Successful Dan, disqualified from first in the 2010 Clark, as major players in the handicap ranks next year. Successful Dan sustained a tendon injury early this year and is now unraced in more than a year but has made a steady recovery, said Lopresti.

Meanwhile, trainer Scooter Dickey conceded Saturday morning that yet another disappointing race for his stable star, Flat Out, likely cost the 5-year-old horse any chance for an Eclipse Award in the older-horse division. Flat Out was third, beaten 6 1/2 lengths, as the 2-1 favorite in the Clark, keeping him winless in four career tries at Churchill.

The Eclipse “is probably gone,” said Dickey. “But that’s okay. We’ve got a good, sound horse, and we’ll have him ready to roll as a 6-year-old.”

Dickey will be based at Gulfstream Park with a small string of runners this winter. Likewise, Mission Impazible, second in the Clark, will winter in south Florida at the Palm Meadows training center with Todd Pletcher.

Filly wins second time out

There were a number of impressive performances by maidens at the 21-day fall Churchill meet that was set to close Sunday, but those invariably were from 2-year-olds. One that wasn’t: the Friday triumph by Puddy Tap, a gray 3-year-old Tapit filly who prevailed comfortably in a seven-furlong race as a 2-5 favorite making her second career start.

“It took us a while to get her to the races because of a couple minor issues,” said trainer Steve Margolis. “She had this shoulder thing that was kind of weird but ended up going away. She really acts like she’ll run a long way, so we’ll try to stretch her out down at the Fair Grounds in a ‘one-other-than,’ probably before the end of the year. Hopefully she’ll just keep going from there.”

Puddy Tap, bred and owned by Robert and Lawana Low, earned a 76 Beyer Figure with her 1 3/4-length score.