Updated on 08/13/2013 7:55AM

Fourstardave: Wise Dan wears down King Kreesa despite giving 12 pounds

Barbara D. Livingston
Wise Dan and jockey John Velazquez score a repeat win in the Fourstardave.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Trainer Jeremiah Englehart stood out on the racetrack and applauded Wise Dan as he was brought back to the winner’s circle following Saturday’s $500,000 Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga.

It was a classy gesture of respect, especially considering that it was his horse, King Kreesa, whom the reigning Horse of the Year had just beaten by 1 1/4 lengths to successfully defend his title in the Grade 2 Fourstardave.

Wise Dan not only won the Fourstardave for the second straight year, but he did it carrying 129 pounds, conceding 12 pounds apiece to King Kreesa and third-place finisher Lea. He also came within 0.58 seconds of the course record, completing a mile in 1:34.00 despite running over a surface softened by heavy rains the previous day and officially rated “good.”

Wise Dan benefitted from another picture-perfect ride by Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez. Rated early while saving ground just off the early pace of King Kreesa for six furlongs, Wise Dan eased out to commence his rally approaching the stretch, overtook the game leader inside the eighth pole, and gradually edged clear under a hand ride after Velazquez took one peek back to assure himself that the outcome was no longer in doubt.

King Kreesa set a moderate pace, posting splits of 24.24 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 47.48 for the half, and dug in bravely when engaged by the winner but proved no match while easily second-best.

Lea made a mild run three wide on the second bend but could not sustain the bid. He was followed by Mr. Commons, Willyconker, and Skyring. Za Approval was scratched.

Wise Dan, a 6-year-old gelded son of Wiseman’s Ferry owned and bred by Morton Fink and trained by Charlie LoPresti, paid $2.80 while remaining unbeaten in his last eight starts dating back to his victory in the 2012 Fourstardave.

“I was worried about the weight,” LoPresti said. “I know it’s only a pound more [than he carried in winning the Grade 2 Firecracker Handicap in his previous start], but I was worried about it. I never gave any thoughts to these weights earlier in the year, and then when we decided to run in the Firecracker, people started to talk about it.

“But to prove he’s a great horse, like everyone is talking about, he has to carry that weight. He has to prove it, and today I think he proved he’s a very good horse.”

LoPresti said he was worried about King Kreesa, especially after seeing the early fractions of the race.

“That horse didn’t go down easy,” LoPresti said. “That 24 and change worried me, and he’s a nice horse. He came into this race good and was the one I worried about the most. But when [Wise Dan] cruised up to him on equal terms, he went right by him, and I think Johnny just kind of rode him out.”

LoPresti said he’ll wait to see how much the race took out of Wise Dan and then discuss his options with the owner.

“Maybe Woodbine, maybe Keeneland, maybe both,” said LoPresti, referring to the Woodbine Mile and Shadwell Turf Mile. “We’ll just kind of see how it goes. I would say he’ll stay on the grass. We’ve got his big brother [Successful Dan]. He’s doing really well, and it would be really neat to have both of them in the Breeders’ Cup in two different races.”

As for Englehart, he was ecstatic with the performance of the New York-bred King Kreesa, even in defeat.

“I got beat by the Horse of the Year,” Englehart said. “My horse ran his eyeballs out. He dug in all the way when he came up alongside of him. I’m happy with that.”

DJ L More than 1 year ago
Congrats Jerry, Grandma might not get it, but she'd sure be proud! Sort of like when you had long hair & she told your dad, let Jerry be, if that's what the rest of his age are doing, you just let Jerry be :-) Jim, Deb, Kev
Matthew Ellis More than 1 year ago
Lot of respect for KIng Kreesa and they should feel great moving forward. Don't know if Grade 1 material but can have a good campaign and is a game racehorse when in FORM
flash gordon More than 1 year ago
King kreesa remind me of lure
[removed] More than 1 year ago
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Perl More than 1 year ago
You are scum of the earth.
Walter More than 1 year ago
Turf milers just really aren't that prevalent in the US. I guess it's nice to be the owner/trainer/jockey since its easy money each time he runs. Nice horse, but his campaign just isn't HOY caliber.
Tim More than 1 year ago
What is the Beyer figure for this crazy effort? 1:34 flat on Styrofoam? 120? 125?
Kevin Tucker More than 1 year ago
I will never understand people who criticize Wise Dan and his connections. Amazing horse.
Bryan Horn More than 1 year ago
JV! He ran this string of races last year. he is taking heat because normally, owners and trainers push their horses after beating the B and C "squadders" who populate 1 mile grass races; if not D runners. King Kreeesa? Come on now.
Big Jeff More than 1 year ago
Acxtually most owners of geldings try to make money while their horse are still on the track.
Perl More than 1 year ago
King Kresa would be 8-1 in the breeders cup Mile if they ran it in a month. He is 4 and improving with every start. It was 5 lengths back to third place. Learn the game.
Andy Aaron More than 1 year ago
tip of the hat to the kreesas and jeremiah englehart! what a training job: could have had this one for a 25k tag early last year.
Wesley Wright More than 1 year ago
I guess you could call Wise Dan a 4 Star General for his back-2-back victory in the Fourstar carrying 129 lbs.
Wesley Wright More than 1 year ago
I would love to see WD take on more distance. When the mile is over he is just ready to run!
MICHAEL More than 1 year ago
A false belief!! nothing could be further from the truth.