04/21/2013 7:28PM

Half-brothers Wise Dan and Successful Dan shine at Keeneland

Photos by Z/Keeneland
Successful Dan, a half-brother to Horse of the Year Wise Dan, scored in the Grade 3 Ben Ali Stakes at Keeneland on Sunday

Owner-breeder Morton Fink and trainer Charles LoPresti will have some tough decisions to make as the 2013 racing season progresses—but it's a good problem to have.

Fink's homebred Successful Dan remained unbeaten on Keeneland Race Course's synthetic Polytrack surface with a front-running victory in the Grade 3 Ben Ali Stakes in his seasonal debut Sunday. The win came just over a week after the gelding's younger half-brother, reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan, won the Grade 1 Maker's 46 Mile on the Keeneland turf in his first start of the year.

After the Ben Ali, LoPresti said he would have to weigh his options carefully with the geldings, two of the biggest stars in the handicap division.

"I really don’t want to run them against each other," LoPresti said. "Sometime it might happen, but I hope I won’t have to do that."

Successful Dan, a 7-year-old Successful Appeal gelding, ran the 1 1/8 miles in 1:51.14 after coasting uncontested through his early fractions, finishing well off the course record of 1:46.63 established by Wise Dan when he won the same event last year.

With the win, Successful Dan improved his record on Keeneland’s Polytrack to five wins from five starts, dating back to his career debut in April 2009. The Ben Ali was his fourth career graded stakes score and his second at Keeneland, to go along with the Grade 2 Fayette Stakes in 2010. Sunday's race marked the first start since June 2012 for Successful Dan, who has twice had his career interrupted for more than a year by injury.

Successful Dan’s affinity for Keeneland’s synthetic surface is apparent in his breeding. His sire, Successful Appeal, is among the leading sires of synthetic runners in North America, ranking in the top 20 by lifetime progeny win percentage among those with 500 or more all-weather starts, with 17.2 percent winners from 638 progeny starts.

“He likes this track,” LoPresti said. “He’s trained here all winter. He’s had nine works over this track. I was a little bit concerned going into this race, because I haven’t had the best luck this meet with my horses on the Polytrack. They’ve been working good, but they sure haven’t been showing up [in the races], and I was a little bit concerned about that. I told a few people this morning, ‘If this horse didn’t run good over it, then I know I’m doing something wrong.’”

Like Successful Dan, Wise Dan has found a good deal of success at Keeneland, with half of his 10 career graded stakes wins coming at the track—most recently in the Maker’s 46 Mile on April 12. It was the fifth straight victory for the 6-year-old Wiseman's Ferry gelding, who clinched honors as Horse of the Year, champion older male, and champion turf male with a victory in the 2012 Breeders' Cup Mile.

Both horses are quite versatile. Wise Dan is a Grade 1 winner on both turf and dirt and a Grade 2 winner on synthetic. Successful Dan, himself a track record holder at Churchill Downs for 1 1/16 miles on the dirt, is a Grade 2 winner on both dirt and synthetic, but has never raced on turf.

“We never tried [Successful Dan] on the grass,” LoPresti said. “We worked him on the grass one day, and he was looking around at the grandstand and the tote board. He didn’t have any idea what he was doing. I think he worked five-eights in 1:06 and I said ‘You know what, we’re not going to try the grass.’”

Successful Dan's victory capped an outstanding meet for runners out of Fink's broodmare Lisa Danielle. The winning Wolf Power mare was represented by three sons to race at the Keeneland spring meet, with Wise Dan and Successful Dan both scoring graded stakes victories in their seasonal debuts. Another half-brother, the Mutakddim gelding Casino Dan, finished a solid second in an allowance event on April 12, which was his first start since June 2012.

Lisa Danielle, who Fink purchased for $29,000 at the 1995 Keeneland September yearling sale, is one of four finalists for Kentucky's Broodmare of the Year award, to be presented April 25. Seven of the mare's eight foals to race are winners, highlighted by the aforementioned Wise Dan and Successful Dan, as well as stakes winner and producer Our Royal Dancer.

Lisa Danielle is a half-sister to Grade 1-placed Carsona, dam of Grade 2 winner Siphon City and Grade 3-placed Bronx City Girl; to Sunup, dam of two champions in Panama; and to Mephista, dam of stakes-placed Thisoneforyou.