04/10/2013 4:51PM

Keeneland: Horse of the Year Wise Dan will make history in Maker's 46 Mile

Tom Keyser
Wise Dan, shown winning the Breeders' Cup Mile last fall, will launch his 6-year-old campaign in the Maker's 46 Mile.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – There’s a first time for everything, even at a track as old as Keeneland.

Wise Dan will become the first reigning Horse of the Year to make a comeback at 76-year-old Keeneland when he runs Friday in the Grade 1, $300,000 Maker’s 46 Mile, something that makes the gelding’s trainer, Charlie LoPresti, quite proud.

“It’s an honor because this is home,” said LoPresti, based at Keeneland for the last 15 years. “We’ll lead him over hoping he can start off another great year with a win.”

Wise Dan, bred and owned by Mort Fink, will be ridden by Jose Lezcano when breaking from the outside post and facing just four other older horses in the 25th running of the Maker’s 46. Lezcano will be substituting for regular rider John Velazquez, who is out several weeks with injuries sustained last weekend in a spill at Aqueduct.

Lezcano is familiar with Wise Dan, having ridden him to victory here last fall in the Grade 1 Shadwell Mile when Velazquez had a scheduling conflict.

“Johnny told me he and Jose have talked all about the horse,” said LoPresti. “We should be all set there.”

Wise Dan, now 6, was a runaway choice for Horse of the Year when winning all but one of his six starts in 2012, ending with a rousing triumph in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita in early November. The gelding has had seven morning workouts since getting his customary winter respite, and LoPresti is eager for afternoon action to commence.

“He’s given me every indication that he’s the same horse,” LoPresti said. “I mean, I don’t want to get cocky and come over here and say we’re going to run off and win because this is actually just a starting point. We’d love to win, of course. But I’m going to take everything one step at a time and just hope he shows up like we know he can.”

The foursome facing Wise Dan are not of the same caliber of runners that finished behind him in the BC Mile last fall, those being Animal Kingdom, Obviously, and Excelebration. Still, this is a Grade 1, and LoPresti is particularly fearful of Data Link, a Shug McGaughey-trained 5-year-old who upset the Maker’s 46 last spring at 12-1.

“He’s really improved and matured, even from last year when he won,” said LoPresti. “I think if anybody can jump up and beat us Friday it’d be him.”

Data Link will break right alongside Wise Dan in post 4 when ridden by Javier Castellano. Since winning the Maker’s 46 last spring, Data Link has won three graded stakes, ending with the Grade 3 Canadian Turf at Gulfstream Park in his most recent start Feb. 23. The horse shows a series of four sharp workouts in the interim.

LoPresti said he has no plan for Wise Dan beyond working backward from a return to the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita in November. He said he “seriously doubted” he would try running back in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic on the May 4 Kentucky Derby undercard but that he does have his eye on another Grade 1 race at Churchill Downs in June: the Grade 1 Stephen Foster, a dirt race in which Wise Dan was narrowly defeated last year.

“I would really like to get that one,” admitted LoPresti.

From the rail, and with jockeys, this is the rest of the field for the Maker’s 46: Silentio, Rafael Bejarano; Mr. Commons, Corey Nakatani; and Skyring, Rosie Napravnik.

Silentio, in from Southern California for Gary Mandella, is developing into a terrific miler. In his last race, the 4-year-old colt lost a head-bobbing photo to the well regarded Suggestive Boy in the Grade 1 Kilroe Mile on March 3 at Santa Anita.

Under allowance conditions, Wise Dan will spot the opposition three to five pounds when carrying 123 pounds.

Since the Horse of the Year award was first given to Ack Ack in 1971, a number of those honorees have returned to racing the following year. Over the last 25 years, nine of 10 who returned have won their comeback races, with only Rachel Alexandra failing to do so when second in her 2010 debut.

First post Friday is 1:05 p.m. Eastern, with the Maker’s 46 set for 5:13. TVG will provide full-day coverage.

Although temperatures soared into the 80s here Wednesday, a cooling trend was forecast for the coming days, with a high of only 56 projected for Friday.


Matt More than 1 year ago
Mr. Commons will win.He's locked and loaded to run Huge today! single him
MT_Black More than 1 year ago
Only way to win real bucks is to have multiple tickets in the pick 5 and hope for a number early in the sequence. Seems like WISE DAN relishes Keeneland and DATA LINK is good horse but the way AK crushed in Dubai makes me think WD will be out by four or five lengths after 8th pole. Wise Dan is a MONSTROSITY
Advance Plumbing More than 1 year ago
ok diude wise dan a lock who else u got in the rest of the 12 horse fields wide open grab bags??
nicola c More than 1 year ago
First off Wise Dan is buying money, throw your house and children on him, secondly the below comments bashing Rachel & Zenyatta get a grip u muppets those two were stars and in Zenyatta that horse was the most popular in years she was hugely popular just the star u need in a dying racing scene over there, heck she made the news here across the pond numerous times. enough there gone now MOVE ON. Dan is still here, watch the boy burn em up.
Gene Ferrara More than 1 year ago
I was at Santa Anita in 1972 when Ack Ack made his first start after being named the champion the previous year. He had just been syndicated for $1 million. I had $20 on his nose, which was a mountain of money to me at the time. He was making his move on the far turn when he went down. They had to destroy him. I cried all the way home.
Ann Ferland More than 1 year ago
Can't have been Ack Ack you are talking about.; he never raced in 1972. Colicked in August 1971 so didn't get to go to New York to seal things in the 10f Woodward and was retired. Could it have been Washington's Birthday card of 1973? In a turf-to-dirt stakes race? Two horses broke down in that race, a South American SW named Tuqui and the previous season's champion older horse Autobiography. I was there; first time I saw a breakdown on the track. Grim.
PennNatRick More than 1 year ago
will be a great race to watch! tough to bet with a small field. he will water down the pick 3's and 4's if he wins. I'm just watching this one and excited to see him in 2013.
Alex More than 1 year ago
Data Link is going to fully extend Wise Dan.
Eric More than 1 year ago
I would appreciate someone from DRF to address an issue I've seen in recent days. It seems more and more the public handicappers at the various tracks are giving out, as the "DRF Best Bet" the most overwhelming favorites on the various cards where they handicap. While public handicappers picking favorites isn't uncommon, it's gotten much worse, almost like a systematic plan. It is as if the DRF wants to promote the high winning % of their public handicappers and has told each one of them to focus on giving out the most probable winners at their respective tracks, irregardless of odds. Dave Litfin, no stranger to heavy favorites, this week gave out a 1-9 shot, a 1-2 shot (finished 4th yesterday), Verrazano, and a ML 4-5 shot today. But the kicker is Steve Klein at Keenland. Steve historically has been more imaginative in his selections, but even he is now giving out odds-on favorites. His pick yesterday was 4-5, and his selection for tomorrow is none other than Wise Dan (2-5?). What is mind boggling about this pick...mind you, it is part of "DRF Best Bets", is than Steve says in his synopsis, and I quote, “It's difficult to imagine him losing, and this isn't much of a betting race, so I'll just enjoy the pleasure of watching him run.” In his pick as the day's "Best Bet" he willingly admits that he cannot actually bet his selection! Isn't that the whole point of making a "Best Bet" selection...TO BET! This trend is rendering the entire process meaningless. Please go back to offering some insightful information that the casual handicapper may not have and give out horses that figure to off at odds higher than their true chance of winning....you know, on overlay.
Perl More than 1 year ago
You have a point there. I laughed when I saw Klein's best bet. The guy did pick Charismatic to win the Derby at 30-1 tho.
Eric More than 1 year ago
Exactly. Like I said....of all guys...I expect Klein's selections to have a decent price.
John Pisiona More than 1 year ago
The job of the professional handicapper is to pick winners, not prices.
Eric More than 1 year ago
I would think that within the framework of that job is to help the casual fan, so that some thought as to prices should be factored in, although I could be wrong. But in a feature titled "DRF Best Bet", it certainly implies that there is some consideration to price, profit, etc. So to give out a horse, then claim that you can't justify betting it, seems to defeat the entire purpose.
PennNatRick More than 1 year ago
I hear you Eric, but you can use their best bet and key exactas, tris and supers. You can use it as a single in multi-race exotics such as Pick 3 and 4's etc. If you think they are wrong...beat it and greet the cashier at the window. best of luck this weekend. --PNR
George Lemel More than 1 year ago
Anyone and I mean anyone can pick a 3-5 morning line favorite, but a professional player would skip that race because it has no value! A professional handicapper appreciates watching a race with a "sure thing", but plays races where a profit can be made! I love "bridge jumpers"!! Good call Eric!! I do like a horse in the 8th race, #2 Secure The Border, morning line 20-1!! Good luck!!
akhiym james More than 1 year ago
Wise Dan will destroy this field. No one has the turn of foot he has on grass and will leave everyone behind when they turn for home. Yes there are some good runners in here but none on his level. People just want home to lose because they betting the race and I can understand that but this is honestly not a race to bet with the field being so short. I hope you guys win on tryna beat him but I highly doubt he loses unless he breaks down
Maria More than 1 year ago
Wise Dan will make history again!
Forego137 More than 1 year ago
Data Link is no slouch and can't be underestimated, but then history dictates that of the last 10 H.O.T.Y. winners to return to race 9have won their comeback race with the exception of Rachael Alexander who lost her comeback race after mistakenly being voted H.O.T.Y. and that panned out the remainder of the year that it was a horrible mistake to name her H.O.T.Y. instead of Zenyatta who continued her undefeated ways the following year and finally got her due H.O.T.Y. after being robbed the previous year.
bleck1022 More than 1 year ago
Are you kidding me? Rachel Alexandra completely deserved Horse of the Year for her historic campaign that completely challenged the norm for 3yo fillies. Her taxing campaign affected her race performance for the next year. Just because she had a subpar 4yo campaign doesn't take anything away from the breathtaking and thrilling performances she gave us when she was 3. Zenyatta deserved it the following year.
Chris F More than 1 year ago
Yeah..you are a moron. Plain and simple. Zenyatta faced the same lackluster fields repeatedly and had one big effort on a surface that neutralized the other horses' chances, while Rachel faced competition not normal for 3-year old filles, dominating the Oaks, Preakness, Mother Goose, Haskell and Woodward all in sensational times. Zenyatta couldn't even beat Blame in her supposed "championship" year. HOY isn't won off one race. That's like saying a Pro-basketball player defeated 19 Kindergarteners in a row and thus deserved the championship. Please get a clue?
Perl More than 1 year ago
Calm down bro. They both had outstanding campaigns and to downplay Zen's accomplishments is not really the way to go. Zenyatta "couldn't even beat Blame..." She lost by a head on a track she didn't like after falling behind by 79 lengths. Clearly one of the most remarkable losing efforts in recent memory. She wasn't beating Kindergardeners either. Two wrongs don't make a right, brau.
Perl More than 1 year ago
Yeah this is pretty much off base. What happened in 2010 should have no bearing on what took place in 2009. Rachel was pretty much cooked after she beat older male horses at Saratoga. She took on and beat the boys twice and had a far more aggressive campaign than Zenyatta. This is to take nothing away from the Queen, who debatably should have won the award because of her fantastic win in the BC Classic. But really, why would you use what happened a year later as some kind of demented "evidence" of your claim? That's just well, ya know.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Keep drinking the Zenyatta koolaid. She beat up tomato cans on the West Coast. Rachel deserved HOY hands down.
Billy Spathanas More than 1 year ago
Boy you are out numbered on this one Forego. To say Rachael , mistakingly HOY, really. Where were you in Jail that year in 2009 ? Rachael ran 8 times and on 7 different race tracks that year. Zenyatta stayed home and went 5 for 5. Undeafeated or not, its what Rachael did for racing that year....
Sharjil Ahmad More than 1 year ago
You are ridiculous.... You seem to be one of those who wrote her poems all that year until she got beat by a mediocre horse in Blame. No filly EVER had a campaign like rachel. Does that count for somthing ? Beating tomato cans isnt being GREAT.