10/03/2013 3:30PM

Keeneland: LoPresti rooting for Wise Dan-Turallure exacta in Shadwell Mile


LEXINGTON, Ky. – Charlie LoPresti sounds like a broken record when asked to talk about Wise Dan. How could he not? Wise Dan just keeps winning and impressing and, according to LoPresti, thriving all the while.

The only new verse is the one about how many horsemen are willing to try Wise Dan when the 2012 Horse of the Year goes for a repeat Saturday in the richest race of the Keeneland fall meet, the $750,000 Shadwell Turf Mile.

Funny, but LoPresti is one of them.

“I’ve got Turallure in there, just like these other guys, hoping to get second or third money,” said LoPresti. “I love Turallure, but I sure don’t want to get Wise Dan beat. No way.”

A surprisingly large field of 10 is set for the Grade 1 Shadwell, which Wise Dan won last year before earning the Horse of the Year title with a victory in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. The identical blueprint is being used this year, with the Shadwell, a Win and You’re In event, serving as the final stepping-stone to the Nov. 2 BC Mile at Santa Anita.

Wise Dan, with Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez to ride for LoPresti and owner-breeder Mort Fink, will break from the outside post in the two-turn Shadwell. The 6-year-old Wise Dan has won his last nine starts, including all five this year, the most recent being a course-record triumph in the Sept. 15 Woodbine Mile. His career record stands at 18 wins from 25 starts and earnings of more than $5 million.

“The outside post really doesn’t concern me because the horse has enough speed to get position, and Johnny will ride him with confidence,” said LoPresti. “The biggest thing that worries me is the size of the field. Let’s just hope we can avoid trouble because you know there are so many things that can happen in a horse race. Obviously I just want to come out of this with a win and a healthy horse.”

If Wise Dan were to somehow be defeated, the most likely upsetters are Winning Prize (post 1, Garrett Gomez), an Argentine-bred who dominated a Del Mar turf allowance six weeks ago in his North American debut for Neil Drysdale; Summer Front (post 5, Joe Bravo), a winner of his last two starts for Christophe Clement, who won back-to-back renewals of the Shadwell (2010-11) with champion Gio Ponti; Willcox Inn (post 6, Jimmy Graham), runner-up to Wise Dan in the Shadwell last year; and Silver Max (post 9, Robby Albarado), a front-runner with 10 wins from 21 starts and earnings of more than $1.2 million.

Clement joked that for Summer Front to beat Wise Dan, “maybe I can get Bravo to cut through the infield; that would be my first choice.”

In a more serious vein: “I saw Wise Dan at Woodbine and it was one of the most impressive performances I’ve ever seen. But in a Grade 1, you can’t dodge just one horse. It’s racing and you never know what’s going to happen. Maybe he will bounce or something. You just have to try, and try your best. My horse is a very good miler and is coming into this race as good as he can be.”

Turallure (post 2, Julien Leparoux), trained by LoPresti for Four D Stables, once ranked among the best turf milers on the continent but has gone winless in his last nine starts.

“I really don’t have anywhere else to run him,” said LoPresti. “He’s training well and I thought, why not, he’s probably as good as any of the others. I’d love to run one-two.”

Rounding out the field are Skyring, Hogy, Handsome Mike, and Coalport. Hogy also was entered in the Phoenix Stakes on the Friday opener at Keeneland, but trainer Wayne Catalano said he was leaning toward the Shadwell.

The Shadwell, the ninth of 10 Saturday races and last of five straight graded stakes, is set for 5:21 p.m. Eastern on a card that starts at 1:05. TVG will have full coverage.

The Shadwell is the final leg of a pick four wager that starts with the Grade 2 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes (race 6) and is followed by the Grade 1 First Lady (race 7) and Grade 1 Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity (race 8). The Grade 3 Woodford for turf sprinters starts the stakes action as race 5.

The forecast for Saturday calls for spectacular conditions, with sunny skies and a high temperature of 85. An ontrack crowd of about 30,000 can be expected.