02/25/2012 12:22PM

Keeneland: Lopresti works Wise Dan, Turallure, and Successful Dan

Keeneland/Coady Photography
Wise Dan, shown winning the Fayette last fall, is on target to begin his season at the Keeneland meet.

LEXINGTON , Ky. – Three of the best older horses in North America had early breezes Saturday. That, in itself, hardly qualifies as big news.

But what is unusual is that the workouts came on a cold February morning at Keeneland, where the stable area is largely vacant, save for the likes of Charlie Lopresti. Successful Dan, Wise Dan, and Turallure all worked over the Polytrack surface, and under Lopresti’s watchful eye, as they remain out of sight to the racing public, but only for a few more weeks.

Lopresti has never traveled to the popular southern destinations of Florida or Louisiana during the winter, preferring instead to remain living and working on his Kentucky farm with his wife and assistant, Amy. In this era of tough economics, where keeping an active year-round stable is a must for the vast majority of owners and trainers, the Lopresti stable stays old-school while taking some down time in the winter while primarily eyeing the Keeneland spring meet in April as a restart point.

“It’s just the way we’ve always done it,” said Lopresti, 54. “We stay busy with all the babies we’ve got on the farm, and I really think the horses benefit from their time off. It’s worked for us.”

Successful Dan was first to go Saturday, breaking off under exercise rider Jessica Howell just before daybreak and proceeding through five furlongs in 1:02. Lopresti is hopefully optimistic the 6-year-old gelding – who has just eight career starts because of two lengthy layoffs forced by injury – is sitting on a breakout year.

“He’s healthy and really feeling good,” he said. “There’s a whole lot of hope with this horse.”

Still unraced since finishing first and being disqualified in the 2010 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs, Successful Dan has fully recovered from a second suspensory injury to his left foreleg and is being pointed to an allowance race on opening weekend of the Keeneland meet, which runs April 6-27.

About 30 minutes later, amid daylight, Wise Dan went a half-mile in 47.80 seconds under exercise rider Damien Rock. A nearly four-length winner of the 2011 Clark in his last start, the 5-year-old gelding likely will make his return in the seven-furlong Commonwealth Stakes on the April 14 Blue Grass Stakes undercard.

“Wise Dan has been pretty tough to train, but he’s finally matured, and I think the time off has really helped him mentally and physically,” said Lopresti.

Just a few minutes later, Turallure breezed a half-mile in 49.40 seconds under Howell, flaunting the high-knee action that he has shown during his ascent to the top echelon of the turf-miler ranks. Beaten maybe an inch by Court Vision when a late-flying second in the Breeders’ Cup Mile last November, Turallure is slated to make his return in the newly named Maker’s 46 Mile, the Grade 1 turf race formerly known as the Maker’s Mark Mile.

The workouts for all three of the Lopresti stars were their second this month, and the trainer anticipates working them regularly up to their designated races. This has been an unusually mild winter in Kentucky, and Lopresti said he is “probably 30 days ahead” of schedule versus last year, when he tried to follow a familiar pattern, only to be slowed by weather.

“We’re really looking good, and obviously the weather’s been a big help,” he said. “I just want to keep these horses happy and healthy, and before you know it we’ll be back in action.”