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Keeneland notes: Wise Dan, Groupie Doll exceed expectations in Breeders' Cup preps
By Marty McGee
LEXINGTON, Ky. – It’s not all that often that expectations are exceeded the way that Wise Dan and Groupie Doll did in their victories on the opening FallStars Weekend at Keeneland.
But both were spectacular in capturing their respective races as heavy favorites Saturday, pretty much clinching favoritism in their upcoming races in the Nov. 2-3 Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita.
Wise Dan was his usual freakish self, putting away the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile by the time he passed the eighth pole. Ditto for Groupie Doll, who gave her usual surge of power entering the stretch run of the Grade 2 Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes to run her record with blinkers to 4 for 4.
“He’s good right now,” Charlie Lopresti, trainer of Wise Dan, said in obvious understatement. “He’s really good.”
Lopresti was pressed by the media about whether he and owner-breeder Morton Fink might be tempted to try the $5 million BC Classic instead of settling for solid favoritism in the $2 million Mile, but by Sunday, Lopresti had confirmed that the Mile is indeed his race.
“I don’t think he handles the dirt quite as well,” Lopresti said. “Don’t get me wrong, he’s awfully good on the dirt. But the way he’s been running on the grass, I don’t think I want to take the chance of missing that kind of opportunity.”
Wise Dan earned his sixth straight triple-digit Beyer Speed Figure, a 105, with his victory at 3-5.
Groupie Doll, who got a 103 Beyer for the six furlongs in her triumph at 2-5, will have a couple of easy breezes at her home Churchill Downs base before being part of an Oct. 26 charter flight to California, trainer Buff Bradley said. She is being pointed to the seven-furlong Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.
“I thought maybe the six furlongs would be a tad short for her, but she really came through again,” Bradley said. “Stretching out to seven furlongs and moving back to the dirt for the Breeders’ Cup, I mean, you’d sure think it’ll be a nice spot for us.”
The wins by Wise Dan and Groupie Doll highlighted what was a very formful opening weekend of stakes action. Of the nine graded FallStars races, six were won by favorites, with the others being Spring In the Air (4-1 in the Grade 1 Darley Alcibiades), Bridgetown (7-10, Grade 3 Woodford), Balance the Books (9-10, Grade 3 Bourbon), and In Lingerie (2-1, Grade 1 Juddmonte Spinster).
Meanwhile, Willcox Inn, runner-up in the Shadwell at 48-1, will be considered for the BC Mile, trainer Mike Stidham said. Willcox Inn, a multiple graded winner on grass, earned a career-high 100 Beyer.
Rough day on the track
Some rough activity Sunday led to three straight races with jockeys’ objections or inquiries, most notably the seventh race, the Bourbon, when an obvious foul by Really Sharp led to his disqualification from second to sixth.
In the fifth race, an objection by Julio Garcia on Holdin Bullets against the winner, Rivendell, was disallowed. In the sixth race, the stewards allowed an objection by John Velazquez, rider of El Duro, when disqualifying Taken by the Storm and jockey David Cohen for a couple of bumps at the quarter pole and awarding the victory to El Duro.
The Bourbon was a no-brainer as Really Sharp, ridden by Elvis Trujillo, raced very erratically down the stretch, impeding several rivals.
Both Cohen and Trujillo will view replays of their races Wednesday with the Keeneland stewards, who then will determine whether suspensions are in order.
Simon plays role in Joha’s win
Among the innumerable back-stories from the FallStars Weekend aftermath was the hidden role that owner-trainer Chuck Simon played in Joha winning the Grade 1 Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity on Saturday.
Simon, a former regular on the Kentucky circuit now working in Pennsylvania, bought Mujado, the mare of Joha, for $8,700 in January 2008 on what Simon, acting as agent for Bluegrass Equine Bloodstock, recalled as a “cold, miserable day.”
“That’s probably why we got her so cheap,” he said.
Bluegrass bred Mujado to Johar in 2009, and she produced Joha the following March.
◗ A new initiative called Oldham County Thoroughbred Supporters is staging a “meet and greet” barbecue from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Sunday at the Skylight Training Center just east of Louisville. Its mission is to introduce horsemen, fans, and industry professionals to each other. The cost is $20. For more information, call (502) 639-1498.
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