04/14/2011 12:41PM

Keeneland: Wise Dan looks tough in Commonwealth


LEXINGTON, Ky. – For the second straight year, Keeneland racing officials were only able to round up five horses to run in the Grade 2, $175,000 Commonwealth Stakes, which makes you wonder about its long-term feasibility. But that won’t matter a bit Saturday to Charlie Lopresti, who will saddle Wise Dan, the likely favorite for the seven-furlong Polytrack race.

“I’m just glad they’re running it,” Lopresti said.

Wise Dan, winner of the Phoenix here last fall, was last seen splashing through a Thanksgiving Day slop in a Churchill Downs allowance victory, and like the other top older horses in the Lopresti barn, Successful Dan and Here Comes Ben, he got much of the winter off when staying put in Kentucky.

“I’m very satisfied with Wise Dan,” Lopresti said. “He’s done nothing but breeze perfect, gone about everything the right way. If he’s the same horse we put away for the winter, he’s going to be tough.”

Lopresti said Keeneland tried to get him to run Here Comes Ben in the Commonwealth, “but he’s still two or three breezes from being ready, and besides, I’d like to keep these horses separated if I can.”

Lopresti added that Successful Dan was ready to return to training Friday after recovering from a strained suspensory ligament.

Julien Leparoux has the mount back aboard Wise Dan, who breaks from post 2. Lopresti said he is most wary of Aikenite, who will break from post 1 with John Velazquez.

“He had a race down at Gulfstream, and that figures to help,” he said.

Aikenite is trained by Todd Pletcher and owned by Dogwood Stable, which got off to a hot start at this spring meet with two first-time-starting winners.

The rest of the field for the 25th Commonwealth, the seventh of 10 Saturday races, is Le Grand Cru, Cool Bullet, and Taqarub.