08/12/2012 12:53PM

Saratoga: Wise Dan has Woodward as possible next start

Tom Keyser
Wise Dan, with John Velazquez guiding him, wins the Fourstardave.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - In three performances this year, Wise Dan has proven to be equally proficient on synthetic, dirt and turf. It’s a rare trait and one that gives his connections plenty of options when they sit down to plot out the future for the 5-year-old gelding.

On the morning after Wise Dan’s five-length victory over Corporate Jungle in Saturday’s Grade 2, $500,000 Fourstardave Handicap, which came over a yielding Saratoga turf course, trainer Charlie Lopresti mentioned several options for a next start, the most intriguing being the Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward Invitational Handicap over the dirt here on Sept. 1.

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At one time, Wise Dan was being considered for the Whitney on the dirt, but Lopresti and owner Morton Fink thought they had Successful Dan for the spot before an injury derailed that plan. Also, Lopresti was not overly enthused with how Wise Dan was training over Saratoga’s dirt course.

That was then. This is now.

Recently, Lopresti has seen Wise Dan handling Saratoga’s dirt course better in his morning gallops. A workout by Wise Dan in 10 days or two weeks over the main track could help make the decision a little easier.

“He’s right here in his backyard,” said Lopresti, whose barn is situated not far from the five-furlong pole on the backstretch. “We might breeze him over it and see how he breezes and let the exercise rider and myself sit down and decide. When he breezed on the turf there was no doubt in my mind he was going to run good over it. His first breeze was good, the second breeze was phenomenal.”

Wise Dan has run well on dirt in the past. He won the Grade 1 Clark Handicap last November at Churchill Downs. In June, he was beaten a head by Ron the Greek in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster, also at Churchill.

“If we could come back and win a Grade 1 on dirt you could probably say he’s one of the best horses in training,” Lopresti said.

Prior to the Stephen Foster, Wise Dan won the Grade 3 Ben Ali over Keeneland’s synthetic surface setting a track record of 1:46.63 for 1 1/8 miles while winning by 10 1/2 lengths.

In the Fourstardave, Wise Dan ran a mile in 1:37.30 over a yielding turf course and was assigned a 108 Beyer Speed Figure.

Asked what he believes is Wise Dan’s preferred surface, Lopresti said, “I don’t think it matters, he just likes to run. A horse like him comes around once in a lifetime.”

If Lopresti and Fink decide to skip the Whitney, the other options would be to wait for the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont on Sept. 29 or keep him on turf in the $1 million Woodbine Mile on Sept. 16. Last year, Lopresti won the Woodbine Mile with Turallure, who got beat a nose in the Breeders’ Cup Mile.

Meanwhile, trainer Chad Brown said that Fourstardave runner-up Corporate Jungle came out of his race in good order and would most likely be pointed to Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland on Oct. 6. Brown was pleased with his colt’s performance and tipped his hat to the winner for getting through on the rail.

“If [pacesetter] Get Stormy had stayed right on the fence maybe he gets stuck there for a little while and I get the jump on him,” Brown said, referring to Wise Dan. “At the end of the day you can’t win races just hoping other horses get in trouble when they’re the best horse. Yesterday he was the best horse. . . . My horse will have his day. He’ll knock off a big race if he stays the way he is because he’s got tons of talent.”