08/08/2013 2:54PM

Saratoga: Wise Dan towers over Fourstardave rivals

Barbara D. Livingston
Wise Dan will concede from 11 to 14 pounds and break from the inside post in the Fourstardave.

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – When he ran in the Fourstardave Handicap last year, Wise Dan was coming off a loss, had not raced on turf in 10 months, and at 119 pounds was in receipt of a pound from the 2010 Fourstardave winner, Get Stormy.

When he runs in Saturday’s Grade  2, $500,000 Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga, Wise Dan comes in as the reigning Horse of the Year, riding a seven-race winning streak that began with his five-length win in this race last year, and at 129 pounds will be spotting his six rivals from 11 to 14 pounds.

What a difference a year makes.

As far as trainer Charlie LoPresti is concerned, 6-year-old Wise Dan is “every bit as good” as the 5-year-old Wise Dan. Wise Dan is the first reigning Horse of the Year to run at Saratoga since Curlin won the 2008 Woodward.

“He’s had three races now and he comes up here and he works like he does,” said LoPresti, referring to a five-furlong work on July 27 in 57.37 seconds over the Oklahoma turf. “If you didn’t know him and you just saw him, he’s not that impressive. Until you watch him train. He gets out there he’s all business.”

Business has been good for Wise Dan, who began the year with victories in the Maker’s 46 Mile at Keeneland and the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill – both Grade 1 races. On June 29, Wise Dan overcame a torrential rainstorm which turned the turf course into green dirt when he won the Grade 2 Firecracker Handicap at Churchill.

When he won the one-mile Fourstardave here last year, the turf course was rated as yielding from day-long rains. There was rain in the forecast for Friday, which could take some sting out of a pretty firm Saratoga grass course.

“I hope we get more cut to the ground,” LoPresti said. “I think it would play a little bit more to a closing style instead of somebody getting on the front end galloping along there. I would like to see it a little softer. It doesn’t have to be a bog.”

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Soft turf, breaking from the rail, weight – LoPresti isn’t going into the race thinking any of it will be an excuse.

“I’m looking for him to win,” LoPresti said.

John Velazquez, who is 6 for 7 on Wise Dan, rides.

When he evaluates Wise Dan’s six rivals, LoPresti views New York-bred King Kreesa as the major threat. A 4-year-old son of King Cugat, King Kreesa is coming off back-to-back stakes wins, including a 1 1/2-length score in the Grade 3 Poker at Belmont on July 4.

King Kreesa carries 117 pounds and could play out as the primary speed under Irad Ortiz  Jr.

“Horses like that are dangerous,” LoPresti said.

Jeremiah Englehart, the trainer of King Kreesa, said he was honored to hear of LoPresti’s evaluation. Englehart said he knows his horse is the one to catch.

“One thing nice about our running style is everybody has to come and get us,” said Englehart, who is seeking his first career win at Saratoga. “You’re winning for most of the race. I’ve seen Wise Dan a few times, he looks great, I’m expecting him to run his race. We’ll see.”

[SARATOGA 2013: Complete meet coverage, exclusive DRF videos]

Lea finished second to Wise Dan in the Firecracker and is 2 for 2 at Saratoga, where trainer Al Stall believes the horse thrives.

“All that has to do with liking the environment besides what’s under foot,” Stall said. “I think he did well here last year on a day-to-day basis, I think he’s done well this year here on a day-to-day basis.”

Za Approval returns to New York after finishing second to Obviously in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile at Betfair Hollywood Park.

Trainer Christophe Clement on Thursday expressed some concern over the possibility of less than firm turf.

“Everything is great – the weather is a concern,” Clement said. “He ran one bad race in his life on off turf.”

Mr. Commons, third to Wise Dan in the Maker’s 46 Mile, had a better-than-it-looks trip when fifth in an allowance race here on Aug. 10.

Skyring, winner of the Grade 2 Dixie at nine furlong two starts back, cuts back to a mile. He was beaten 4 1/4 lengths by Wise Dan in the Maker’s 46 Mile. Willyconker, claimed for $62,500, completes the field.

The Fourstardave will be televised live on NBC in a one-hour broadcast that begins at 5 p.m. Eastern.

jarrett kowalkowski More than 1 year ago
an interesting wise dan comparison i found. Check out pittjj95.blogspot.com
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Wise Dan is a Racing Treasure...
therealdubwhite More than 1 year ago
Just saw a post on Twitter that said: "Love seeing a reigning HOY go up in a Grade 2 again horses he's already beat before". #So Exciting.
Big Jeff More than 1 year ago
The only thing sadder than tweeting is repeating tweeting.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
So true Jeff...
zerosumzen More than 1 year ago
You can watch the race and enjoy a beer. But this is not necessarily a bad betting scenario. In a race like there's often plenty of value if you can identify the second horse and bet him to place.
Mr. Ed More than 1 year ago
If you concede Wise Dan to win, then there is no value, period. If he wins his place money will destroy the place hole even for a ten to one shot which would still pay less then 3 bucks. If you handicapped someone else to win and is second or third choice, still no value as it's only a seven horse field. The only "value" if you feel the need to punt, is cheap limited exactas with Dan out. But, as you say, plenty of value betting a horse to place conceding Dan winning, is a very bad bet and offers absolutely only zerosum.
Kyle Stasierowski More than 1 year ago
Dear Mr. Grening, Here's my top 3 for the Fourstardave: 1st: 7 Lea (Joel Rosario and Al Stall Jr.), 2nd: 4 Mr. Commons (Edgar Prado and John Shirreffs), and 3rd: 5 Willyconker (Jose Ortiz and Eric Guillot) Sincerely, Kyle Stasierowski 28-year-old loyal TVG viewer, HRTV Live Feed viewer, DRF FaceBook friend, and Twitter follower from Alden, New York
Brian Cahill More than 1 year ago
Going with Za and hope the weight, soft course, inside post, and maybe one of the rabbits puts up suicidal pace can wear Dan down. $1 pick 3's low cost high reward.
Dennis Rodriguez More than 1 year ago
Mr. Ed More than 1 year ago
Za, Lea, and Kreesa might make Dan run a little bit. Kreesa gets run down at the 1/8th pole, then have to run down Lea at the 1/16th pole, and Za will chase Dan to the wire.
Matthew Ellis More than 1 year ago
What the hell are you smoking ? were not talking about Lubash its HOY WIse Dan the one who wouldn't let Animal Kingdom By LEA an ZA Approval are Grade III
Mr. Ed More than 1 year ago
Hey Matthew, lol., what the hell are you smoking. I didn't say he wouldn't win, I'm having a little fun with what I expect him to do to in order to win. Check below. It's a hot dog race to me.
noocheroni More than 1 year ago
B More than 1 year ago
Why would Mr. Commons wire this field? He's never shown any speed, however King Kreesa just might do that if not pressured early. This late blooming gelding is really coming into his own lately..Can't believe NBC is giving an hour coverage to this Grade 2 race. There are far, far more important races that don't get any network coverage at all such as the upcoming Arlington Million and the Pacific Classic. To the best of my knowledge, you've got to have TVG or HRTV to see those.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
because not everyone has to be negative about wise dan like you do. in fact he has a ton of fans so maybe the world doesn't revolve around you. Any race that is on TV i'm glad to see on tv. The Arlington million was on WGN last year...I expect it to be again
Wayne Haehner More than 1 year ago
Wise Dan most certainly DOES NOT tower over these--looking at the speed figures(and not the worthless, over-hyped, over-rated and meaningless Beyer figures)--he is marginally better than these--hardly worth the 30 cents on the dollar--you DRF scribes need a hero to pontificate about--so heroes are needed--so heroes are fabricated