05/01/2014 12:09PM

Wise Dan heavy favorite for Woodford Reserve repeat

Email

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – For the second straight year, reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan is the star warm-up act for the Kentucky Derby, running in the race immediately preceding the Derby, the $500,000 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic.

Whether of not any of the nine horses entered against Wise Dan can warm him up is another matter. Although there are some quality entrants, led by Grade 1 winners Seek Again and Boisterous, none have anywhere near the class and consistency of Wise Dan, a winner of 12 of 13 starts on turf.

Unlike the April 11 Maker’s 46 Mile at Keeneland, when Wise Dan was at less-than-peak fitness when returning from a more than five-month layoff, there is no such concern heading into the Woodford Reserve, a race he won last year by 4 3/4 lengths, also in his second start of the year.

Trainer Charlie LoPresti said Wise Dan has trained exceptionally since his last start, recording a bullet half-mile breeze in 47.60 seconds April 22 on Keeneland’s Polytrack and a three-furlong blowout there in 35 seconds April 29.

“He was phenomenal, the way he did that,” LoPresti said of the three-furlong work, in which he timed Wise Dan’s last furlong in 11 seconds.

[DRF Live: Get live reports and handicapping insights from Churchill Downs on Saturday]

If there is any potential vulnerability to Wise Dan, it is the target he has become, not surprising as a two-time Horse of the Year. And with Wise Dan being a stalker drawing the inside post, jockeys aboard other horses in the race will likely try to box him in.

“It better be a strong box,” quipped Mike Maker, trainer of Admiral Kitten and Moro Tap.

Top-class horses find holes lesser horses cannot. As Wise Dan showed in the Firecracker last year, he will scrape the hedge on the Churchill turf to secure room if jockey John Velazquez asks him to.

Making his first start for Racing Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott in the Woodford Reserve is Seek Again, winner of last year’s Grade 1 Hollywood Derby in his last outing, Dec. 1. John Gosden previously trained the colt, who raced in Britain before being brought to America for the Hollywood Derby.

Mott expects him to be fit despite the long time since his last start, noting a lengthy series of works at Payson Park before a couple of breezes at Churchill, including one on turf.

“Somebody’s got to run against Wise Dan,” Mott said. “We figured we’d give it a try.”

Joel Rosario rides Seek Again, who starts from the outside in the field of 10.

Boisterous is another contender, having won two stakes last year, including the Grade 1 Man o’ War Stakes, plus a high-level allowance race by a neck April 5 at Keeneland. The latter victory came going the Woodford Reserve’s distance of 1 1/8 miles and despite a tepid pace that forced Boisterous to be moved wide early on the second turn.

Bright Thought and Skyring appear the only two speed horses, and if one is rated, a slow pace may develop.

kimmons2 More than 1 year ago
May God continue to Bless Wise Dan with Greatness with a Big Win today and may he come back Safe and Sound!
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
A BIG yes to the safe and sound!
Robert More than 1 year ago
Bet twenty to show on Wise Dan so we can help the greedy Churchill Downs have a negative show pool. Don't bet any other races to help the greedy turds.
presidentwong1 More than 1 year ago
Track: Churchill Downs Race: 10 Wager: Show Amount: $1000 Runner: #1 Wise Dan MAKE BET...REPEAT BET...MAKE BET.....REPEAT BET....MAKE BET....
Bugsy Anderson More than 1 year ago
"Somebody's got to run against Wise Dan". Like I said... this is the problem with racing today. With so many other options for big money at many other tracks for milers in the next month, why face WD and only be running for second. WD should win this pretty easily. Racing needs great match up, not great individual performances. Id love to see WD get a field full of grade 1 and 2 winners and not this NX3 stuff
Jaime Dubyna More than 1 year ago
Wise Dan should win this easily, no doubt. But this is a pretty good field, three other grade 1 winners are entered, a horse that broke a record for 1 1/2 miles. He can only run against who enters his races.
sjm80s . More than 1 year ago
Bugsy, the problem in this case is that there is not a horse in America that can compete with him. He is MUCH the best at his craft. This is the best horse running in America today. Make no mistake.
Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
With only so many Mile turf races, and Dan usually wins all of them aside from the west coast miles. So it is pretty tough to find other recent grade 1 winners who ran and won going a mile. Now this race is 9f, that opened the door to far more graded stakes winners on turf...nobody showed..lol. Well there is a Kitten in there to scare him..lol. How is your day so far Bugsy?
B More than 1 year ago
Seek Again helps make this race a little more interesting. Anyone know why the switch from Nakatani after such a strong ride in the Hollywood Derby?
sjm80s . More than 1 year ago
Its Nakatani.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Yea, Rosario hasn't exactly been ringin the board up lately. CNAK runnin turf lights out.
presidentwong1 More than 1 year ago
Negative takeout time on the show pool everyone! Its very seldom the gambling public has as loud as a voice to demonstrate our displeasure by betting so the track loses money on a certain wagering product.
Ian GW More than 1 year ago
What happened to Beer? Did the hide em in DRF plus because he picks winners?
Randy Baker More than 1 year ago
I love the smirk on his face when Dan Illman says and todays formulator race of the day the 3rd race from Beulah.
B More than 1 year ago
I like watching him too. He's got an honest good guy presence & is a good handicapper. He should on one of the horse racing networks.
Rick Marciniak More than 1 year ago
I heard he went to Timeform US.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Has writeup on timeform , and shown at TVG. TVG free PP/s.
Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
Not a fan of Beer(The Handicapper that is ;) . So glad I was able to shove that BC Classic win in his face, after the bad preview he gave of Mucho macho man. Illman picked MMM....we both laughed to the teller that day. Although he does pick some decent winners here and there. I just don't use his picks.