09/13/2013 11:34AM

Woodbine Mile: Wise Dan seeks unprecedented repeat win

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Barbara D. Livingston
Wise Dan, seen winning the Grade 2 Fourstardave Handicap last month, won last year's Woodbine Mile by 3 1/4 lengths.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Wise Dan, the reigning North American Horse of the Year, will attempt to become the first two-time winner of the $1 million Woodbine Mile on Sunday. His imposing presence scared away several potential rivals, as just five others were entered in the 17th running of the Grade 1 stakes, which is a Win and You’re In qualifying race for the Breeders’ Cup Mile.

The Woodbine Mile heads a solid 11-race card that includes three other stakes: the Grade 1 Northern Dancer Turf, the Grade 2 Canadian, and the Grade 3 Ontario Derby. The early pick four, starting with the fourth race, has a guaranteed pool of $100,000, and the late pick four, covering the final four races, has a $200,000-guaranteed pool.

Wise Dan is riding an eight-race winning streak, all in Grade 1 or Grade 2 stakes going middle distances on grass. His top turf Beyer Speed Figure of 110 was earned in last year’s Woodbine Mile, which he won comfortably after an ideal stalking trip under John Velazquez, who has won the race a record three times.

Owner Morton Fink and trainer Charlie LoPresti have taken some flak this year for not running Wise Dan in major dirt stakes, but the criticism hasn’t made them waver from what they believe is best for the 6-year-old gelding.

“I’m not going to let anybody persuade me to do anything with the horse that Mr. Fink doesn’t want to do, or that I don’t want to do,” said LoPresti, who also won the 2011 Woodbine Mile with Turallure. “He’s very good on synthetic and dirt. He’s won a Grade 1 on dirt. He’s doing so well, the way we’re handling him right now. I think the biggest goal for us this year is to keep him undefeated.”

[WOODBINE MILE: Get PPs, watch Sunday's Woodbine card live]

The Belmont-based Za Approval should be the second choice under Garrett Gomez, a two-time winner of the Woodbine Mile. Za Approval captured the Grade 3 Red Bank in May at Monmouth Park and has been idle since running second behind top California miler Obviously in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile at Betfair Hollywood Park on June 29.

Trainer Christophe Clement scratched Za Approval from two Saratoga stakes this summer due to giving ground.

“We’re obviously looking for firm turf with him, regardless of the competition,” assistant trainer Christophe Lorieul said.

A European shipper has never won the Woodbine Mile, a drought that Trade Storm will try to end Sunday in his first start with Lasix and jockey Gary Stevens. Trade Storm has been a minor player in Group 1 company in England, where he recently finished third in the Group 2 Celebration Mile.

“He’s been very, very consistent,” trainer David Simcock said. “He’s run against some outstanding 3-year-olds. The one thing he really wants is a flat-turning track, which he’ll have at Woodbine. He’s been running on undulating tracks.”

Dimension, based in Kentucky with trainer Conor Murphy, almost upset two-time Canadian sprint champion Essence Hit Man here in the Grade 3 Bold Venture on Polytrack on July 17. Dimension ran the race of his life in the local prep for the Woodbine Mile, the Grade 2 Play the King. He put away two front-end challengers while racing along the inside, then drew clear in the stretch for an easy victory.

Jockey David Moran said Dimension inherited the lead in the Aug. 25 Play the King.

“We went out there thinking Excaper was going to be in front, but he took me there so easy,” Moran said. “At the quarter pole, I shook the line at him, and he took off like a real good horse. He doesn’t have to be in front. He sat behind Essence Hit Man all the way and was closing rapidly on him. Just after the wire, I galloped out by him.”

Excaper went with Dimension early in the seven-furlong Play the King before weakening in the stretch, but managed to hold on for second. His trainer, Ian Black, who sent out Rahy’s Attorney for an upset score in the 2008 Woodbine Mile, said he’s hoping the home field will be an advantage Sunday.

“Some horses handle shipping better than others, but I always think you’re better off just walking them over,” Black said.

Riding the River, Canada’s champion male grass runner in 2012, finished fourth in the 2012 Woodbine Mile before going to the sidelines with bone bruising. He captured the Grade 2 King Edward in his second start back and is coming off a wide, closing third in the Play the King.

Trainer Dave Cotey said he was pleased with Riding the River’s performance in the Play the King, which was run over hard ground that had favored speed in sprints.

“He ran a good race,” Cotey said. “They weren’t coming back at all on that course.”

The Woodbine Mile (5:38 p.m. Eastern) and the Northern Dancer Turf will be broadcast on Sportsnet 360 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. DRF.com will have a live stream of the card, and TVG also will provide coverage.

Tom Gregory More than 1 year ago
he got no shot - jv is obviously injured - the only race he tried in yesterday was the grade 1 - if you think i'm bsin watch the replays of all his rides yesterday - notice the difference in his posture in the grade 1 from the other races - he must have got some painkiller before the race - lopresti would be wise to change jocks.
Tom Gregory More than 1 year ago
plus prior to the grade 1 he was 1 for 28 at Belmont and of course he's been getting good horses - something is amiss with him
ghost2_ More than 1 year ago
You sure seem smart now! /sarcasm
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
People think I hate wise dan, if I owned wise dan i would do the same. My issue is horse of the year what horse in Bc era or even before won horse of the year with his primary distance being a mile, favorite trick does not count because he was a two year old. Kotashaan won Bc turf mile and a half, and there was s $269 winner of the classic. Fort larned was no arcangues and little mike won the three biggest turf races of the year, if Charismatic can win hoy starting season in claiming ranks why can't illhaveanother he had better form and class.
Edward Wright More than 1 year ago
Like Zenyatta, Wise Dan is oblivious to the pace in front of him, he just bides his time and pounces on the leaders. It doesn't matter if they run six furlongs in 1:09 or 1:15 he'll be there at the end.
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
Like zenyatta, please. He need about ten more and how about win race more than a mmile more often. Really good horse at what he does mile turf, not that important. The worst hoy selection in along time. Mile on the turf is important in Europe not the US. Maybe Canada. Keep him and Z out of same sentence.
therealdubwhite More than 1 year ago
Like Zenyatta when you look at his PPS, he's facing similar allowance quality horses over and over again, the only difference is these people don't mind dropping him down and running him in Grade 2 or Grade 3 races. But again very similar to Zenyatta's connections want to beg for HOY honors. #pathetic.
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
I guess life is sweet is just a allowance horse, smh
AzHorsePlayer More than 1 year ago
The owners have the right to run where they want to run...As far as HOY goes if GOD wins the BC Classic he wins HOY regardless of what Wise Dan does in his next two races and it won't even be close
Jaime Dubyna More than 1 year ago
Why don't they run GOD at a mile on the turf, take him out of his comfort zone. See how he does???
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
The botton line a turf miler should not win horse of the year. As importance goes by division it is triple crown chace, 3up dirt route, F&M dirt route, 3up turf route, sprint. Game on dude running on turf, silly, people don't knock dan because he wont run on dirt it is the distance and class, hoy should not be running for 150k. Dude is also a gelding and you don't see him running in the alysheba. If he would run arl million win then run in bc mile I would have no problem with horse of the year, if dude or orb did not win classic
therealdubwhite More than 1 year ago
1 reason is that the miniature purses that WD runs for would be 4th place money in the HWGC or Pacific Classic. How about Wise Dan run at over 9 furlongs for the first time ever?
Billy Spathanas More than 1 year ago
I would definitely agree with you with owners running there horses where they want. And yes Game on Dude with a victory in the Classic guarentees him HOY honor. Without it and if Wise Dan wins at Woodbine and his BC run, it will give him his 2nd HOY....
Jason Kassa More than 1 year ago
I may key Riding the River in trifectas 2nd and 3rd. I just hope Dimension and Excaper run their race up front, and don't show Wise Dan too much respect, by slowing it down.
B More than 1 year ago
All of this talk about Wise Dan being a gelding and the owner/trainer doing the right thing. Isn't Game on Dude a gelding with an owner/trainer doing what they think is the right thing for their horse too? And all of this talk coming from both sides about how either Dude should run the grass against Dan and Dan should run in the Classic against Dude is idiotic. Wise Dan is a mile grass specialist and Game on Dude is a distance dirt specialist. The two will never meet, so give up on this pointless finger pointing as to who is wrong in not facing the other. Neither is wrong. They are both doing what they think is best for their horses and apparently they are both correct as neither has lost a race this year, however advantage to Game on Dude simply because he is running and winning some of our most prestigious & historic races.
jttf More than 1 year ago
so how do you explain how game on dude just won by 8 lengths in a grade 1 race on synthetic ? everyone was saying that game on dude could not win on synthetic before the pacific classic victory. if he run on synthetic, surely he can run turf.
tim blake More than 1 year ago
No one was saying that before the Pacific Classic. No one. I realize you probably just want to argue with people but it helps to stay within walking distance of reality. Watch replays of the last couple of Hollywood Gold Cups if you are still unsure.
Perl More than 1 year ago
why would game on dude run on turf for less $? Makes no sense.
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
Well said perl. All I have ever said is try Arlington million, dubai duty free. Like the horse, but hoy no way. Changing surfaces and stretching out two different issue, how silly is that. Who is asking dan to run in classic that is silly. Point of entry's scratch on derby day really let me down. Dan would of been in hot water.
Vinod Jhangimal More than 1 year ago
Beautifully said Mr.B. I am one of the few who said if you want WD to run on dirt at 10f, then why not run GOD at a mile on turf. I said it not because I want GOD to run on turf but so that people understand that you can't ask one thing while not accepting it be asked of you as well. What's good for the goose..........
jttf More than 1 year ago
dimension is on the improve. if he breaks better than usual, will be most likely the 2nd best horse. wise dan is the hoy and has already won graded stakes races on all three surfaces. wise dan has traveled from the west coast to east coast and canada. game on dude is one who should try turf for the first time and take on the king.
B More than 1 year ago
"Only facing a five horse field". Not WD's fault, but it sounds awfully familiar and not terribly exciting and definitely not worth going to the windows for. If somehow he should lose to one of these Sunday (not likely to happen), he loses all chance for HOY even if he wins the BC Mile. A horse who only races a few times against small and mediocre fields and only at a mile on the grass needs to be perfect to win HOY along with needing all the other major competition failing which I think only refers to Game on Dude and Royal Delta at this point in time. Personally, I think Game On Dude has already done enough to win HOY regardless of what WD does in his last two races this year, but I don't get to vote and if Game On Dude does win the Classic, it doesn't matter what any other horse in the country does.
Randy Baker More than 1 year ago
Exactly,if dude wins the classic he's hoy easily.the classic will carry more weight.wise Dan would have to break the world record in the mile
Meydan Rocks More than 1 year ago
LOL EddySealy me ole pal - WD is a gelding. His owner isn't running around beating his chest about how good WD is. WD is a gelding. No breeding future. What would you do Mr Rockerfeller! ;-)) Have you ever made a cool million in one calander year? I hear it feels good. Let WD's owner cash in a few checks will ya? :-))
mikey More than 1 year ago
as the industry go unnoticed and dries up.....
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
Meydan, of course you're right about making this same point yet again. However, his argument wasn't about making money with a gelding, it was about claim to horse of the year. And, if you don't think they want it, you're wrong. So, you're calling him out and beating him up for the wrong thing.
Ann More than 1 year ago
WIse Dan backed into the HoY title last year because the senior dirt divisions were muddled. 3yo colts are muddled this year, east coast older horses are muddled, 3yo and older females are not muddled. It differs from year to year.
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
Of course, but there is nothing you said that has anything to do with my reply to Meydan.
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
Horse Cents you are right it about claim of horse of the year, no turf miler deserves it, this is not Europe, without looking it up these people can not name the winner of rhe first bc mile or winnner before goldikovas streak. I can't. IHA, fort larned, little mike and royal delta either one of those would of been better choice. IMO
Billy Spathanas More than 1 year ago
Wise Dan is 1 badass Grade 1-2 or 3 race horse ! Regardless of what you gambling fools think, Owner / Trainer are doing the best thing for there horse. If he gets the job done at Woodbine this weekend and does it again come BC , wherever he goes and stays undefeated. Personally, I would love to see WD switch to dirt for the Classic , but really Why ? He would be a major player to repeat for HOY. The only other to beat him for that top honor would have to be a undefeated Game on Dude for 2013........... Sorry to all you fools.
mikey More than 1 year ago
Wow just took a peek to see how many comment for the hoy that is about to run. The connections taking easy money, cannot blame them. But who are really the fools?
EddySealy More than 1 year ago
This guy is an idiot...this horse is beating up on a bunch of grade 3 horses and you think that he should winHOY? If WD is that good then put him on the dirt and beat the best horses in America and then he will have a case..
jay More than 1 year ago
I'm not saying that Wise Dan should be HOY, but why does a horse have to run on dirt to be considered great? Most of the best horses in the world are strictly turf horses.
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
Jay he has to run classic distance at least, sometimes, and win some times turf is ok. Just stretch him out every now and then
Jerry Chasin More than 1 year ago
You are the fool here, Sealy. That would be like Fink and LoPresti complaining about a dirt horse winning HOY and telling that owner to come and face Wise Dan on grass. He has beaten a ton of good European horses last year and this. WD haters continue to complain about every stupid thing, making little or no sense.
B More than 1 year ago
And Game On Dude haters do the exact same thing.
Jerry Chasin More than 1 year ago
Where in my reply did I mention Game On Dude? Did you read something into what I stated, which was never meant? They are 2 completely different horses that will, and should, never meet. Dude should win if they met on dirt, likewise for WD if they met on turf. Everyone seems to blame WD for running in races with less horses entered like that is HIS fault.
Billy Spathanas More than 1 year ago
What guy ?