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Updated on 09/19/2012 12:10PM
Woodbine: Wise Dan connects as Woodbine Mile heavy favorite
By Ron Gierkink
ETOBICOKE, Ontario — Heavily-favored Wise Dan won the $1 million Woodbine Mile in dominating fashion on Sunday, paying his way to the Breeders’ Cup in the process.
With John Velazquez aboard, Wise Dan had a lovely stalking trip behind front-runners Worthadd and Artic Fern in the Grade 1 stakes. He split them late on the turn, and then drew away to prevail by 3 ¼ lengths, in 1:34.07 over the firm ground.
Hunters Bay, who was trying the turf for the first time, finished second at 13-1. The English runner Cityscape was a prominent third as the 3-1 second choice, and Riding the River rallied belatedly from last for fourth. He was followed by Dance And Dance, Big Band Sound, Worthadd, Hollinger, and Artic Fern.
It was a record-breaking third win in the race for Velazquez, and the second victory in a row in the Woodbine Mile for trainer Charlie Lopresti, who sent out Turallure to prevail last year.
“What a nice horse,” said Velazquez. “The way he does things, it’s incredible. It’s nice to be on him. The more he races, he’s learned to allow me to get him back a little bit and relax behind horses. When he does that, he’s a much better horse. Today, he broke out of there, and I got him back a little bit. When those two horses went, he relaxed really well behind them. I was very happy with the way he was doing it.”
Wise Dan returned $3.10 to win.
The Woodbine Mile is a Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In event, and Wise Dan earned a fees-paid trip to the BC in November at Santa Anita.
Owner/breeder Morton Fink said Wise Dan is a possibility for the Grade 1 BC Classic on the dirt, but Lopresti said the BC Mile is a more likely spot for the 5-year-old gelding, who earned $600,000 in the Mile.
“We’ll just see how he comes out of it, and take it from there,” said Lopresti. “I think he’s better on synthetic and turf, I honestly do. This race was pretty impressive. I don’t think horses make the lead that early and just keep going the way he did.”
Lopresti didn’t rule out running Wise Dan back in the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile on Oct. 6 at Keeneland, before going to California.
Grass I tend to agree. Why not throw him in the Classic just for the halibut! The way things are going the BC Classic will end up with about 8 or 9 runners and with a field equivalent to a Grade III event. So, since Dan doesnt have to be supplemented, why not send him to SA?! He loves to run, he wont be shunted off to the shedrows and his owner will get the thrill of a lifetime. So its all gravy!
It is a very difficult choice but the right Breeders' Cup race for Wise Dan should be the Classic! Here are the reasons: 1) Once in a lifetime opportunity. His owner/breeder Morton Fink has waited 40 years. He may never get another shot. Wise Dan is a gelding, he will be back next year. If the Classic doesn't work out, try the Mile next year. 2) Distance question answered. Wise Dan is a G1 winner on dirt at Churchill going 9 furlongs, and missed another 9f at Churchill G1 by a head. If a horse can get 9f at Churchill, he should be able to get 9.5 to 10f at the heavy clay content main track at Santa Anita. This is why a borderline 10f horse like Game on Dude is so good at Santa Anita. 3) Surface preference. In my opinion, Wise Dan's best surface is the Keeneland Polytrack. Other than that, I think he is equally as good on dirt as grass. His performance in the 2011 Clark Handicap is equally as impressive as the 2012 Woodbine Mile and the Fourstardave. The 2012 Stephen Foster is not a good gauge of his dirt prowess because: - it was his first start in 10 weeks. He was wide throughout, and did not settle well for Johnny V probably due to the freshness. - the jockeys and trainers ganged up on his in the beginning of the race. Wise Dan was bumped by 4 horses in the first furlong and a half of the race. The opposing trainers/owners/jockeys were offended by Charles Lopresti's arrogance before the race. He was talking about starting either or Wise Dan and Successful Dan, and simply assumed that either one would win the race. This was a rare moment of weirdness by the normally well liked Charlie Lopresti. We should not judge Wise Dan's affinity to dirt route by his performance in the Stephen Foster. His performance in the Clark is a more accurate gauge. 4) competition and rewards. With Excelebration, Moonlight Cloud, Little Mike, Silver Max as potential starter in the Mile, the competition is actually stronger than the Classic in my opinion, and he'll be running for 60% less $$. It does not make sense at all. Wise Dan should sit the perfect trip in the Classic., having developed a great rapport with Johnny V, very tractable. Wise Dan is a faster horse than the frontrunning/pace pressing Game on Dude, To Honor and Serve and Fort Larned, and he will get the jump on the formidable closers like Ron The Greek, Flat Out etc. Mucho Macho Man should also sit a perfect trip like Wise Dan but that horse is prone to find troubles and he's not as fast as Wise Dan anyway. His most accomplished opponent in the Classic is the frontrunning Game on Dude and the hard closing Ron the Greek. However, Game on Dude is slightly distance challenged at 10f and is not as formidable as his pace pressing opponent in the Mile, Excelebration, and Ron the Greek is not as formidable as the closer that Wise Dan would have to hold off in the Mile, Moonlight Cloud who possesses truly exhilarating acceleration while Ron the Greek is more of a relentless stayer.
How much of a difference does it make to race a European horse that is trained to run clockwise in Europe and then change to counter-clock wise in the U.S.? Maybe that is why Game On Dude did not do well in the U.A.E.!
By the way, A BIG thumbs up to Hunters Bay. I picked him in this race (great odds) and he did not disappoint. Look for him to attack the sod for a while.
Horse of the Year debates in September seem rather like a waste of time.
While I have little doubt that Frankel would beat Wise Dan by open lengths if they lined up on a straight turf course in the UK, wouldn't it be nice to see what would happen if they sent Frankel to face Wise Dan in the BC Mile at SA?I know, Frankel is worth a zillion dollars and they don't want to risk him on what they view as somewhat of a bull ring of a course, where it is a tad dangerous if they have a 12-14 horse field and the short run up to the first turn. But wouldn't this be a great test for Frankel, to see just how handy he is and if he can face an entirely new set of circumstances and still blow the field away? Well of course it would be the most exciting race of the weekend.
It was a very nice win by Wise Dan, but the Woodbine Mile is not even in the same league as the Kentucky Derby or the Preakness as far as prestige is concerned. I'll Have Another won two of the most important races in the entire WORLD and has the win in the Grade I Santa Anita Derby and the Grade II Robert Lewis Stakes under his belt as well. He won every race he ran in in 2012, and is still, deservedly so, the top candidate for 3 Year Old of the Year and Horse of the Year.
Anyone check out the results from Louisiana Downs on Sunday? 3 horse won 6 races and came in 2nd in one. Must have been a very good post position that day!
I thought we'd see a horserace... What we saw was a Race Horse race! Thanks Dan.
great performance by wise than im liking him for the breeders cup mile, bookmakers over here fkd up big time the price was 6/4 all day and before the off, fools giving money away, good stuff
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