09/16/2013 12:47PM

Woodbine: Wise Dan eyes Shadwell Turf Mile as final Breeders' Cup prep

Michael Burns
Wise Dan became the first two-time winner of the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile on Sunday, prevailing by 3 1/2 lengths under John Velazquez.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Wise Dan, winner of the 2012 Woodbine Mile, was hailed as a conquering hero well before the field of six went to the post for Sunday’s Grade 1, $1 million Woodbine Mile. And, fortunately for the faithful, the 6-year-old version of Wise Dan proved to be as good or better than the one previously seen here as he cruised to a 3 1/2-length victory in a track-record time of 1:31.75 under regular rider John Velazquez.

“I don’t know if he’s getting better, but there are no signs that he’s slowing down,” said Charlie LoPresti, who trains the homebred Wise Dan for octogenarian owner Morton Fink.

Wise Dan, as if he needed any assistance, benefited from a favorable draw in post 4 and tracked fast fractions en route to a 108 Beyer Speed Figure, a two-point dip from last year’s Woodbine Mile figure.

The $600,000 winner’s prize boosted Wise Dan’s earnings past the $5 million mark, and he earned a second straight fees-paid berth to the Grade 1, $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita on Nov. 2 through the Win and You’re In program. Wise Dan won that race last year en route to Horse of the Year honors.

Wise Dan vanned back to his Keeneland base Monday morning, and LoPresti said he would consider bringing back his stable star in search of a repeat in Keeneland’s Oct. 5 Shadwell Turf Mile. Wise Dan used last year’s Grade 1, $750,000 Shadwell Turf Mile as a stepping-stone to the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita.

“I’ll see how he comes out of this,” LoPresti said. “Even though it looked so easy, you never know how much a race like that takes out of a horse because of the restraint he’s been under. If I can’t hold him on the ground, or if I really feel like he needs to run there, then that’s the only logical place to run him before the Breeders’ Cup because it’s right in his backyard.

“And the people at Keeneland – that’s our home, and all the fans there in Lexington I know would love to see him run. But I’ll only run him if that’s right for the horse. He’s going to have to tell us. I really don’t think I’m up against a wall because he’s dead fit. I think I have him where he needs to be for the Breeders’ Cup.

“It’s just a matter of do I breeze him or run him? That’s kind of what it was last year. He was doing so well, the [Shadwell Turf Mile] was just a publicly paid workout, really. I hate to sound that way, but that’s just kind of the way he is.”

Za Approval took his best shot in the Woodbine Mile but simply was second-best.

“He ran a really good race,” said Christophe Lorieul, assistant to Za Approval’s trainer, Christophe Clement. “He’s a nice horse. He always tries. It’s always nice to win, but finishing second to Wise Dan in a track record, that’s no shame.”

Za Approval, who is heading back to his Belmont base, is a firm-turf specialist who had shipped to Betfair Hollywood Park and finished second to West Coast divisional leader Obviously in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile in his prior start June 29.

“We’ll bring him back somewhere in California maybe, at some stage,” Lorieul said. “We’ve already scratched him twice in New York because of soft turf. We’ll give him plenty of time. He seems to run back good after a good layoff.”

Trade Storm, who invaded from Europe for trainer David Simcock, rallied to finish third in the Woodbine Mile, 1 1/4 lengths behind Za Approval.

“He was slow away from the gates, but there was a quick pace,” said traveling head lad Ian Russell, who has been here with Trade Storm since last Tuesday. “The winner got away. He’s a very good horse.”

Trade Storm will head back to his Newmarket base Thursday.

“He’ll have a little holiday and will be looking to go back out to Dubai,” Russell said.

Trade Storm raced four times in Dubai last winter, winning two stakes, including the Group 2 Zabeel Mile, and then finishing a close fourth in the Group 1, $5 million Dubai Duty Free.

Riding the River, based here with trainer and co-owner Dave Cotey, was beaten 7 1/4 lengths when finishing fourth behind Wise Dan in the Woodbine Mile for the second consecutive year. The 6-year-old gelding also ran fifth in the 2011 Woodbine Mile, which was won by the LoPresti-trained Turallure.

“I thought he would have fared a little better, but nobody’s going to beat Wise Dan,” Cotey said. “We’ll give him some time now and look at the Labeeb. That would be a nice spot for him.”

The $100,000 Labeeb, an overnight stakes race, is scheduled for one mile on turf here Oct. 19.

◗ The handle for Sunday’s 11-race card was $6,698,099, breaking the record of $6,064,189 set in 2011 and well above the $5,713,186 wagered last year. The handle on the Woodbine Mile itself was $1,522,687 and was bolstered by a show pool of $685,361, with $617,584 of that amount wagered on Wise Dan.