09/17/2012 12:51PM

Woodbine: Wise Dan heads home after Mile victory; Shadwell at Keeneland may be next

Michael Burns
Wise Dan gives jockey John Velazquez his third Woodbine Mile victory.

ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Winning the Woodbine Mile is far from a routine task, as evidenced by the fact that the Grade 1, $1 million turf race has established itself as a key prep for the Breeders’ Cup Mile. But Wise Dan made it look fairly easy here this past Sunday, cruising to a 3 1/4-length win to give trainer Charlie Lopresti his second straight victory in the Woodbine Mile following the success last year of Turallure.

“He’s done everything right since he won at Saratoga,” said Lopresti, who had penciled in the Woodbine Mile for Wise Dan after sending out the 5-year-old to score by an emphatic five lengths in Saratoga’s Grade 2 Fourstardave over one mile on turf Aug. 11.

Wise Dan’s Woodbine Mile win earned the gelding an automatic berth, with entry fees paid and $10,000 in travel expenses, in the Grade 1, $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita on Nov. 3. Court Vision, winner of the 2010 Woodbine Mile, defeated Turallure by a nose in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile.

The Grade 1, $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic over 1 1/4 miles of dirt also is a possibility for Wise Dan, but Lopresti’s early lean would appear to be toward the Mile.

“He’s won going a mile and an eighth on the dirt, but I don’t know if he can win going a mile and a quarter,” said Lopresti, who trains the homebred Wise Dan for Morton Fink.

“He has a high cruising speed, and I feel that his action is better on synthetics and grass.”

Wise Dan checked out of Woodbine early Monday morning, heading back to his Keeneland base.

“I’m just glad he came out of the race well, and ran as well as he did,” said Lopresti before catching his flight home on Monday morning.

“I’ll give him an easy week, just like he had after the Fourstardave. If he bounces back quickly, there’s a chance that maybe he’d run in the Shadwell Mile.”

Keeneland’s Shadwell Turf Mile, a Grade 1 race worth $750,000, will be run on Oct. 6.

“All we’d have to do is take him over there,” said Lopresti. “Keeneland has been good to us, and we like to support Keeneland.

“But, he could go straight to the Breeders’ Cup. He’s proved that we can space his races.”

Wise Dan, who was giving jockey John Velazquez his third Woodbine Mile win, earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 107.

Hunters Bay shines in turf debut

Hunters Bay, based here with trainer Reade Baker, turned in a remarkable performance by finishing second in the Woodbine Mile without a race or previous workout on the turf.

Under his regular rider, Emma-Jayne Wilson, who recorded her 1,000th career victory in the Sunday opener, Hunters Bay was no match for Wise Dan but outfinished Group 1 winner Cityscape by a length for second money.

Baker, who trains the 5-year-old homebred for Frank Stronach, could have worked Hunters Bay over the turf training track but does not believe that prepping over that seven-furlong surface bears much relation to racing over the E.P. Taylor course.

“If you work him on that other course, you don’t learn anything,” said Baker, who did send out Hunters Bay to gallop on the main turf course in order to experience the unfamiliar surroundings.

Hunters Bay, who had won the Grade 3 Eclipse and the Grade 3 Dominion Day over the main course at the current meeting, will be heading straight to the Breeders’ Cup Mile.

Juveniles eye Cup spots

I’m Boundtoscore and Spring Venture, respective winner’s of last Saturday’s Grade 2 Summer and Grade 2 Natalma stakes for 2-year-olds over one mile on turf, should be taking advantage of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Win and You’re In terms and heading for Santa Anita.

Troy Rankin, who sent out I’m Boundtoscore for a front-running upset in the $251,000 Summer, could bring back the colt in Keeneland’s Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity on Oct. 6 or Grade 3 Bourbon on Oct. 7.

The Breeders’ Futurity, worth $400,000, will be run over 1 1/16 miles on Polytrack and is a Win and You’re In race for the Nov. 2 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at 1 1/16 miles on the dirt.

Spring Venture, a highly impressive winner of the Natalma, and her stablemate Spring in the Air delivered a one-two finish for trainer Mark Casse in the $262,900 Natalma.

“I think both fillies are good enough for the Breeders’ Cup, but they’ll probably need another start before.”

Casse has selected the Grade 3, $200,000 Mazarine, a 1 1/16-mile race for 2-year-old fillies here Oct. 6, as Spring Venture’s tentative target.

Spring in the Air could resurface in Keeneland’s Grade 1, $400,000 Alcibiades, a 1 1/6-mile race for 2-year-old fillies on Oct. 5. The Alcibiades is a Win and You’re in for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at 1 1/16 miles on the dirt.

Handle down on big day

The handle on Sunday‘s 11-race Woodbine Mile program was $5,713,176, a decrease of 6 percent from last year’s Woodbine Mile Day record $6,064,189

Handle on the Woodbine Mile itself was down by almost 24 per ent, from $1,506,064 to $1,215,545. There were 11 horses in the 2011 edition and nine this year, with Wise Dan going off at 55 cents to the dollar.