Updated on 05/04/2013 6:06PM

Woodford Reserve Turf Classic: Wise Dan wins his sixth in a row

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John Bambury
Wise Dan (left) mounts his bid outside Optimizer (center) and Silver Max entering the stretch of the Woodford Reserve.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – A marquee matchup pitting reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan and crack turf horse Point of Entry failed to materialize Saturday in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs, following the midafternoon scratch of Point of Entry due to a wet turf course.

But Wise Dan did his best to still make the Grade 1, $546,400 Woodford Reserve memorable on the Kentucky Derby undercard, dominating in a 4 3/4-length win over Optimizer.

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Racing over a yielding course softened by steady afternoon rain, Wise Dan was well placed throughout, racing comfortably in third early under Jose Lezcano as Silver Max set the pace with splits of 48.51 seconds and 1:13.18 in the 1 1/8-mile Woodford Reserve. Wise Dan always seemed poised to catch the leader as well as Optimizer, who was tracking the pace.

Coming into the stretch, that is exactly what he did. Under mild urging from Lezcano, Wise Dan surged past the two leaders and drew away from Optimizer with each stride.

The victory, Wise Dan's sixth in a row, drew an immediate first pump from trainer Charlie Lopresti, who watched the race on the jumbo television in the Churchill Downs paddock. He said there is a lot of pressure on him and his staff to have Wise Dan, the 2012 Breeder’s Cup Mile winner, show that he was deserving of the three Eclipse Awards the horse won last year.

“He had to come back and redeem himself, and I think there is no doubt after today that he is the horse we put away from the Breeders’ Cup,” Lopresti said.

Wise Dan, a 6-year-old gelded son of Wiseman’s Ferry owned and bred by Mort Fink, raced 1 1/8 miles in 1:51.84. He paid $3.20 as the overwhelming favorite.

Lopresti said he was disappointed Wise Dan didn’t get the opportunity to run against Point of Entry, a four-time Grade 1 winner on turf who had been the second favorite behind Wise Dan on the morning line before being scratched.

Optimizer, who twice won over wet turf courses at Fair Grounds this winter, performed well in defeat. He finished 1 3/4 lengths in frpnt of longshot Middie in third.

Silver Max, Bim Bam, Slim Shadey, and Jeranimo completed the order of finish. Swift Warrior joined Point of Entry as a scratch.

Lopresti said Wise Dan likely wouldn’t run until the summer meet at Saratoga, provided Wise Dan’s half-brother and stablemate Successful Dan remains on target to start in the June 15 Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs, a Grade 1 dirt race in which Wise Dan was second last year.

“I just want to keep him undefeated this year,” Lopresti said of Wise Dan.