Updated on 05/04/2013 5:06PM

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.

AZ Wildcat More than 1 year ago
Wise Dan has earned the title of great horse.
Damien Thorne More than 1 year ago
Scratch of Poe was garbage. He was still on the betting menu during the race before the woodford. The wagering public deserves better.
jttf More than 1 year ago
no lasix at two years old for wise dan, orb, atigun. all of them improving after the age of 2. point of entry earns a loss for not running.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
A loss? What you saw was a Horseman protecting his Horse.
chembites More than 1 year ago
The easiest way to ruin a horse's record and legacy is to "try to keep him undefeated". You don't adopt that attitude with the best horse in the country. Sometimes the best horse loses, and the best horse is revealed even in defeat.
J.L. Boey More than 1 year ago
Relax. Lopresti knows what he's doing. He simply meant no more dirt sidetracks. He also implied that he was confident that Wise Dan would beat Point of Entry at 9f on any turf condition.
Casey Ennis More than 1 year ago
Can anyone explain the payout of the oaks/reserve/derby payoff Consolation was 300. Worse out pay I can remember. Also went against there own ky racing rules if leg a of a pick 3 is official then any scratch in leg b or leg c will get the post time favorite. Like they did for the pick 4 with the 9. They ruined the pool made the payout awful. Churchill did this ten years ago and refunded a pick 4 when leg b of a pick 4 was scratched that was part of a entry that was 1 to 5. The scratch was the better half. Thus causing a severe odds shift on the race, but not on the pick 4 tickets. They originally refunded the tickets, then halted all tickets and decided to payout the winning numbers and ate what they hate refunded before the halt. Cause they had deemed the pick4 a non bet. Directly against ky racing rules. Which they later changed two months later at a stewards meeting into the mess.
B More than 1 year ago
He's started two times in the past six months and he won't race again until August! Another 6 race year if we are lucky. Sigh. I want to see the good ones run. I was just born in the wrong era. This is still considered a sport, isn't it?
chembites More than 1 year ago
There is no such thing as sport anymore, only dry and boring business.
chairmanwong0 More than 1 year ago
40% of the show pool and I still get 10% roi. I love this game.
Robert Smith More than 1 year ago
Look it shouldnt be a surprise at how good a horseman Lopresti is. Send him some good young stock and he win the derby one day.
Hadrian Marcus More than 1 year ago
Good job by Wise Dan, pleasant surprise with Optimizer.
richard cowles More than 1 year ago
I don't get it? Whats the surprise with optimizer? Officially declared unprepared for the start.Must bedifferent rules in kentucky,at a certain track in n.y. in august they will declare a non runner and refund for starts like this...Of course at there discretion.lol
B More than 1 year ago
That the heavens above for Orb. After the disappointment of the Oaks and POE being scratched, it was beginning to look like one of those "big" weekends that one just wants to forget. Thank you Shug. Orb looks like a true champ, but time will tell.