05/03/2014 5:57PM

Woodford Reserve: Wise Dan fights early and late

Tom Keyser
Wise Dan (outside) surges late to edge Seek Again in the Woodford Reserve.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Wise Dan’s class and consistency led him to win 12 of his first 13 starts on turf, and notch two consecutive Horse of the Year titles in the process.

In winning Saturday’s Grade 1, $559,100 Woodford Reserve at Churchill Downs, he relied on another trait: his heart. Tested by Hollywood Derby winner Seek Again in midstretch, he found enough late to prevail by a head.

“That was the horse I worried about,” said winning trainer Charlie LoPresti. “That was a thriller.”

In contrast to some of Wise Dan’s earlier victories, when he blew the race open with powerful moves coming into the stretch, he was less authoritative in victory.

He gave those that backed him to 1-2 favoritism some worried moments passing the stands for the first time, when he resented restraint from jockey John Velazquez, who sought to rate him off pacesetters Bright Thought and Skyring.

“I had to really fight him,” Velazquez said. “I didn’t want to do that because he threw his head up, but I had no choice.”

Thereafter his trip was smooth. With Velazquez sitting chilly, Wise Dan made a steady three-wide bid on the second turn, and he took the lead shortly after entering the stretch.

But the field was closing in, with the ground-saving Seek Again rallying boldest down along the hedge. And from the eighth pole to the wire, the two battled, with Wise Dan narrowly fending off the runner-up.

“He was definitely tired,” said Velazquez.

Joel Rosario, aboard Seek Again, praised the winner.

“I thought we had him beat,” he said, before adding later, “but he’s Wise Dan, you know?”

Wise Dan, a 7-year-old gelded son of Wiseman’s Ferry owned and bred by Mort Fink, won for the 21st time in 29 starts in the Woodford Reserve, and improved his turf record to 13 victories from 14 starts. He notched his second consecutive victory in the Woodford Reserve following a 4 3/4-length triumph last year.

He raced 1 1/8 miles on firm ground in 1:47.73, paying $3.

 Boisterous, off a bit slowly, rallied from midpack to grab third, a length and a quarter behind the runner-up, edging Kaigun by a nose for the show.

Admiral Kitten, Guys Reward, Moro Tap, Finnegans Wake, Bright Thought, and Skyring completed the order of finish.


Hail No More than 1 year ago
Game as always, but I'd rather see Lezcano on the Champ, JV get's in Dan's way too much, great race..
Cassie Cat More than 1 year ago
Noticed that too, seems to relax more for Lezcano and JV says Dan isn't training as well this year compared to last which is contrary to what LoPresti thinks.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
He's 2 time defending HOTY for a reason
Bustedbox2 More than 1 year ago
I am a huge fan of Wise Dan, but he is seven years old and perhaps he needs a little more time between races. After his phenomenal record over the last two and one-half years, he has earned it and deserves it.
TomN More than 1 year ago
Forego, John Henry, Fourstardave,Kelso, they were all like fine wine, and 'Dan is of that vintage
HRoberish More than 1 year ago
Wise Dan is another John Henry. They just keep on running and keep on WINNING!!!!!!
Charles Lucas More than 1 year ago
sorry the horse raced three weeks ago, ...and the man knows the horse.. shameful comment.
Perl More than 1 year ago
Seek Again is a young and talented euro with a ferocious kick who had a sweet inside run. And Wise Dan just refused to let him win. This is true greatness folks.
Perl More than 1 year ago
Dan is a true treasure. What a remarkable run he's had. He looked dead to rights but refused to lose.
J. Karlo Santos More than 1 year ago
last 3F in 35 and change and last 1/8 in 11 and change. He ran his race and Johnny really only started riding with a little over 1/8 left. I think he didn't see Joel sneak in thru the rail.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Johnny V is determined to get this horse beat! Where are Jerry Baily and Pat Day? You would never/rarely seem them wrangle a horse like that early.
Ian Phillips More than 1 year ago
Yea like pat day got easy goer beat in breeders cup classic.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
hahaha and the Derby and the Preakness. OK. Just Bailey.
Perl More than 1 year ago
Well said.
Bugsy Anderson More than 1 year ago
Ummm JV did nothing wrong. The other riders tried to the RAIL horse. From post one there wasnt much in the way of options.
kimmons2 More than 1 year ago
I think this was the best race he has Run! Shows what Champions are made of when the going gets Tuff and he digs it out!! What a Great Champion he is!!!