Wise Dan is turning out to be good enough and versatile enough that trainer Charles Lopresti doesn't know what to do with him.
The 5-year-old Wisemans Ferry gelding cruised to victory in Saturday's $500,000, Grade II Fourstardave over the Saratoga turf, finishing 5 lengths ahead of his closest rival. That gives him graded stakes wins over turf, dirt and all-weather tracks.
So what now?
"He can go wherever," Lopresti said Sunday. "In two and a half, three weeks, we'll breeze him on the dirt here. He's starting to like the dirt track here, and we could look at the Woodward. It's not a 'Win and You're In' race for the Breeders' Cup, but it's not all about 'Win and You're In.'" The Woodward is a $750,000, Grade I on Sept. 1 at 9 furlongs on the main track.
Lopresti said a pair of turf races -- the Grade II Bernard Baruch at 1 1/16 miles on the turf on Sept. 1 and the $1 million (Canadian) Woodbine Mile on the grass on Sept. 16 -- also are options.
That leaves open Breeders' Cup options ranging from the Turf Mile to the 1 1/4-miles Classic, with an obvious eye on the wide-open Horse of the Year competition.
"He ran a great race in the Stephen Foster (Grade I on the Churchill Downs main track). Just got beat a head. No disgrace," Lopresti said. I think if he can win a Grade I on the dirt, people will start to recognize this horse as one of the top horses on the East coast. Not too many horses can win on synthetic, grass, and a Grade I on the dirt."
In the Fourstardave, jockey John Velazquez celebrated his Friday induction into the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame by riding Wise Dan confidently to the easy win. After drafting in behind the leaders, Wise Dan needed room at the furlong pole, found a hole when pacesetter Get Stormy drifted out and quickly was in command.
Corporate Jungle finished with interest to take second and Get Stormy held third. Wise Dan ran the 1 mile on the yielding inner turf course in 1:37.30.
"On the backstretch, I wasn't sure if he was going to get there or get bogged down in the inside," Lopresti said. "But Johnny said he was never worried."
The international scene:
FRANCE: Excelebration, without Frankel among the opposition, won Sunday's Group 1 Prix du Haras de Fresnay-le-Buffard-Jacques le Marois like the outstanding horse he is. Christophe Soumillon stepped in on short notice to sub for jockey Ryan Moore, who was unseated earlier in the card. No problem. The 4-year-old Exceed and Excel colt stuck close to the pace, then came out for running room and led with a furlong to run. With Cityscape and Elusive Kate chasing, Excelebration ran on to win by 1 1/4 lengths, finishing the 1 mile on good going in 1:34.60. The filly Moonlight Cloud, who just missed catching Black Caviar at Ascot, ran fourth while coming back on one week's rest after a victory in the Prix Maurice de Gheest. Although it was only his second win at the Group 1 level, Excelebration, handled by Aidan O'Brien, gets full marks for the four times he has played second fiddle to Frankel in top-level races. Moore's injury was not judged serious.
O'Brien's charges completed the Group 1 double when Pedro the Great captured Sunday's Keeneland Phoenix Stakes for 2-year-olds at the Curragh. Taken to the lead with more than a furlong to travel, the Henry the Navigator colt ran on well to win by 2 3/4 lengths under Seamie Heffernan. Leiter Mor was second and Lottie Dod third. O'Brien's main chance in the race, Cristoforo Colombo, clipped heels and went down while racing on the stand side. Neither he nor jockey Joseph O'Brien appeared seriously injured. Pedro the Great was winning for the second time in four starts after getting home fifth in the Railway Stakes on June 30. Heffernan said he feels the colt should be able to go longer than Sunday's 6 furlongs.
Galileo's Choice swept to the lead turning into the stretch in Thursday's Ballyroan Stakes at Leopardstown and ran on to the win, holding off Massiyn by 1 1/2 lengths. The filly Bible Belt finished third and globetrotting Treasure Beach could manage only a fourth in a race billed as his warmup for the Aug. 18 Arlington Million. Galileo's Choice, a 6-year-old son of Galileo, ran the 1 1/2 miles over good to soft turf in 2:34.82 with Patrick Smullen up. He won for the sixth time in 12 career starts and trainer Dermot Weld said he sees the Irish St Leger and the Melbourne Cup in the horse's future. Treasure Beach won last summer's Grade I Secretariat Stakes for 3-year-olds at Arlington but has not won since. In the year, trainer Aidan O'Brien has had him collecting frequent flyer miles with trips to France, Canada, Dubai, Hong Kong and New York.
GERMANY: Temida upset Sunday's Group 1 Wettkontur Munchen-Grosser Preis von Bayern, leading with 2 furlongs to run and winning off by 2 lengths after 11/2 miles of hard turf. Feuerblitz, winner of the Italian Derby, finished second under Andreas Suborics and the favorite, Earl of Tinsdal, finished third after setting the early pace. Atempo broke down turning for home and was euthanized. Temida, a 4-year-old Oratorio filly, won for the third time in nine starts but the first time at Group 1 level. Trainer Miltcho Mintchev said she will have one more race, possibly the Grosser Preis von Baden.
ENGLAND: "The Rest of the World" team won Saturday's Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup jockey challenge at Ascot with 89 points as against 55 for Team Europe, 54 for "The Girls" and 46 for Great Britain & Ireland. Hong Kong riding star Matthew Chadwick, successful in the final race, the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup Sprint, on Mince, won the Silver Saddle award for being the leading jockey with 45 points. His victory was also judged the ride of the day. The winning team also included Yutaka Take from Japan and Aaron Gryder from the United States. "The attendance is our biggest crowd outside Royal Ascot," said Nick Smith, head of communications and international racing for Ascot. "It was particularly good to see the 'Rest of the World' team break the Great Britain and Ireland stranglehold. And, remarkably, two of their jockeys had never ridden at Ascot before," said Nick Smith, Ascot's Head of Communications & International Racing. Chantal Sutherland, part of "The Girls" team, was handed a four-day suspension for excessive (by British rules) use of her whip and California stewards Sunday were looking at whether that could jeopardize her ability to ride Game On Dude in next weekend's $1 million, Grade I Pacific Classic. Thanks for visiting England, Chantal!
Breeders' Cup divisions:
Saturdays' $200,000 Governor's Cup at Remington Park promised to be a good one and it lived up to the promise. Alternation and Prayer for Relief hooked up in a ding-dong duel for just about the whole 9 furlongs and, at the wire, it was Alternation by a very narrow nose. It was another 6 1/4 lengths back to Get in Da House third. Alternation, with Luis Quinonez up, finished in 1:49.27 over a fast track. Alternation now has five wins from six starts this year, with the only miss a fifth-place finish in the Grade I Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs -- behind the likes of Ron the Greek and Wise Dan. Prayer for Relief, meanwhile, has not lived up to the promise he showed last year in winning the Iowa Derby, West Virginia Derby and Super Derby in succession. In seven starts this year, he has yet to find the winner's circle with two seconds and three thirds. "I thought it was a tremendous effort tonight," said winning trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel. "We gave six pounds to the horse we almost got beat by. It was a big effort by both horses. To go the last eighth of a mile in 12 seconds flat, that's racehorse right there."
Wine Princess led from the early going in Saturday's $100,000, Grade III Monmouth Oaks and extended the lead through the stretch to win by 2 1/4 lengths. Proud Pearl and Jemima's Pearl strung together the bottom spots of the trifecta. Wine Princess, who now has three wins from five starts, has the breeding to be a good one. She is by Ghostzapper, who was enshrined in the Hall of Fame Friday, out of the champion mare Azeri, also a Hall of Famer. Both Ghostzapper and Azeri are former "Horse of the Year" honorees. "We couldn't be more proud of her," said winning trainer Steve Margolis. "She was a little slow to come around, but with her pedigree we always knew that if she stayed healthy she had tons of potential."
Salty Strike led most of the way in Saturday's $100,000, Grade III Gardenia Stakes at Ellis Park with Joyful Victory hard on her heels. And that's how they finished, with Salty Strike out front by 1 1/4 lengths. Ridgester finished third. Salty Strike, a 4-year-old Smart Strike filly, ran the 1 mile on a fast track in 1:36.81 with Victor Lebron up.
In Saturday's $125,000 Evangeline Mile, Heavy On Themister led the way and the odds-on favorite, Apart, just missed with a late run, finishing a neck in arrears. Sweetsouthernmoon was 5 1/2 lengths farther back in third. Heavy On Themister, with Tracy Herbert up, ran the 1 mile on a fast track in 1:36.38. The 4-year-old Lion Tamer gelding now has missed the exacta only once in his last nine races. Apart posted his best finish of 2012 after getting home fifth and sixth in graded stakes at Churchill Downs and Lone Star Park.
As noted in this weekend's advance story, My Miss Aurelia made a successful comeback in Wednesday's $100,000 Mandy's Gold Stakes at Saratoga and appears poised to defend her undefeated record during the second half of this year's season.
Winter Memories was suddenly and unexpectedly retired this past week when precautionary X-rays discovered a degenerative bone disease. The recent winner of the Grade I Diana Stakes at Saratoga will be returned to Darby Dan Farm to join the broodmare band, including her dam Memories of Silver, which produced her. "The irony," said owner John Phillips, "is I don't think I've ever been around a more sound horse ... Winter Memories represents five generations of horses for Darby Dan and we cannot and will not risk their safety." Breeding plans were not immediately set for the 4-year-old, who won seven graded stakes in her 12-race career.
Quick Wit engaged the front-running favorite, Csaba, in the stretch run of Friday's $100,000, Grade II National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes for 3-year-olds and got the better of that match by a nose. Speaking of noses, Daddy Nose Best finished well back in third. Quick Wit, a Sharp Humor colt, ran the 1 1/16 miles on a sloppy and sealed track in 1:51.95 with Rajiv Maragh aboard. The race was moved off the turf. "This horse has form on the dirt," said winning trainer Dale Romans, noting Quick Wit broke his maiden on dirt at Gulfstream Park and finished third in the Grade 2 Hutcheson Stakes there. "I thought if it came off, he might have a better chance. It was just a matter of if he would move up. He has steadily improved and gotten better and better."
Old Time Hockey just nailed pacesetting My Best Brother on the wire in Saturday's $150,000, Grade II La Jolla Handicap for 3-year-olds at Del Mar, winning by a nose. Chips All and Blingo completed the order of finish. Old Time Hockey, a Smarty Jones gelding out of the A.P. Indy mare Grat, ran the 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:40.55 with Joe Talamo at the controls. The winner had finished third to My Best Brother in the second division of the Oceanside Stakes on July 18, beaten 2 lengths. "Our horse has been improving each race and doing well," said winning trainer Tom Proctor. "If everything's good we'll look at the (Del Mar) Derby next. We'll see."
Filly & Mare Turf
City to City out-finished All Star Heart in the final strides of Sunday's $250,000, Grade II John C. Mabee Stakes, winning by a nose over that rival. Pacesetter Go Forth North finished 1 1/4 lengths farther back in third, followed by Cambina, Imperialistic Diva and the favorite, Nereid, who finished last. City to City, a 5-year-old City Zip mare zipped the 9 furlongs over firm turf in 1:46.50 with Corey Nakatani aboard. It was the first win for City to City since the Grade II Buena Vista at Santa Anita in February -- a string that included four straight off-the-board finishes. "She's been going up against some things that really don't suit her," said winning trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. "She's been going longer distances and against really tough competition. Today was perfect. It couldn't have been any better."
Alsvid rallied four-wide around the leaders in Saturday's $100,000 David M. Vance Sprint Stakes at Remington Park and went on to win by 1 1/4 lengths over Okie Ride. The favorite, Apprehender, led through the early furlongs and held on for third. Alsvid, a 3-year-old Officer gelding, ran the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:08.78 for jockey Chris Landeros. He won two stakes events at Prairie Meadows earlier this year before finishing fifth in the Iowa Derby, won by Hansen.
Nechez Dawn led the way in Friday's $85,000 Daisycutter Handicap for fillies and mares at Del Mar and held on to post the upset win by 1/2 length over Missdealornodeal. Madoffwiththemoney finished third and the favorite, Mega Dream, was fourth. Nechez Dawn, a 3-year-old Indian Charlie filly, ran the 5 furlongs on firm turf in 55.99 seconds with Edwin Maldonado in the irons.
Spurious Precision drew off sharply in the stretch run to win Sunday's $200,000, Grade II Saratoga Special, winning by 5 lengths, virtually eased at the end. He's So Fine came from last of six to place and In Harm's Way finished third. The morning-line favorite, undefeated Shanghai Bobby, was scratched Sunday morning with what trainer Todd Pletcher described as a 103-degree fever. Spurious Precision, a High Cotton colt out of the Scarlet Ibis mare Scarlet Combo, ran the 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:16.53 with Alan Garcia along for the ride. He now is 2-for-2, with both wins at the Spa. "He's the real deal," said winning trainer Rick Violette. "He's got a serious pump and he'll go a long way. I think two turns is well within his scope. He's obviously got plenty of tactical speed and he's a pretty good horse to have in the barn." Violette said he will wait for the Grade I Champagne at Belmont on Oct. 6 for Spurious Precision's next start.
Pletcher had planned to start both Shanghai Bobby and Drum Roll in the Special for different owners. Drum Roll finished fourth, missing the board by just a head. "It seems more and more challenging to keep them apart as there seems to be fewer 2-year-old stake opportunities," Pletcher said in discussing his multiple entries. "You just need to do what is best for each individual horse and their owners and sometimes that means running them together." Most trainers would love such problems.
It would be a dirty rotten shame if you didn't have Dirty Rotten Shame on top in Saturday's $60,000 Prairie Meadows Juvenile Mile -- especially if you DID have 85-1 shot Sunshine Warrior on an exacta ticket. They finished that way, both coming from off the pace, with American Sugar filling out a lucrative trifecta. The favorite, Sir Pulpit, was never involved and finished next-last of nine. Dirty Rotten Shame, with Glenn Corbett aboard, finished in 1:41.51 on a fast track as things slowed down dramatically in the stretch run.
Zeewat rallied to the lead on the inside in the late going of Sunday's $75,000 Cavonnier Juvenile Stakes at Santa Rosa and kicked clear to win by 2 1/2 lengths over Condiment. My Best Bet was third and the odds-on favorite, Anytime Magic, finished last of five. Zeewat, a Harlan's Holiday colt, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:12.33 with Russell Baze up for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.
Kauai Katie, the odds-on favorite, romped home in Sunday's $200,000, Grade II Adirondack Stakes at Saratoga, winning by 2 3/4 lengths in a hand ride. Salamara was second and Fully Living finished third. Kauai Katie, a Malibu Moon filly, ran the 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:16.81 with Rosie Napravnik up. Todd Pletcher trains the winner, who remains undefeated in two tries. She broke her maiden with a 12-lengths win at the Spa on July 20. Pletcher said he will juggle his fillies, too. "We'll let the dust settle and talk to the connections and come up with a game plan," he said. "They're fortunate they have at least three really nice fillies, so we'll have to look at that."
Sweet Redemption, an Indiana-bred filly making her first start, was up in the final yards to win Saturday's $125,000 (Canadian) Ontario Debutante by a neck over the ironically named Just Got In. Lady Bear finished third. Sweet Redemption, a daughter of D'Wildcat out of the Silver Deputy mare Sliver of Silver, ran the 6 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:11.02 for jockey Luis Contreras. "It's always a leap of faith when you put a first-time starter in a 150-grander," said winning trainer Greg de Gannes. "But it all worked out."
Funfair, in from New York for trainer Christophe Clement, drew off in the stretch run to win Sunday's $60,000 Colleen Stakes at 5 furlongs over the Monmouth Park grass. Funfair, a More Than Ready filly, won by 3 1/4 lengths over the Todd Pletcher trainee I Am Discreet. Doubled was third at a price. Funfair, with Joe Bravo in the irons, finished in 56.68 seconds.
Unusual Way won Saturday's $75,000 Wine Country Debutante at Santa Rosa by an unusual margin -- 11 lengths. Black Oak was the best of the rest with the favorite, Marks Mine, settling for third. Unusual Way, a daughter of Unusual Heat, finished the 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:11.58 with Omar Figueroa riding. She broke her maiden at first asking at Hollywood Park in May, then finished up the track in the Cinderella and Landaluce Stakes at that oval for trainer Jeff Bonde.
Blazing Bling took on the boys in Saturday's $50,000 Hoover Stakes for Ohio-bred juveniles at River Downs and came up glittering, a 2-lengths winner. Urban Renewal and Pyrite Green completed the trifecta. Blazing Bling, a daughter of Too Much Bling out of the Salt Lake mare Cruise Liner, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:12.57 for Deshawn Parker. It was her second straight win following a pair of place finishes.
As noted in the advance, Executiveprivilege copped Wednesday's $150,000, Grade III Sorrento Stakes at Del Mar and appears to be the class of the West Coast 2-year-old filly field.
My Jopia surged to the lead in the stretch in Thursday's $100,000 Statue of Liberty Division of the New York Stallion Stakes for 3-year-old fillies and held on to win by a nose over an onrushing Manero. Hlao Roo finished third and the favorite, Why Take a Chance, was fourth. My Jopia, a daughter of Utopia, ran the 1 mile over the firm inner turf course in 1:36.88 with Ramon Dominguez up.
Sportswriter (be still, my heart!) rallied late to catch odds-on favorite King Kreesa and win Wednesday's $100,000 Cab Calloway Division of the NYSS for 3-year-olds by a well-authored neck. Sleepy Freud finished third. Sportswriter, a Mabry's Boy gelding out of the Point Given mare Point Spread, ran the 1 mile on the firm inner turf in 1:35.67 for jockey Javier Castellano.
Suntracer poked a nose in front of pacesetting Mr. Mischief at the line in Saturday's $100,000 Illinois Owners Stakes. Princeville Condo, always in the mix, finished third. Suntracer, a 4-year-old Kitten's Joy colt, ran the 1 1/16 miles on good turf in 1:44.46 with Eddie Perez in the irons.
Peyote Patty stalked the pace in the companion $100,000 Illinois Owners Stakes for fillies and mares, then got by Katie the Lady in the final yards to win by 1/2 length. Cumulonimble finished third and Hooh Why was fourth. Peyote Patty, a 7-year-old Cactus Ridge mare, got home in 1:45.38 under Timothy Thornton.
It's Gail was off a step slow in Sunday's $125,000 (Canadian) Eternal Search Stakes for Ontario-sired 3-year-old fillies but more than made up for it with a stout stretch run that found her 1 3/4 lengths out front at the wire. Blues Dancing made the early pace and finished second, 1 1/4 lengths better than Future Surprise. It's Gail, a Niigon filly out of the French Deputy mare Bob's Choice, ran the 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track in 1:46.37 for jockey Luis Contreras.
Presque Isle Downs
Lotta Lovin got to the front at the quarter pole in Friday's $75,000 Malvern Rose Stakes for Pennsylvania-bred 3-year-old fillies and held on to win by 3/4 length over Appealing Cat. Vanishing was third. Lotta Lovin, a Repent filly, ran 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track in 1:44.09 for jockey Pablo Morales.
Calder Race Course
Cash Rules got by the leaders via the inside route turning for home in Saturday's $55,000 Band Is Passing Stakes and kicked clear to win by 2 1/2 lengths over Numb Lips. Liberty Cap finished third. Cash Rules, a 5-year-old Peace Rules gelding, got the 1 1/16 miles on a sloppy, sealed track in 1:46.26 under Luis Saez.
Things are starting to get serious for Heliskier. The Appealing Skier gelding picked up his sixth win without a loss while trying two turns for the first time in Saturday's $65,000 Minnesota Derby. With Derek Bell up, Heliskier sat behind Sue's Stormy briefly, then went by and said bye-bye, winning off by 13 1/4 lengths over that rival. Tez Virat finished third. Heliskier finished the 1 mile and 70 yards on a fast track in 1:43.08. "There are always a few concerns when you are asking a horse to do something new," said winning trainer Mac Robertson. "However, Derek put him in the perfect position behind the speed and that made it a pretty easy race."
In the $65,000 Minnesota Oaks, Keewatin Ice finished best of all to win by 1 1/2 lengths over Talkin About. Jills Summer finished third. Keewatin Ice, a daughter of Intidab, ran the 1 mile and 70 yards in 1:44.89 with Juan Rivera up.
In Saturday's $50,000 Sadie Hawkins Stakes for West Virginia-bred distaffers, Down Town Allen cleared the early leader, Silver Heart, in the stretch run and won off by 2 1/4 lengths over that rival. Little Shiney finished third. Down Town Allen, a 5-year-old Windsor Castle mare, got the 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:24.69. Presumably, she invited Matthew McGowan to ride.
Withgreatpleasure led the way in Saturday's $60,000 Stonewall Farm Ocala Unbridled Bell Stakes for fillies and mares and held on to win by a nose over Giant Sensation. Daring Reality was well back in third. Withgreatpleasure, a 4-year-old daughter of Hold That Tiger, got 1 mile and 70 yards on a fast track in 1:41.03 with Daniel Centeno in the irons.
Makors Finale led the way in Sunday's $65,000 Emerald Downs Derby, under pressure all the way from Italian Boy. At the end, Makors Finale survived by 1/2 length over that rival with the favorite, D'Honorable One, chugging home third. Makors Finale, a Makors Mark colt, ran 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:48.48 with Rocco Bowen in the irons.
Champagneandcaviar engaged pacesetting favorite Exclusive Diva a furlong out in Saturday's $65,000 Washington Oaks and won the resulting stretch duel by a head. Our Eleanor finished third. Champagneandcaviar, a Van Nistelrooy filly, ran 1 1/8 miles on a fast track in 1:48.75 with Javier Matias up.
The War Department went to the lead in Saturday's $50,000 Vivacious Handicap for state-bred distaffers, turned back a challenge and went on to win by 3/4 length over Aggressive Elegance. The later was set down to fourth for interference, promoting Startin Something and Derby Day Storm into the trifecta. The War Department, a 6-year-old Lost Soldier mare, ran 1 1/16 miles on yielding turf in 1:43.95 under Perry Outz.
Wizardry led from the start in Saturday's $50,000 Aspen Cup Stakes for 3-year-old fillies and won by 1 1/2 lengths over Chilling Command. The favorite, Stop the Spending, and Sunny Stein completed the order of finish. Wizardry, a Teuflesburg filly, finished 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:12.61 with Juan Ochoa in the irons.
Victor Laszlo kicked into gear when asked by jockey Tammi Piermarini in Saturday's $50,000 Last Dance Stakes for Massachusetts-breds and easily drew clear to win by 8 3/4 lengths. Wheely was second with Lord Kyle's Quest third. Victor Laszlo, a 4-year-old Victory Gallop gelding, ran the 1 mile and 70 yards on a fast track in 1:43.77. If the name sounds familiar, think "Casablanca".
He's Amazing made all the going in Sunday's $50,000 Arapahoe Park Classic and won easily, by 8 lengths over Behold de Buy. Dance to the Star finished third. He's Amazing, a 7-year-old Indy Film gelding, ran the 9 furlongs on a fast track in 1:50.45 with Russell Vicchtrilli in the irons.
News and notes:
Hall of Fame inductees in Friday's ceremonies: Jockeys John Velazquez and Anthony Hamilton; trainers Roger Attfield and Robert Wheeler and Thoroughbreds Ghostzapper and Planet. Planet, who won 27 of 31 starts racing in the 1850s, and Hamilton, who rode from 1881 to 1904, were voted in by the Historic Review Committee. For Black Tie Affair, it's "wait 'till next year" again.