Winning for his sixth time in his last eight starts, those wins coming over a variety of surfaces, Wise Dan took the Grade II $500,000 Fourstardave on Saturday at Saratoga Race Course. The win over a mile of yielding turf was added to graded-stakes wins over Keeneland’s all-weather surface and both the dirt and firm turf at Churchill Downs in that stretch.
“I’ve got a lot of options, you know?” said trainer Charles Lopresti. “I know he likes this dirt track now, so maybe in 10 days, we may breeze him over it. Maybe the Woodward [Sept. 1], maybe the Woodbine Mile [Sept. 16], maybe the Bernard Baruch [Sept. 1]. There’s just a lot of options.
“He likes the mud, too. That’s the thing. I wasn’t worried if it came off because he won both times [twice in 2010 at Churchill Downs] on an off track. He’s just a neat horse. He likes to run.”
Wise Dan waited under jockey John Velazquez until pace-setter Get Stormy drifted out slightly at the eighth pole. Wise Dan sprang along the rail to pull away to a five-length win over charging Corporate Jungle.
“I was not surprised with the way he ran in the stretch,” Velazquez said. “He was going so well. As soon as I let his head go, he responded really well and took off.”
How he would run over the soft ground, soaked by early rains for the second straight day, was a concern for Lopresti.
“It always is when you’ve never run over a soft turf like that,” he said. “He’s never worked over it, he’s never ran over it. I was a little concerned, but Johnny said he wasn’t a bit worried. When I saw him down on the inside there, backing up a little, I said ‘Oh, boy.’ But Johnny said he had so much horse, he could have pulled the trigger at any time he wanted. He’s really confident in this horse, he’s done a great job with him.”
Corporate Jungle, trained by Mechanicville native Chad Brown, moved out in the final turn under jockey Javier Castellano to look for a clear path, then back in by the eighth pole and got two lengths clear of Get Stormy by the time they hit the wire.
“I’m very proud of this horse, and the horse that won was a really good horse,” Brown said. “The winner got a great slot when Get Stormy came off the rail. . . . We lost ground on the turn, but I think it was a good move by Javier to get the jump on the 2 [Wise Dan] and hope he’d get bottled up inside. But I think my horse is good enough to win a Grade I.”
Beyond Wise Dan’s next start or two lies the decision of what Breeders’ Cup race to enter at Santa Anita in November.
He won the Grade I Clark over the dirt at Churchill Downs three starts back last November. He followed that up with a 101⁄2-length win in the Grade III Ben Ali at Keeneland before losing by a head to Ron the Greek in the Grade I Stephen Foster on June 16, all of these races at 11⁄8 miles. Lopresti said, though, that he was unsure how his horse would handle the 11⁄4 miles in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, if he were to enter.
“Johnny, when he won the Ben Ali, he told me he’d go all day long,” he said. “If you looked at him in the Stephen Foster, past the wire, he just kept going. You just don’t know. I don’t know how you’d measure that.”
Though there are no definite plans yet on where to run Wise Dan next, Lopresti seemed eager to add to the win in the Clark with another dirt victory to solidify his horse’s standing among the best running.
“I’ll tell you what I’d love to do — I would love to see this horse win [another] Grade I on the dirt,” he said. “He should have won the race in the Stephen Foster. He got beat a head, and no disgrace. He ran a great race. He came out of the Ben Ali and just got beat a head in the Stephen Foster. I think if he could win a Grade I on the dirt, people would really start to recognize this horse is one of the best horses on the East Coast.”
AWESOME MARIA RETIRED
Multiple graded stakes-winner Awesome Maria was retired with a tendon injury, the Daily Racing Form reported.
Awesome Maria broke her maiden at Saratoga her second time out in 2009. She finished with a record of 9-3-3 from 16 career starts, amassing more than $1.1 million for owner/breeder Joyce Robsham. She was 4-for-4 last year with a win in the Grade I Ogden Phipps Handicap. Her last start was a third-place finish July 21 in the Grade II Delaware Handicap.