On Sunday, reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan gets back to the track for the first time since winning the $500,000 Fourstardave at Saratoga Race Course when he takes on five in the Grade I Woodbine Mile.
He won the Woodbine Mile by 3 1⁄4 lengths last year as the 1-2 favorite, and this could be the last time fans get to see him run before the Breeders’ Cup.
Trainer Charlie LoPresti said Wise Dan might skip the Shadwell Mile at Keeneland, a race he won last year.
“There’s a possibility we could freshen him and go to the Breeders’ Cup directly, but I don’t want to rule out the Shadwell,” LoPresti told the Woodbine press office.
The 6-year-old Wise Dan, who also won Eclipse awards for older male and turf male following his Breeders’ Cup Mile victory, will carry topweight of 124 pounds and is the 2-5 morning-line favorite.
LoPresti gave him a four-furlong breeze on the Keeneland Polytrack on Tuesday, and Wise Dan covered it in :48.20.
The son of Wiseman’s Ferry worked on the Saratoga main track twice in his breezes after the Fourstardave.
“He worked really good,” LoPresti said. “He just did it real easy. We’ll get him home Monday, assess him and see how he came out of the race.”
If Wise Dan, who will be ridden by John Velazquez, wins on Sunday, he would become the first two-time winner of the Woodbine Mile since it became a mile race for horses 3 and up in 1997.
He’s 17-1-0 from 24 lifetime starts, and is on the verge of passing $4.5 million in career earnings.
His six wins last year came at five different tracks.
“He’s always been a real good shipper,” LoPresti said. “When we brought him up here last year, he made a few passes around the stall and went to sleep. For the Breeders’ Cup, he got in there a day or so later than he needed to, but he handled the shipping well. Nothing seems to upset him.”
The 4-1 second choice in the Woodbine Mile is Za Approval, a two-time Grade III winner this year who was second to Obviously in the Grade I Shoemaker Mile at Santa Anita.
The card also includes the Grade III Ontario Derby, Grade II Canadian and Grade I Northern Dancer Turf, where Irish Mission, Canada’s top 3-year-old filly last year, will take on six males.
The favorite is Grade III Singspiel and Grade II Sky Classic winner Forte Dei Marmi. He was fourth in the Northern Dancer last year.
Today’s feature at Belmont Park is the Grade I Garden City, and the card also includes the Grade III Noble Damsel, followed by two stakes for New York-breds on Sunday.
Grade I winners Emollient and Discreet Marq will break from the two inside posts in the Garden City against a field of 11 that includes two from the barn of Mechanicville native Chad Brown, Alterite and Watsdachances.
Emollient, sixth in the Black-Eyed Susan, is coming off a win in the American Oaks at Santa Anita.
“She’s been good enough to win on all three surfaces, but at this point in time, I’d say she’s best on turf or synthetic,” trainer Bill Mott told the New York Racing Association.
Trainer Christophe Clement said he sent Discreet Marq to the Grade I Del Mar Oaks to ensure that she’d get to run on a firm turf, and she won her third straight.
“She ran very well, and obviously, she did stay a mile and an eighth over firmer ground, and now we’ll go for No. 2,” Clement said.
Alterite, runner-up in the Group 1 Prix Saint-Alary at Longchamps, will make her first start in the U.S. for Brown after coming over from France.
Watsdachances was second in the Lake Placid and Lake George at Saratoga.
Grade I Matriarch winner Better Lucky, who is coming off a second to Stephanie’s Kitten in the Grade I Just a Game, is 9-5 in the Noble Damsel, followed closely by 2-1 Hungry Island, who was fourth in the Ballston Spa at Saratoga and third in the Just a Game.
On Sunday, Kharafa is 5-2 in a very competitive Ashley T. Cole for horses 3 and up at a mile and an eighth on the inner turf, and Wholelottashakin is 3-1 in another tough race, the John Hettinger for fillies and mares.
MENTOR CANE EUTHANIZED
Mentor Cane, second to Capo Bastone in the Grade I King’s Bishop on Aug. 24, was euthanized on Thursday following an injury he incurred during a workout that morning at Belmont.
He suffered a right-hind lateral condylar fracture and a comminuted right-hind P1 fracture, according to Dr. Anthony Verderosa, NYRA chief examining veterinarian.
Trained by John Shirreffs for Jerry and Ann Moss, Mentor Cane posted a five-length maiden victory on July 6 at Belmont in his third start and was fourth in the Grade II Amsterdam on July 28 at Saratoga.
AROUND THE TRACKS
Del Mar began an expansion of its turf course on Friday, widening the strip to accommodate more horses in an effort to host a future Breeders’ Cup. The project is expected to cost just under
The new course will accommodate 14 horses from the current 10-horse maximum, and the turns will be softened to make it safer for horses and riders. It will be widened 80 feet from the current 63-foot width on the straightaways. . . .
The sole winning ticket for Wednesday’s Pick 6 that paid $423,424 at Belmont was wagered by a NYRA Rewards customer.
Five of the six winners in the sequence paid double digits to win.
In the final leg, Ale defeated Logan Street, Trainingforsuccess and Yo Blue in a blanket finish. The four horses who formed the superfecta in the last race were the only horses covered in the Pick 6.
Tickets with five winners returned $2,075. . . .
The initial joint Pick 4 between Belmont and Penn National paid $8,358.40 on a 50-cent wager on Thursday.
The bet, which will be offered every Thursday through Oct. 24, combined the last two legs at Belmont with the first two at Penn National. The total pool was $59,000.50.