weeks since his last race, and 106 days removed from emergency colic
surgery, two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan is set to make his return
in Saturday's Grade 2, $250,000 Bernard Baruch Handicap at Saratoga Race
The 7-year-old Morton Fink champion homebred is the 127-pound highweight in the 56th
renewal of the 1 1/16-mile Baruch, for 3-year-olds and up on the inner
turf course. It is one of four graded stakes on the program, along with
the Grade 1, $600,000 Woodward, Grade 1, $500,000 Forego, and Grade 2,
by Charles LoPresti, Wise Dan has won each of his two starts this year -
the Grade 1 Makers 46 Mile on April 11 and Grade 1 Woodford Reserve
Turf Classic on May 3 - but has spent the past four months recuperating
from surgery performed on May 16 after developing colic following a
Dan has had seven works since the operation, the last six at Saratoga,
where he won the Grade 2 Fourstardave in 2012 and 2013 en route to
multiple championship honors. Not wanting to rush the Wiseman's Ferry
gelding to make the August 9 race, LoPresti instead began eyeing the
Baruch, a race he won in 2011 with Turallure.
nominated to the Woodward, Wise Dan breezed twice on the Saratoga turf
before having four works over the main track, most recently going a
half-mile in 47.92 seconds, seventh-fastest of 101 horses on Sunday.
gotten back to where he was; he's dragging his rider around there,"
LoPresti said. "His works have been really good, and they've been
basically not even asking him to do that. He's just been doing it in
think he's back to himself again," he added. "It took him a while to
get back. We were probably two works short of the Fourstardave. Once we
got him up here, I realized I was trying to play catch-up to make that
race and this makes more sense. I can't say that any race at Saratoga is
easy, but this is an easier spot, I think, for him to come back in."
of Fame rider John Velazquez will be back aboard Wise Dan, who drew
post 5 and has a record of 21 wins and two seconds from 29 lifetime
starts and earnings of $6,802,920. Seventeen of his wins have come in
graded stakes, including 10 Grade 1 races.
want to get him started. I'm not going to jump off the roof if he gets
beat half a length or a length, something like that," LoPresti said.
"He's been beaten before, so that doesn't worry me. He got beat in the
[Grade 1] Shadwell Mile [in October 2013] and everybody started writing
him off, but he got beat by a horse that got on the front end and just
stole the race.
could happen again [Saturday], but Johnny's smart enough," he added.
"He's not going to abuse him and chase some horse around there just to
get a win in him. If he's lucky enough to win, fine, but if it sets him
up for the Shadwell and the Breeders' Cup, I'm OK with that, too."
from the layoff, Wise Dan will give up between eight and 13 pounds to
his rivals in the Baruch. He carried 129 pounds in his 1 ¼-length
victory over King Kreesa in last year's Fourstardave.
got a lot of weight," LoPresti said. "It's not as bad as last year, but
we still got the weight that we're dealing with, too. I think he's
really good. He's doing good right now. I got him as fit as I can get
him and I'm happy with him."
other Grade 1 winner in the Baruch field is Boisterous, a 7-year-old
son of Distorted Humor making his sixth start since being transferred to
trainer Todd Pletcher for the 2014 campaign.
won the Grade 1 Man o' War last summer at Belmont Park for Hall of Fame
trainer Shug McGaughey and owns one victory in four career tries on the
Saratoga turf, his maiden triumph in August 2010. Most recently, he
finished fourth, beaten 1 ¼ lengths, in the Grade 2 Bowling Green
Handicap on July 12 at Belmont, going 1 ½ miles.
in on 1,000 career stakes victories, Pletcher captured the Grade 3, 1
1/8-mile Cliff Hanger on August 24 at Monmouth Park with Winning Cause,
who the trainer cut back in distance after running fourth in the 1
5/8-mile John's Call at Saratoga. Pletcher won the 2012 Baruch with
you get an improved effort when you're going from longer to shorter
[distances]. We saw that with Winning Cause," Pletcher said. "Boisterous
shows up and tries hard every time. He's been training steadily since
his last race and he's doing well. On certain days, he's shown that he
can compete at the highest level."
Half of a Gary Barber-owned entry with Bio Pro, Boisterous will carry jockey Javier Castellano and 119 pounds from post 4.
Kiaran McLaughlin won three straight editions of the Baruch with Shakis
(2007-08) and Justenuffhumor (2009), and he goes for a fourth with
Sayaad. The 4-year-old Street Sense colt had his three-race win streak
snapped when fifth to Seek Again in the Fourstardave, after dueling with
Grade 1-winning pacesetter Silver Max. It was a loose-on-the-lead
Silver Max that ended Wise Dan's nine-race streak in the 2013 Shadwell
could be on an uncontested lead, but Wise Dan is keen and off a long
layoff; he could be breathing down our throats or he could be on the
lead," McLaughlin said. "I'm hoping we can be on the lead, but if
there's other speed we can lay second. He did rate [in the
Fourstardave], we just need to time it right."
Jose Ortiz will ride Sayaad, assigned 117 pounds, from post 10.
Sky Blazer will be making his 29th career start and 10th
in a graded stakes in the Baruch, a race in which he finished third in
2012. He is 1-for-6 this year, winning an optional claiming allowance at
Gulfstream Park in March and finishing third by less than a length in
the Bowling Green.
run him long, I've run him short, and he's run decently both ways,"
trainer Barclay Tagg said. "I can't get something that really fits him
well, so we might as well take a shot. Big things happen sometimes if
you're in there. You never know what's going to happen."
Sky Blazer will break from outside post 11 under Rajiv Maragh at 116 pounds.
out the field are multiple Grade 3 winners Five Iron, who took the 2013
Saranac at Saratoga for trainer Brian Lynch, and Optimizer, a veteran
of all three legs of the 2012 Triple Crown for previous trainer D. Wayne
Lukas; North Star Boy, a Spa allowance winner on July 19; and Bio Pro
and Paris Vegas, second and sixth, respectively, in the Lure on August 2
Lea and Red Rifle are entered for main track only.