One day after entering the Hall of Fame, jockey John Velazquez piloted Wise Dan to an
electrifying victory in the 28th running of the Grade 2, $500,000
Fourstardave Handicap on Saturday at Saratoga Race Course.
Photo: NYRA, Adam Coglianese
Wise Dan, who gave Velazquez his eighth win in the turf race for
3-year-olds and up, settled in third along the rail after lunging at the start,
with pacesetter Get Stormy dictating fractions of 23.88 and 48.64 seconds.
Shuffled back on the far turn as he waited for an opening, Wise Dan
found a seam between Get Stormy and the rail with a furlong to travel, quickly
seized command and powered away to a five-length victory. Corporate Jungle was two
lengths clear of third-place finisher Get Stormy.
Wise Dan, a 5-year-old gelding making his first start on yielding ground,
completed one mile on the inner turf course in 1:37.30. He paid $5 for a $2 win
wager as the 3-2 favorite in the field of seven.
“This horse is doing incredible,” said Velazquez, whose
father-in-law, Leo O’Brien, trained Fourstardave, a beloved winner at Saratoga for eight
straight years. “I was not surprised with the way he ran in the stretch.
He was going so well. As soon as I let his head go, he responded really well
and took off.”
The Fourstardave was the sixth graded stakes win for Wise Dan, who
captured the 2011 Grade 1 Clark Handicap on dirt and established a course
record when running away to a 10 ½-length score in the Grade 3 Ben Ali on
Keeneland’s Polytrack in April. He entered the Fourstardave off a second,
beaten a head by Ron the Greek, in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap on June
16 at Churchill Downs.
After the Stephen Foster, Lopresti decided to send Wise Dan to the
Fourstardave and stablemate Successful Dan to the Grade 1 Whitney Invitational
Handicap on August 4. A filling in Succesful Dan’s left-front pastern
forced that runner to miss the Whitney, but Lopresti decided to stick to his
plan to run Wise Dan in the Fourstardave.
“I was trying to keep Successful Dan and Wise Dan apart,”
said Lopresti. “I knew Wise Dan was better on synthetic and I knew he
liked the grass. [Wise Dan] really didn’t handle the dirt track here, but
in the last 10 days he’s really started to handle it well. But it was too
late. I wasn’t going to change gears with a horse who never even breezed
on the dirt [here].”
With Wise Dan being so versatile, Lopresti and owner Morton Fink have
many options to choose from for the gelding’s next start.
“I know he likes this dirt track now,” said Lopresti.
“So maybe, 10 days, we may breeze him over it, and maybe [look at the]
Woodward [Grade 1, September 3] or the Woodbine Mile [September 16].”
Fink bred Wise Dan, a son of Wiseman’s Ferry, in Kentucky.
Guys Reward was fourth, followed home by Upgrade, Yield Bogey, and
Surfider. Data Link and Right One were scratched, as was main-track-only