Horse of the Year Wise Dan
is sitting on "go" for the Grade 2, $500,000 Fourstardave Handicap on
August 10, following a half-mile breeze over the main track on Saturday
morning at Saratoga Race Course.
shortly after the track opened at 5:30 a.m., Wise Dan went four
furlongs in 49.59 seconds, galloping out five-eighths in 1:02 according
to NYRA clockers, ranking 29th of 48 horses at the distance.
move came one week after a sizzling five-furlong work over the Oklahoma
training track turf course in 57.38 seconds, after which trainer
Charles LoPresti was undecided whether to give Wise Dan another breeze
before the one-mile Fourstardave.
just wanted to do something easy with him," said LoPresti, who trains
the 6-year-old Wiseman's Ferry gelding for owner Morton Fink. "I wasn't
sure what I was going to do. I didn't want to take him to the turf
again. I just wanted a nice, easy work for him, just something to keep
him ticking over to next week."
said he wasn't concerned about the time of the work but is more focused
on how Wise Dan is coming into his return to Saratoga. Wise Dan began
his seven-race win streak, which includes five Grade 1 victories, in
last year's Fourstardave.
perfect," LoPresti said. "He could have gone so much faster, but we
didn't want him to do that. He did that last week. That was the work
that prepared him for this race. This was just something to tick him
LoPresti is following a similar schedule this year with Wise Dan, whose older half-brother, Successful Dan,
is running in today's Grade 1, $750,000 Whitney Invitational Handicap. A
graded stakes winner on three surfaces, including Grade 1 wins on dirt
and turf, Wise Dan also was nominated to the Whitney.
think he would be very hard to beat in the Whitney," LoPresti said. "I
just feel that way. He's trained well over this track."
* * *
Also on the worktab for the Fourtstardave was King Kreesa, who will step up in class off wins in Belmont Park's Grade 3 Poker on July 4 and Kingston for New York-breds on June 1.
Irad Ortiz, Jr. aboard, King Kreesa breezed four furlongs on the
Oklahoma turf course in 47.29 seconds in company with stablemate The Big
was a nice breeze, and Irad was real happy with him," said trainer
Jeremiah Englehart. "He puts a lot into his training, so I wasn't too
worried about him needing to get a lot out of the work."
by Gerald and Susan Kresa, King Kreesa set the pace in both his 2
¼-length Kingston victory and 1 ½-length Poker triumph. Although King
Kreesa was on the lead in those races, Englehart believes the 4-year-old
doesn't need it and will let the gelding race wherever he is most
comfortable in the Fourstardave.
much more mature in his races this year; he allows Irad to settle him,"
said Englehart. "The trainer in me wants to believe he can race off the
pace, but everybody has been telling me he does his best when he races
on the lead. I'm a little biased, but I think he'll be OK just off the
pace. I'd be stupid to say I know he'll be fine racing off the pace, so
we'll just let him do his thing."
acknowledges that the Fourstardave will be a stern test for King
Kreesa, a four-time stakes winner who is 5-3-2 in 14 starts.
have a lot of respect for what Wise Dan has accomplished," said
Englehart. "The nice thing about horse racing is that there are a lot of
variables, and we feel like this is our time to take a chance."
* * *
Trainer John Shirreffs on Saturday said he is looking forward to running Mr. Commons
in the Fourstardave based off how the 5-year-old exited his fifth-place
finish in an optional claiming race on July 24 at Saratoga.
eating well, he's training great, the rider is commenting that he came
out of that race with a lot of energy," said Shirreffs. "It looks like
this next race should be really good."
two-time Grade 2 winner on the turf, Mr. Commons finished 1 ½ lengths
behind Seal Cove in the optional claimer. It was Mr. Commons first start
since the St. George Farm Racing color-bearer finished third in the
Grade 1 Maker's 46 Mile in April at Keeneland. The 5-year-old was
scratched out of the Grade 3 Jaipur in June at Belmont after the race
was transferred to the main track.
last race was a good comeback race, probably better than his placing
indicated," said Shirreffs. "I'm looking forward to running him. He
needed a race - he had one work in a month (a four furlong breeze on
July 17 at Belmont Park). We had a lot of bad weather and the timing was
never right, but the nice thing is he came out of this race really
well. He recovered quickly. The whole point of the allowance race was to
get him ready for the Fourstardave. We knew he would need a prep race."
Shirreffs added that he wants Mr. Commons to get an outside trip in the Fourstardave.
those horses came outside of him [in the July 24 race] he didn't really
like that," said Shirreffs. "If we can get the outside and make a run, I
think he'll do very well."
Mr. Commons will breeze on Sunday, according to Shirreffs.
* * *
Next Saturday will see the return of reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan to Saratoga's turf as he heads the field for the Grade 2, $500,000 Fourstardave Handicap at a mile.
those likely to challenge Wise Dan, whose victory in the 2012
Fourstardave was the start of his seven-race winning streak, are King Kreesa, who enters off back-to-back victories in the Kingston for New York-breds and the Grade 3 Poker at Belmont Park; Lea, runner-up to Wise Dan in the Grade 2 Firecracker at Churchill Downs on June 29 last time out; Mr. Commons, fifth as the favorite over "good" turf in an optional claimer at the Spa on July 24; Skyring, most recently sixth in the Grade 1 United Nations on July 6 at Monmouth Park, and Za Approval, second in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile last time out.
Willyconker is questionable, according to NYRA stakes coordinator Andrew Byrnes.