Photo: Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer
It wasn’t the easiest race for reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan, but the Mort Fink-homebred trimmed the hedge of the Matt Winn Turf Course and found a way to
win the Firecracker Handicap (Grade II) under the lights at Churchill Downs. Trainer Charlie LoPresti reported the 6-year-old was in good order Sunday morning at Keeneland.
“He looks really good today and he doesn’t have a scratch on him, believe it or not,” LoPresti said.
Wise Dan, the top-ranked active runner in the latest Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings, also overcame a 128-pound impost, a driving rainstorm and a yielding turf course to become the first two-time winner of
“I watched the race a bunch last
night and this morning,” LoPresti said. “It was nerve-racking with the
weight spread and the way the weather played out, but we got through it.
And he handled the weight spread and showed he’s
truly a great horse. I just hope they don’t put too much weight on him
down the road.
“I’m glad he got to run up there and
the fans really cheered him on when he came back. Hopefully it was good
for Churchill to have a horse like that run up there.”
LoPresti said Wise Dan will remain at Keeneland for a couple weeks and then will head to Saratoga in mid-July.
“We’re thinking about the
Fourstardave (GII on turf on Aug. 10) and the Whitney (GI on dirt on
Aug. 3),” LoPresti said. “We’ll see how he comes out of it and how he
handles going up there. We’ll also look at the Bernard Baruch
(GII on turf on Aug. 31) and the Woodward (GI on dirt on Aug. 31). There
are four races up there that we’re looking at with this horse.
“I’d really like to keep him
undefeated and I’d like to win a Grade I on dirt with him this year. If
we get a Grade I on dirt with him and then keep him going and get a few
wins on the grass and then get to the Breeders’ Cup,
maybe he’ll get Horse of the Year again.”
Wise Dan’s win in the Firecracker was his seventh consecutive victory and the 16th of 23 career starts. He has earned $4,164,070.
Wise Dan’s older half-brother Successful Dan, most recently fourth in the Stephen Foster Handicap (GI), also will make the trip to Saratoga with LoPresti.
“Successful Dan is going with us too
and we’ll train him accordingly,” LoPresti said. “We’ll look at the
Whitney and the Woodward with him, as well.”