SHADWELL TURF MILE (Grade 1)
Keeneland, Turf, 1600m
4 October 2014
No matter what obstacles are thrown at him this season, two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan refuses to lose.
Making his first start in Grade 1 company Saturday since undergoing colic surgery, Morton FInk's 7-year-old Wiseman's Ferry gelding hesitated at the start of the $1 million Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland and the 9-10 favorite found himself dead last headed into the first turn.
"Once that door opened and he didn't break, I knew this was going to be a tough job behind horses to get him to settle," Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez said. "Once I put him to the outside he kicked in with his usual kick, but it was a little scary there to get him to settle behind horses, definitely."
Jockey Robby Albarado attempted to walk the dog on 2013 Shadwell winner Silver Max, galloping to an easy quarter in :24.58 and a half in :48.27 before getting three-quarters in 1:12.02, but Wise Dan was moving up gradually between rivals to improve his position.
"His head was sideways and he didn't break, and I was a little worried but even down the backside I liked the way he was tugging," trainer Charlie LoPresti said. "Once I saw that :24 and change, I thought, 'Somebody's got to go with Silver Max, that's the way he steals races.'"
Wise Dan was still seventh around the turn for home and had five lengths or so to make up coming into the stretch. Swung out to the six path and set down for the drive, the six-time Eclipse Award winner found another gear and swept up to best Grand Arch by a length in the final strides.
"Turning for home, I thought I had a big chance but Wise Dan came by me very, very fast," said Grand Arch's jockey, David Moran. "My horse kept grinding. He ran huge. He's a hard knocker. If anyone was going to beat us today, it had to be Dan."
"When he kicked it for home, he just killed it," LoPresti said. "He's been training like a monster. He ran a great race."
It was the 11th grade 1 victory of Wise Dan's career and his second edition of the Shadwell - he won the race in 2012 but was second to Silver Max in an off-the-turf renewal run on Polytrack last year. The winner's share from the first seven-figure purse offered in Keeneland history boosted his earnings to $7,552,920 with 23 wins and two seconds from 31 starts. He is undefeated in 2014.
Extract from Blood-Horse