WISE DAN EXITS SHADWELL VICTORY IN FINE FORM
With Saturday’s $750,000 Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) now in his rearview mirror, trainer Charles Lopresti can look ahead to the Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Santa Anita next month for stable star Wise Dan.
“I knew I did the right thing by the way he ran,” said Lopresti, who brought Wise Dan back to the races three weeks after a victory in the Ricoh Woodbine Mile (G1). “I was concerned going in because of the new rider (Jose Lezcano, who filled in for John Velazquez, who had a prior commitment at Belmont Park) and traffic with a lot of horses.”
Lezcano kept Wise Dan in the clear the whole way, sweeping to the lead coming off the final turn and cruising to a 2¼-length triumph over Willcox Inn.
“It worked out perfect,” Lopresti said of the victory over 11 rivals that was the fourth at Keeneland for Wise Dan, who is owned by breeder Morton Fink. “It was like a workout for him.”
The four victories tie Wise Dan with Take Charge Lady for the most stakes victories at Keeneland. Wise Dan also has won the 2010 Phoenix (G3), 2011 Fayette (G2) and 2012 Ben Ali (G3). Take Charge Lady won the 2001 Alcibiades (G2), 2002 Ashland (G1) and the 2002 and 2003 Spinster (G1).
Lopresti said Wise Dan likely would have one work here at Keeneland before shipping to Santa Anita.
“I know you have to be out there by Wednesday (October 31) and I would like get there as close to the race as possible,” Lopresti said of Wise Dan, who has won his past three starts on turf by a combined 10½ lengths.
Wise Dan also is a Grade 1 winner on dirt. Although the 5-year-old Wiseman’s Ferry gelding earned a berth in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) on grass on November 3 with his Woodbine victory, there is a $5 million carrot in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) that same day.
“I am going to talk it over with (owner) Mr. (Mort) Fink, but we will probably stick with the Mile,” Lopresti said. “I am a little concerned about the track out there being a bit loose and speed favoring. For him to run on a track that he never has been on and face a horse like Game On Dude that has won over the track would be like throwing him to the wolves.”
BRADLEY PLOTS BREEDERS’ CUP COURSE FOR GROUPIE DOLL
Co-owner, co-breeder and trainer Buff Bradley had a minor scare Saturday afternoon after Groupie Doll’s dominating, 6½-length victory under Rajiv Maragh in the $200,000 Thoroughbred Club of America (G2).
“They called me away from the champagne reception after the race from the test barn,” Bradley said, explaining the call had been made because of the filly’s demeanor. “I got there and she was not even blowing hard. It was like she didn’t do anything. She was just telling me ‘Let’s go home.’ ”
So home she went back to Churchill Downs, where Bradley reported she ate up everything last night and was grazing this morning.
The victory earned Groupie Doll an expense-paid trip to Santa Anita for the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) to be run November 3.
The 4-year-old daughter of Bowman’s Band, now a millionaire after Saturday’s victory, has won four graded stakes in a row by a combined 20½ lengths. She will step into the deepest of waters as one of the biggest favorites at the World Championships.
“I went to bed at 11 last night but I woke up at 2:30 because I was so jacked up,” said Bradley, who owns Groupie Doll with his father, Fred, Carl Hurst and Brent Burns.
“I drove to McDonald’s and bought breakfast for everybody at the barn and then it sunk in. She has been so dominant and you just watch her and can’t believe she keeps doing it and so easily.”
According to Trakus, which records individual sectional times and distance covered for races at Keeneland, Groupie Doll’s final furlong Saturday was 0.69 seconds faster than the next-fastest finisher in the race.
Bradley hopes to work Groupie Doll “a couple of easy halves” prior to the Breeders’ Cup with the final work coming at Santa Anita.
“I would like to let her stretch her legs out there and get her there a week before the race,” Bradley said. “I think there is a flight on the Friday before (October 26) and that would be ideal.”
BOURBON GIVES BROWN ALMIGHTY A BREEDERS’ CUP SHOT
As the first stakes winner by champion Big Brown, the 2008 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness (G1) winner, Brown Almighty already has made his share of headlines. More will come with a win in today’s Bourbon (G3) by the colt, who has his own Facebook page, the “Brown Almighty Official Page.”
“We thought it would be a good steppingstone to see where we’re at with him as far as the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1),” trainer Tim Ice said. “This will give us a good indication if he’s good enough. Also there are not a whole lot of turf races for 2-year-olds right now, so it was here or New York, and this was closer to home (in Chicago). It’s Keeneland, and we wanted to be here to race.”
The Bourbon is a “Win and You’re In” race for the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf on November 3 at Santa Anita.
A graduate of Keeneland’s 2010 November Breeding Stock Sale and 2011 September Yearling Sale, Brown Almighty races for Tri-Star Racing LLC of Rich Robertson and Alan Dean of Camden, Ark., and Joe B. Denson of Cleveland, Miss. The colt won his career debut on July 14 at Arlington Park then made his next two starts at Louisiana Downs, where he won the Sunny’s Halo on August 4 and was second to Java’s War in the Sunday Silence. Java’s War was third in yesterday’s Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity (G1).
Brown Almighty has raced exclusively on the turf, and Ice pointed out that Big Brown made his first start on the surface. Big Brown won that race to launch a five-race win streak that included the first two legs of the Triple Crown.
Ice, who won the 2009 Belmont (G1) with Summer Bird, sent out his first Keeneland starter during this year’s Spring Meet. He will saddle Stehekin in an allowance race here on Wednesday.
CARDINAL AT CHURCHILL DOWNS MAY BE NEXT FOR DAISY DEVINE
Trainer Andrew McKeever was proud of the effort turned in by James Miller’s Daisy Devine in Saturday’s $350,000 First Lady (G1) in which she was beaten a half-length by Tapitsfly.
“She ran a hard race yesterday, but she seemed to come out of it fine,” McKeever said of Daisy Devine, who was making her first start in five months. “She had run races like that before with those kinds of fillies. The only question was if I had her fit enough.”
Racing three wide most of the way, Daisy Devine stalked the pace and made the lead at the top of the stretch and just failed to hold off Tapitsfly in her bid to become the third filly to win the Jenny Wiley (G1) and First Lady in the same year.
The $100,000 Cardinal (G3) at Churchill Downs on November 10 at 1 1/8 miles on the turf is the next likely start for Daisy Devine.
“I will talk it over with Mr. Miller, but there are no other races for her and I doubt we would ship her out west,” McKeever said.
Bluegrass Equine Bloodstock’s Joha returned to trainer Mike Maker’s barn at Louisville’s Trackside Training Center this morning after exiting his victory in the Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity (G1) in good order.
The victory earned Joha a berth in the $2 million Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) to be run November 3 at Santa Anita. However, Maker said that the $500,000 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) to be run the same day may be the more likely target for Joha, who has a win and second in two grass starts. …
Michael Dilger, assistant to trainer Todd Pletcher, reported that Melnyk Racing Stables’ Bridgetown came out of his victory in the $150,000 Woodford Stakes presented by Keeneland Select (G3) in good order. The $90,000 winner’s check pushed the 5-year-old closer to millionaire status with a bankroll of $934,700 compiled with a record of 19-9-5-1.
The stakes victory was the 35th for Pletcher at Keeneland, moving him to second all time at the track behind only Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas who has won 50 stakes. Bill Mott is third with 34 stakes wins here.
Willcox Inn might have earned a trip to the Breeders’ Cup Mile with his runner-up finish to Wise Dan, trainer Mike Stidham said Sunday.
“We’ll see how he comes out of the race,” Stidham said about the 4-year-old Harlan’s Holiday colt, who was a 48-1 longshot in the Shadwell Turf Mile. …
Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Stephanie’s Kitten, winner of last year’s Darley Alcibiades (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G2), worked five furlongs in 1:02.60 on the main track Sunday morning on her own for an expected start in Saturday’s Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1). Fractions for the work were :12.80, :25.20, :37.80, :50 and out six furlongs in 1:17.