Two-time reigning Horse of the Year had just crossed the wire to win the $1 million Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) at Keeneland on Saturday, and the questions started.
Could we see Wise Dan in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic?
With Mucho Macho Man, Palace Malice and Game On Dude out of the picture, the older handicap division is decimated. As it stands right now the top four betting choices for the Classic look like Shared Belief, Tonalist, California Chrome and Bayern- all three-year-olds.
Wise Dan’s trainer Charles LoPresti seemed open to the idea of going to the Classic.
“He’s trained so well over the dirt this year at Saratoga and here (that) I think if we are ever going to try it, this would be the year,” LoPresti said after the race. “You just don’t know how many (races) he has in him, a horse of this age. And whether he’ll get a mile and a quarter, I don’t know. I guess the only way to find out is to try.”
Shortly thereafter owner Mort Fink said if Wise Dan comes out of the race in good shape, he would be pointed toward winning a third consecutive Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1).
The connections of Wise Dan have been criticized in the past by some for taking the “easy route” and not stepping out of the box. His 2012 and 2013 campaigns getting to the Breeders’ Cup Mile were identical: preps in the Fourstardave (G2), Woodbine Mile (G1) and Shadwell Turf Mile.
I never agreed with the thinking that he should race in other races. He has raced in Grade 1 company 14 times out of his last 20 starts, with five coming in Grade 2 company and one Grade 3 start. The gelding is not dodging anyone.
Running in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, a race he won last two years certainly makes sense. He can match the great mare Goldikova’s record of three straight wins in the race.
However, an argument could be made that a start in the Classic might be the way to go. The purse offers $3 million more than the Mile, and the gelding likely would be the favorite or close second choice behind Shared Belief.
The gelding also has proven himself on dirt, missing the Stephen Foster (G1) in June of 2012 by a head. His career top speed figure came in his win on polytrack in the Ben Ali (G3) at Keeneland in April of that year. In 2011, he won the Clark Handicap (G1) on dirt.
Three of his losses on dirt came in sprints including a sixth place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) in 2010. Yes, Wise Dan ran in the Sprint, I forgot about that too.
Could Fink have a change of heart in the coming weeks? It is possible, but I would not look to place a future wager on Dan in the Classic any time soon.
Keeneland Surface Gets Rave Reviews
The question leading up to the opening of the fall meeting what about how the new surface would play. Would it revert to the speed friendly surface we saw before Polytrack was installed in 2006?
This is Keeneland we are talking about, and there seemed little doubt they would put in the very best dirt surface possible, and after three days, it sure seems like they succeeded.
It is hard to find anyone critical of the surface, and it seems to be playing fair to all running styles and paths.
More importantly (to me anyway) is that we knocked down five winners on top on Saturday, paying $3.80, $8.60, $7.60, $6.00 and $13.60. In addition, we had five recommended exactas: $42.40, $78.80, $119.60, $38.40 and $19.20.
On Sunday, we had five more winners on top, returning $4.40, $9.40, $5.00, $3.20 and $5.20. The recommended exactas paid $13.60, $32.40, and $52.40.
Yes, I love the new surface.
Michael Dempsey’s Breeders’ Cup Report $34.95
Michael’s Breeders’ Cup Report for Friday and Saturday includes his selections, analysis, fair odds line, and wagering recommendations for every race on the Friday and Saturday card from Santa Anita Park on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1.
The Breeders’ Cup offers 13 championship races over two days, bringing together the best top horses, trainers, and jockeys from around the world, this year to compete at Santa Anita Park.