Reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan will start in Saturday’s Grade I Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs “as long as everything stays good”, trainer Charlie LoPresti confirmed Monday.
Wise Dan had been under consideration for the Grade I Stephen Foster on the dirt at Churchill in June but LoPresti said that with Successful Dan, Wise Dan’s half brother, returning to win his seasonal bow at Keeneland, he will likely point him that route with his younger sibling now set to take on 4-time Grade I winner Point of Entry in the 1 1/8-miles Woodford.
“He’s like a monster right now,” LoPresti said of Wise Dan. “With Successful Dan we might point him to the Stephen Foster but that’s not the only reason we’re making this decision. He (Wise Dan) is very good right now. But if there are any hiccups over the next two days, he will not run.”
Jockey John Velazquez, regular rider for both Wise Dan and Point of Entry, will stay on Point of Entry for the Woodford with Jose Lezcano slated to ride Wise Dan. Lezcano subbed for an injured Velazquez and guided Wise Dan to victory when he won the Grade I Maker’s 46 Mile at Keeneland in his seasonal bow on April 12 and was also aboard the chestnut when he won the Shadwell Turf Mile last October.
“Johnny already committed to ride Point of Entry because I told him I wasn’t going in that race (the Woodford),” LoPresti said. “I don’t think it’s a matter of which one he choses over the other one, it’s that he’s already committed to ride that horse. It’s the same thing like with the Shadwell when we told him we weren’t going.”
Velazquez had a prior commitment to ride Archwarrior for trainer Todd Pletcher in the Champagne last fall, which is why he was unable to ride in the Shadwell.
Point of Entry, trained by Shug McGaughey, opened his 2013 campaign with a win over champion and eventual Dubai World Cup winner Animal Kingdom in the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap in February. Point of Entry won three Grade I races last year before finishing second in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. He and Wise Dan will be facing off against each other for the first time.