Courtesy of NYRA publicity team
After Wise Dan and Successful Dan turned in separate Saturday breezes at Saratoga Race Course, trainer Charles LoPresti said he now has a better idea of where he’ll run the half-brothers during the 2013 race meet.
Reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan remains on course for a title defense in the Grade II Fourstardave Handicap on August 10, while Successful Dan is now under consideration for the Grade I, $750,000, Whitney Invitational Handicap on August 3, according to LoPresti, who trains the geldings for Morton Fink.
Exercise rider Damien Rock was aboard for both workouts, with Wise Dan breezing four furlongs in 51.24 seconds over a main track labeled “good” and Successful Dan earning a bullet for his five-furlong breeze in 1:00.61 after the track had been upgraded to “fast.”
Successful Dan, a four-time graded stakes winner, was fourth in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap on June 15 at Churchill Downs in his most recent start.
“I was really on the fence what to do with [Successful Dan] after he got up here,” said LoPresti of the 7-year-old. “His race in the Foster was kind of a question. He had never been beat at Churchill. A lot of those horses didn’t show up that night. [The winner] Fort Larned ran a great race, but the rest of the horses – Ron the Greek and Take Charge Indy – didn’t run their races. Royal Delta didn’t run her race over that track [second in the Grade II Fleur de Lis Handicap]. [Jockey Julien Leparoux] told me [Successful Dan] was having trouble getting hold of the ground, so I drew a line through it.”
Successful Dan’s breeze Saturday impressed LoPresti sufficiently for the trainer to consider the Whitney. The trainer had hoped to run Successful Dan in the Whitney last year before the gelding was forced to miss the race with a strained XYZ ligament.
“That was our plan last year, but it went south on us because of injuries,” said LoPresti. “This horse has been plagued by injuries that keep him from being the same caliber as Wise Dan.”
LoPresti spoke in glowing terms when describing Wise Dan’s breeze.
“We didn’t go fast by design,” said LoPresti. “Damien said he just held onto him the whole way. He was really strong galloping out and going down the backside. [Wise Dan] wanted to do more, obviously. He’s dead fit off those races. We’ll probably take him over to the grass, maybe next week, and work him one time for the Fourstardave.”
Wise Dan, a 6-year-old, has won seven straight races, a streak that began with last year’s Fourstardave and includes the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Mile. The streak briefly appeared in jeopardy last time out in the Grade 2 Firecracker Handicap on June 29 at Churchill Downs when Wise Dan was shut off before he squeezed through along the inside en route to a two-length win.
“I don’t have to prove anything or chase anybody,” said LoPresti. “Now I got him where I want him. If he can repeat what he did last year, I don’t have to win a Grade I on the dirt with him.”
Also on the main track worktab was Enchanting Lisa, a 3-year-old half-sister to Wise Dan and Successful Dan who went four furlongs in 51.51. Enchanting Lisa has made one start, a seven-length victory on June 12 at Presque Isle Downs.
Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Fort Larned had his penultimate tune-up Saturday morning for his title defense in the Grade I Whitney Invitational Handicap, breezing five furlongs in 1:03.81 over the main track.
“It was a little slower than what I wanted, but the track was a little dead this morning, and it was a work to set up a work,” said Ian Wilkes, who trains Fort Larned for owner Janis Whitham. “We’ll come back [next week] and get a major work with him off this.”
Fort Larned, who earned his first Grade I triumph in last year’s 1 1/8-mile Whitney, enters this year’s edition off a eye-catching 6 ¼-length victory in the Grade I Stephen Foster Handicap on June 15 at Churchill Downs. It was the 5-year-old’s first win since the 2012 Classic, having lost his rider two strides out of the gate in the Grade II Gulfstream Park Handicap on March 9 and then finishing a non-threatening fifth in the Grade II Oaklawn Handicap a month later.
“The first one, the stumble, that was a thing which took more out of him than you think,” said Wilkes. “If I’d stuck with my original plan [and not run at Oaklawn] that would be fine, but I could second-guess myself all day long.
“He got a lot out of his last race,” he added. “He ran fast [1:47.45] and the track wasn’t a fast track that night.”
Fellow Whitney hopeful Mucho Macho Man also went to the main track Saturday morning, where he was credited with a five-furlong breeze in 1:01.61 under exercise rider Nick Petro.
“He had a great work this morning, and we’re looking forward to the Whitney,” said trainer Kathy Ritvo of the Reeves Thoroughbred Racing color-bearer. “He’ll have one more work; the day will be dependant on the weather.”
Mucho Macho Man, second in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Classic, has made two starts this year, finishing seventh in the Sunshine Millions Classic on January 9 at Gulfstream Park and third in the Criminal Type overnight stakes on June 14 at Belmont Park.
“His last race was a good comeback race for him,” said Ritvo. “It reminded us of the Alysheba last year, when he finished third and then came up and won the [Grade 2] Suburban Handicap.”