Wise Dan still on track for Breeders’ Cup after Shadwell defeat

Trainer Charlie LoPresti said he woke up more than once during the night dwelling on Wise Dan’s defeat in Saturday’s $750,000 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland. The reigning Horse of the Year was relatively unfazed, according to LoPresti, and remains on course for the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita Park in November.

“He looked to be good (this morning),” LoPresti said Sunday. “He was blowing pretty good when he came back but in 20 minutes or (after the race) so he started dragging (groom) Reeve (McGaughey) around the barn again. I mean I woke up I don’t know how many times last night wishing it didn’t happen. I told everyone I didn’t want to get him beat but it’s not like he was undefeated.”

Wise Dan saw his nine-race win streak dating back to last year come to an end in the Shadwell when front-running Silver Max made all the running in what become a 1 1/16-miles race. The Shadwell was taken off the turf and run at said distance over the main Polytrack after jockeys and track management decided the turf course had become too dangerous thanks to an inch and a half of rain drenching the area.

LoPresti didn’t have much cause for concern over the switch as Wise Dan is the track record holder going 1 1/8-miles on the Keeneland Polytrack. Hindsight suggests to him that the amount of water on the track and the wide trip the 6-year-old gelding had throughout may have taken the edge off his infamous closing kick.

“He was running hard the whole way and when (jockey) Johnny (Velazquez) called on him and he took off but that other horse just kept going,” LoPresti said. “I don’t know if he even really struggled with the track. I just think it was a track where after that rain, maybe you weren’t going to close on it. It wasn’t like that horse was drawing away from him either, we actually made up ground when you think about where he was.”

Wise Dan had not lost since finishing second by a head to Ron the Greek in the 2012 Grade I Stephen Foster Handicap on the dirt at Churchill Downs. The nine race win streak he had amassed since then all came on the turf and featured six Grade I victories.

The Shadwell loss shouldn’t prevent Wise Dan from still heading into the Breeders’ Cup Mile as the likely race favorite. The chestnut Wiseman’s Ferry gelding set a course record at Santa Anita when he captured the 2012 Mile and one of his expected top contenders in Obviously suffered a loss of his own Saturday, finishing fourth in the Grade II City of Hope Mile Stakes at Santa Anita.

“I am disappointed, I didn’t want to get him beat and I almost wish now I didn’t run him,” said LoPresti, who added Wise Dan would likely ship out for the Breeders’ Cup on October 29. “The only thing I worry about is how much it might take out of him for the Breeders’ Cup, and I won’t know that for a couple days.  But they said he was walking around biting at people this morning. He sure bounced back off (his course-record win in the Grade I Woodbine Mile). He wasn’t even tired after that race.

Trainer Wesley Ward is also making Breeders’ Cup plans for his charge Judy the Beauty after she upset champion Groupie Doll in Saturday’s Grade II Thoroughbred Club of America.

“The filly is doing good and the owner-trainer is doing better,” Ward said. “This is her home track and that home-court advantage is big in all sports.”

The victory earned Judy the Beauty a berth in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint and Ward added that she will do all of her major preparation for the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland.

“Last year, I shipped her out to Hollywood Park two weeks early,” Ward said. “She worked in :59, but she bled and I shipped her back home the next day. I like to ship in right on top of the race, so we will stay here and go on the last plane out there (the week of the Breeders’ Cup).”

Trainer and co-owner Buff Bradley said Groupie Doll returned to Churchill Downs after finishing third in the TCA and remains on track to defend her title in the seven-furlong Filly & Mare Sprint.

“She’s tired, but she had to run the whole way yesterday,” Bradley said of Groupie Doll, who finished 1¾ lengths behind Judy the Beauty. “That was not her typical race yesterday. Usually she is just getting started the first quarter of a mile, but yesterday she was in against a couple of Polytrack professionals (in Judy the Beauty and Gypsy Robin).

“I was more concerned about yesterday’s race than the Breeders’ Cup,” he added. “Six furlongs is not her best distance and I think she is better on dirt. She shows brilliance on the dirt and on the Polytrack, she has run some good races and won a Grade 1 and a Grade 2 there.”

Bradley has scheduled one work for Groupie Doll on Saturday, Oct. 19 and plans to ship her to Santa Anita on Tuesday, Oct. 22.