Two-time horse of the year Wise Dan returns to work

Looking as if he “never missed a day” according to trainer Charlie LoPresti, two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan put in his first timed workout of the year on Monday, covering three furlongs in 36 flat at Keeneland.

Wise Dan returned to LoPresti’s Keeneland shedrow a couple weeks ago after getting his usual winter time off on his conditioner’s Lexington-based farm. In typical form, Morton Fink’s homebred gelding went through his first major move with freakish ease.

“He worked really good. He went just :12s, :12s, :12s every pole and was sure full of himself pulling up,” LoPresti said Tuesday. “It was like he never missed a day. He could have went a half in 48 if I had asked him to without even blinking an eye.”

Wise Dan swept the Eclipse Awards for champion turf male, champion older male and horse of the year for a second consecutive season when honors were handed out in January after a 2013 campaign that saw him win six of seven starts. Included in his four Grade I wins last season was a course-record triumph in the Woodbine Mile and his second straight victory in the Breeders’ Cup Mile.

LoPresti said that barring bad weather or a physical setback, Wise Dan could open his season in the Grade I Maker’s 46 Mile at Keeneland in April, the same race he won last year to kick off that championship campaign. Doing right by the 7-year-old gelded son of Wiseman’s Ferry, though, remains priority No. 1.

“I’m going to look at my first race back and then go from there,” LoPresti said. “If weather permits and we don’t have any hiccups, maybe he’ll run in the Maker’s, maybe he’ll run in the Woodford (Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on May 3); He could even show up in the (Grade II) Alysheba (at Churchill on May 2). I just don’t know.

“Ideally, my choice would be to run him in the same race he came back in last year. That’s my choice. But I’m going to be real careful how many times I run him this year and where I run him.”

He has dominated the turf ranks the last two seasons, but Wise Dan also is a Grade I winner on dirt, having taken the 2011 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs. LoPresti said the most likely opportunity for the chestnut stunner to possibly try dirt this year would occur during the Saratoga meeting.

“I’m thinking probably, in a perfect world we would do the same sort of schedule (as last year) and then when we got to Saratoga maybe we make a  little bit different change,” LoPresti said. “Who knows, maybe we get to Saratoga this year and he trains really well on dirt. I wanted to try him on dirt there last year.”

This past Saturday also saw Wise Dan’s older half brother, Successful Dan, put in his first work of the year when he covered three furlongs in :39.20 at Keeneland. A multiple graded stakes winner himself, 8-year-old Successful Dan has battled suspensory problems over the years and has not run since finishing third in the Grade I Woodward at Saratoga in August.

“Successful Dan came out of his work good, both of them are really good right now,” LoPresti said.