Morton Fink’s two-time reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan will seek to become the second two-time winner of the Grade I, $500,000-added Woodford Reserve Turf Classic on Saturday when he faces nine foes in the 29th running of the 1 1/8-mile race.
The Woodford Reserve Turf Classic, along with the Grade I $300,000-added Humana Distaff, anchors a five stakes undercard leading up to the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday’s 13-race program. First post Saturday is 10:30 a.m. (all times Eastern).
Trained by Charlie LoPresti, Wise Dan opened his 2014 the same way he did last year: with a victory in the Grade I Maker’s 46 Mile at Keeneland on April 11. The chestnut son of Wiseman’s Ferry will break from the rail in the field of 10, though he won from the inside at Churchill last year in the Grade II Firecracker Handicap.
“I will just leave it in (jockey) Johnny (Velazquez’s) hands he knows what he needs to do,” LoPresti said. “I would say (his three furlong work Tuesday) one of his best workouts ever.He worked super, super one of his best workouts of the year going into this race. He was well in hand and full of run.”
A winner of 20 of 28 career starts for earnings of $6,473,610, Wise Dan will try to join Einstein as the only two-time winner of the race. Einstein won the 2008 and 2009 renewals.
Chief among Wise Dan’s rivals are Juddmonte Farms’ Seek Again, Gary Barber’s Boisterous and Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Admral Kitten.
Seek Again began his career in Europe and in his U.S. debut won the Grade I Hollywood Derby in what was his most recent start. Now trained by Bill Mott, Seek Again will break from post position 10 and be ridden by Joel Rosario.
Boisterous counts the 2013 edition of the Grade I Man o’ War among his graded stakes victories. Now trained by Todd Pletcher, Boisterous will break from post position seven and be ridden by Javier Castellano.
Julien Leparoux will be aboard 2013 Grade I Secretariat winner Admiral Kitten for trainer Mike Maker and break from post position four.
The field for the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic, from the hedge out, is as follows: Wise Dan (Velazquez, 124 pounds), Bright Thought (Victor Espinoza, 120), Guys Reward (Corey Lanerie, 120), Admiral Kitten (Leparoux, 120), Kaigun (Alan Garcia, 118), Moro Tap (Rosie Napravnik, 118), Boisterous (Castellano, 120), Finnegans Wake (Mike Smith, 118), Skyring (Joe Rocco Jr., 122) and Seek Again (Rosario, 122).