August has been penciled in as the month when two-time defending Horse of the Year Wise Dan would make his anticipated return to the races after undergoing emergency colic surgery on May 16. While trainer Charlie LoPresti expects that scenario to materialize, exactly which contest the six-time Eclipse Award winner will end up in is something his connections are still weighing.
Wise Dan put in his third timed workout since his surgery, breezing five furlongs in 1:03.72 over the turf training course at Saratoga under regular exercise rider Damien Rock Friday morning.
The final time wasn’t anything to light up the watches, especially when compared to Wise Dan’s usual moves. However, LoPresti said he didn’t believe the course was playing particularly fast and that he was still pleased with how the 7-year-old gelded son of Wiseman’s Ferry finished up in the lane.
“He went good. It wasn’t blistering fast but the clockers caught him coming home good,” said LoPresti when reached in Saratoga on Friday. “I think he came home in 24 and change. And he galloped out really good. I don’t think this turf is extremely fast right now based on what all the other hroses worked in. But he’s pretty unconcerned. He walked home, didn’t act like he did anything. He wasn’t stressed in any way, we just scoped him he was clean. We were hapy with it.”
LoPresti added that Rock said Wise Dan “slipped a little bit around the turn, there was a little bit of a soft place. But he said just for two strides he slipped, then grabbed him and took off again and never took a bad step after that.”
The Grade II Fourstardave Handicap on August 9, a race Wise Dan has won the last two years, has been targeted as a likely spot for Morton Fink’s homebred to make his return. LoPresti has expressed some concern about the amount of weight Wise Dan could be assigned over his rivals and reiterated on Friday they will take a wait-and-see approach before committing the champion gelding to any spot.
“You know, I’m not trying to persuade them (the racing secretaries) to do anything,” LoPresti said. “If this horse was coming into this race without a colic surgery and coming off another race, I wouldn’t have any problem with them putting more weight on him. But I don’t want to throw him to the wolves first time out. No one has told me anything yet. But I think they all know I’m concerned about the weights. ”
LoPresti has previously stated the Grade II Bernard Baruch Handicap at Saratoga on August 30 could be a backup option if Wise Dan doesn’t go in the Fourstardave or that he could even wait until the Grade I Woodbine Mile on September 14.
“I think they (Saratoga) want him to run here,” LoPresti said. “Whether he runs or not, depends on how he comes out of this work and I probably have one more work to work him at. I didn’t bring him up here to for sure run him in the Fourstardave. I brought him up here to train him and get him further along with the idea of running him in the Fourstardave if everything looks right. But he looks fine. He’s eating good and he’s happy.”
Wise Dan opened his 2014 campaign with triumphs in the Grade I Maker’s 46 Mile at Keeneland on April 11 and Grade I Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on May 3. The chestnut gelding has 21 wins, including 10 Grade I scores, from 29 career starts with $6,802,920 in earnings.