Wise Dan dusts solid field in Keeneland's Shadwell Turf Mile

awincze@herald-leader.comOctober 6, 2012 

  • IF YOU GO

    Keeneland Fall Meet

    When: Oct. 5-27. Gates open at 11 a.m. Post time for the first race is 1:05 p.m.; races are run approximately every half hour. Closed Mon., Tue.

    Where: Keeneland Race Course, 4201 Versailles Rd.

    Tickets: $5 general admission, free for children 12 and younger

    Learn more: (859) 254-3412. Keeneland.com.

    STAKES RACES

    Oct. 5-7: Fall Stars Weekend. Keeneland's richest weekend of racing, featuring nine stakes races worth more than $3 million in total purses.

    ■ $175,000 Stoll Keenon and Ogden Stakes (G3). 4:49 p.m. Oct. 5.

    ■ $400,000 Darley Alcibiades (G1). 5:21 p.m. Oct. 5.

    ■ $150,000 Woodford Stakes. 3:13 p.m. Oct. 6.

    ■ $200,000 Thoroughbred Club of America (G2). 3:45 p.m. Oct. 6.

    ■ $350,000 First Lady (G1) stakes. 4:17 p.m. Oct. 6.

    ■ $400,000 Dixiana Breeders' Futurity (G1). 4:49 p.m. Oct. 6.

    ■ $750,000 Shadwell Turf Mile (G1). 5:21 p.m. Oct. 6.

    ■ $150,000 Bourbon Stakes (G3). 4:17 p.m. Oct. 7.

    ■ $500,000 Juddmonte Spinster (G1). 4:49 p.m. Oct. 7.

    Oct. 11: $150,000 JPMorgan Chase Jessamine Stakes (G3). 4:49 p.m.

    Oct. 12: $100,000 Buffalo Trace Franklin County Stakes. 5:21 p.m.

    Oct. 13: $400,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes (G1). 5:21 p.m.

    Oct. 18: $100,000 Sycamore Stakes (G3). 4:49 p.m.

    Oct. 19: $150,000 Pin Oak Valley View (G3). 5:21 p.m.

    Oct. 20: $250,000 Lexus Raven Run (G2). 5:27 p.m.

    Oct. 21: $125,000 Rood and Riddle Dowager Stakes. 4:49 p.m.

    Oct. 27: $150,000 Fayette Stakes (G2). 5:21 p.m.

    SPECIAL EVENTS

    Highlights of the fall meet

    Oct. 5, 12, 19, 26: Friday Happy Hour. 5 p.m.-midnight. Paddock. Live music by Roger BonDurant (Oct. 5), Willie Eames (Oct. 12), American Trio (Oct. 19) and Chris Campbell Duo (Oct. 26); simulcast racing from Santa Anita, Golden Gate and Hawthorne.

    Oct. 6, 13, 20, 27: Sunrise Trackside. Activities before racing starts.

    ■ Breakfast With the Works. 7-8:30 a.m. Equestrian Dining Room. $7, free for kids 3 and younger. Trackside show-and-tell with farrier Hans Albrecht.

    ■ Children's activities. 7-9 a.m. Visit the Kids Club Corner and meet Buckles, the Keeneland mascot. Free activities and crafts with the Explorium of Lexington adjacent to the Equestrian Dining Room.

    ■ Tours. 8:30-10:30 a.m. A new event gives fans a walking tour of Keeneland with guides throughout the grounds.

    ■ Paddock demonstration. 8:45 a.m. Saddling paddock. Live educational equine demonstration by Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital (Oct. 6, 13), Old Friends equine retirement facility (Oct. 20) and Mustang Troop (Oct. 27).

    ■ Photos with Bucky the Bugler. 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Paddock area.

    ■ Handicapping seminar. 11:30 a.m. Trackside.

    ■ Jockey Q&A. 12:05 p.m. Walking Ring.

    Oct. 10: Make-a-Wish Day. All day. Nine Make-a-Wish Foundation children present trophies.

    Oct. 10: Wine, Women and Shoes. 5-9 p.m. Keene Barn and Entertainment Center. Shopping marketplace, wine, fashion show by Saks Fifth Avenue Cincinnati. $100-$150; benefits Lexington Cancer Foundation. 1-888-388-2620. Winewomenandshoes.com/lexington2012.

    Oct. 11: Race for Education. All day. Learn about scholarships from the organization.

    Oct. 12: College Scholarship Day. All day. Free admission to college students with ID, live music, giveaway of 10 $1,000 scholarships.

    Oct. 12: Buffalo Trace Giveaway. All day. Enter to win a "VIP Experience" at the Frankfort distillery. Oct. 13: Bucky Sallee Salute. 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Paddock area. Free photos and autographs with Keeneland's longtime bugler. Souvenir programs available.

    Oct. 13: Lexus Test Drive. 6:30- 9 a.m. Clubhouse parking area. Test-drive a Lexus.

    Oct. 14: Meet Plum Pretty. All day. Paddock area. Meet the 2011 Kentucky Oaks winner.

    Oct. 18: Jockey Autograph Signing. 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Adjacent to Paddock. Jockeys will autograph $10 Jockey Colony prints. Proceeds benefit Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.

    Oct. 19: See Blue Day. All day. Free general admission for UK students, alumni and faculty; activities for all Wildcat fans. Autograph signing with Denver Bronco and former UK star Jacob Tamme, UK cheerleaders and more, noon-3 p.m., North Terrace. UK/Keeneland tumblers available for $15; benefits UK's DanceBlue fund-raiser.

    Oct. 21: Military Family Day. All day. Free general admission for active and inactive military and their families with ID. Free food, live music and activities on North Terrace.

    Oct. 26: Fan Appreciation Day. 11 a.m.-2 p.m., North Terrace. First 3,000 patrons get a free sample of bread pudding.

    Oct. 27: Fashions on the Field. All day. Sales Pavilion. In a new event, top dressed patrons will vie to be named Keeneland's best dressed patrons after strutting their stuff in front of celebrity judges. Fashionattheraces.com.

As Charlie Lopresti emerged from the Keeneland tunnel shortly after the conclusion of Saturday's Grade I Shadwell Turf Mile, the trainer was greeted by a small group of fans making their opinion known as to which Breeders' Cup race they believe should be next for his heralded charge Wise Dan.

Despite the playful chants of "Classic" tossed his way, Lopresti maintains a start in the $2 million Mile rather than the $5 million headliner is still the leading objective.

But given the way Wise Dan once again dismantled a field of accomplished runners with his now customary ease, Lopresti understands why many want to see if the horse already considered the best turf miler in the country is the best North American horse in training, period.

The debate over whether or not Wise Dan should have run in the $750,000 Shadwell Turf Mile was silenced by the chestnut gelding himself with a 21/4-length triumph over long shot Willcox Inn and 10 others Saturday.

While Lopresti initially considered training Wise Dan up to this year's Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita Park following his 31/4- length victory in the Grade I Woodbine Mile on Sept. 16, the decision to go in the Shadwell essentially served as a paid exercise for the gelded son of Wiseman's Ferry.

After saving ground midpack early and then moving out under jockey Jose Lezcano to mow down rivals with a sweeping move around the far turn, Wise Dan has many wondering if there are any limits to what the Grade I winner on turf and dirt can accomplish.

"Every time I run him, every day I'm around him I say, 'Wow, he really is a good horse,'" said Lopresti, who conditions Morton Fink's homebred. "I knew if he got beat (in the Shadwell) they were going to bash me. But I had to run him somewhere because with the way he trained, I couldn't hold him on the ground until the Breeders' Cup.

"This was a tough bunch of horses, some good horses in there coming off of good races. Every time he runs he surprises me."

Realistically, Wise Dan's performance as the 4-to-5 favorite in the Shadwell was in no way a shocker. The ease with which he goes about his work is what continues to amaze.

Since running fourth in last year's Shadwell — his only defeat in five turf starts — Wise Dan's lone loss in his last seven outings came when he was beaten a head by Ron the Greek in the Grade I Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs in June. There he was carried out wide in the stretch by Nates Mineshaft.

With Lezcano subbing for regular rider John Velazquez, who had a prior commitment to ride in New York, Wise Dan appeared to extend at will over the firm turf, hitting the wire in 1:34.94.

"He wasn't always easy. When he was 3 and 4, he had Charlie pulling his hair out a bit," said Charlie's wife and chief assistant Amy Lopresti. "This year... he's just grown up. (Exercise rider) Damien Rock and Johnny have done just a fabulous job getting him to relax."

Though Lopresti said his main concern with a possible Breeders' Cup Classic try would be the 11/4-mile distance and how the gelding might handle that main track, he isn't ruling out the chance Wise Dan's ability could render those obstacles moot.

"I just want to do what is right for him, and I wouldn't run him in a race just (to try to win) Horse of the Year," Lopresti said. "I want to put him in the best logical spot for him to win."

Alicia Wincze Hughes: (859) 231-1676. Blog: horseracing.bloginky.com.

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