Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Its getting close to the 30th annual Breeders' Cup World Championships to held at Santa Anita the first weekend of November.
Last year's star was Wise Dan who won the Mile and was voted 2012 Horse of the Year as well as champion older male thoroughbred and male turf horse. The gelding, now 6 years old, has one more race before heading to California.
Saturday at Keeneland the champion grass runner faces nine in the Shadwell Turf Mile, an event he won last year prior to the Breeders' Cup. The fact that nine other horses will challenge Wise Dan at Keeneland shows no lack of courage among horsemen.
"Well, we've got to do it sooner or later if we're going to run out in the Breeders' Cup," trainer Dale Romans responded after being asked about racing against Wise Dan, "so we might as well do it now."
Romans has Silver Max entered in the Shadwell. The 4-year-old colt will start from right next to the champion who drew the far outside post in the 10-horse field.
"Silver Max is on his game again," Romans noted. "And, you know, last year, I danced every dance with him, I hit almost every 3-year-old turf race there was in the country and maybe wore him out a little bit by the end of the year. It took him a little while to get his feet back under him but the last couple of races have been phenomenal and, you know, we have all the respect in the world for Dan but we got to take him on and try him."
Unlike many other 4-year-olds, Silver Max has plenty of racing experience. Where as many of his contemporaries have no more than a dozen career starts, Romans will be putting the colt into his 22nd lifetime race.
Silver Max, owned by Mark Bacon and Dana Wells, had 10 starts in 2012 with seven wins and has six starts this year, winning half including the last two. The colt finished ninth last year to Wise Dan in the Shadwell, his first race versus older horses.
"I just think I asked him to do a little too much," Romans said about his horse's 3-year-old campaign. "And, you know, you get so excited about a horse like that and they're winning so easy, you don't think it's taking its toll on him, but he had run a lot of hard races and he puts it out there every time."
This will be the third time Silver Max will take on Wise Dan. Along with last year's Shadwell Turf Mile, the two horses ran in this year's Turf Classic at Churchill Downs where Silver Max finished seven lengths behind in fourth- place.
"He's an awfully good horse, there's no way to knock him, and they've done a great job with him, keeping him running and managed," said Romans on Wise Dan, "but it's hard to keep a horse at that level for as long a period of time as he's stayed there, and it shows a lot of good horsemanship that's around him. I think you can consider him a superhorse, though, and I don't think there's been that many superhorses."
The morning-line for the Shadwell shows Wise Dan as the 2-5 favorite, but Silver Max is a solid second pick at 6-1.