The reigning two-time Horse of the Year is not at his peak just yet. In trainer Charlie LoPresti's ideal world, he would put another form-tightening breeze into his champion before seeing how the gelding's now 7-year-old ability is holding up.
A less-than-cranked version of Wise Dan still elicited some unprintable utterances of disbelief from LoPresti as he blew out 3 furlongs in 35 seconds over the Keeneland Polytrack on Tuesday morning. If last year's outing in the Grade I Maker's 46 Mile was any indication, the premier horse in North America can afford to be less than fully fit and still devastate those in his path.
For the second straight year, champion Wise Dan is slated to use Friday's $300,000 Maker's 46 Mile as his season debut. Morton Fink's six-time Eclipse Award-winning homebred drew post No. 3 in a field of seven entered Tuesday as he attempts to defend his title in the 1-mile turf test.
LoPresti said Wise Dan was only about 75 percent fit when the copper-colored Wiseman's Ferry gelding won last year's Maker's 46 by a length. While LoPresti hasn't leaned hard on his stable star going into his 2014 debut, he is suitably impressed by the ease at which his resident freak goes about his training.
"I'd say the last 10 days he's been on it. He's like 'Come on let's do something here,'" LoPresti said. "What I've seen in the last two breezes ... it's like he switched on the switch. I'd like to have one more breeze honestly, but I was kind of that way last year.
"He's fit enough to run and I feel like if everything goes right, he's fit enough to win."
Grade I winner Lochte and Za Approval, runner-up to Wise Dan in the 2013 Breeders' Cup Mile, are among those slated to test the champion — weather permitting. LoPresti has cautioned he could scratch Wise Dan and point for the Grade III Ben Ali Stakes on April 19 as a Plan B if a deluge of rain were to soak the course Friday.
Medal Count to Blue Grass Stakes
Medal Count, winner of the Grade III Transylvania Stakes on Keeneland's opening day last Friday, will be entered in Saturday's Grade I Toyota Blue Grass Stakes, trainer Dale Romans confirmed Tuesday.
Owned by Spendthrift Farm, Medal Count won the 11⁄16-mile Transylvania by 11/4 lengths for his first graded stakes win in six career starts.
"He had really good energy today, he was feeling good," Romans said after Friday's race. "If everything stays status quo, I don't see any reason he wouldn't run."
Alicia Wincze Hughes: (859) 231-1676. Blog: horseracing.bloginky.com. Twitter: @horseracinghl.