The reigning Horse of the Year appeared in the entry box for Saturday's Grade II Firecracker Handicap at Churchill Downs. Whether Wise Dan will show up in Louisville for the 1-mile turf race is a decision still weighing on his connections.
After Wise Dan strolled to a 43/4-length victory in the Grade I Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill on May 4, the idea of contesting the Firecracker came up as a potential easy spot for the chestnut gelding before he heads to Saratoga to begin his second-half campaign.
On paper, none of the seven challengers entered for the $150,000-added Firecracker figure to offer much resistance to Morton Fink's homebred, he of the six career Grade I wins, the last five of which have come on turf.
But while Wise Dan's form continues to spark utmost confidence from trainer Charlie LoPresti, the fact the 6-year-old son of Wiseman's Ferry will carry a high weight of 128 pounds, conceding 11-15 pounds to his challengers, is inspiring some pause over whether it is worth it to shoulder such an albatross in a race that won't offer much prestige.
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The 128 pounds itself is not such a concern, LoPresti said, so much as the spread they will be giving up to the likes of Grade III winners Lea, who will carry 117 pounds, and Daddy Nose Best (116).
LoPresti said he and Fink will confer whether to start Wise Dan or wait for Saratoga.
"Mr. Fink and I are going to talk, and he will make the ultimate decision," LoPresti said Wednesday. "Whatever he wants to do, I am 100 percent behind him because the horse is good, the horse is in really good shape. I'm not worried about running him.
"He's going to have to give them 11-15 pounds, that's what I'm concerned about. It's not about putting the weight on him."
Wise Dan drew post No. 2 in the field and is slated to be ridden by his regular jockey, John Velazquez.
When: 10:11 p.m. Saturday
Where: Churchill Downs
For: 3-year-olds and up
Purse: $150,000 (Grade II)
Distance: 1 mile (turf)
PP Horse Jockey Wt.
1 Corporate JungleGarcia 117
2 Wise DanVelazquez128
3 Dimension Lebron 113
4 LeaHernandez 117
5 Finnegans WakeCastanon 116
6 Daddy Nose BestNapravnik 116
7 Seruni Lanerie 115
8 Ol Army Court 114