Trainer Charlie LoPresti said Thursday he would not run Wise Dan in the Grade II Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga Race Course on Aug. 9.
"Nothing at all wrong with him," LoPresti said of the defending two-time Horse of the Year. "But when I got up here (to Saratoga) and really started thinking about the work tab and everything, I realized I'd really be pushing him to do it. I'd have to make this work, then squeeze another short breeze into him, and I didn't think it was fair to the horse to push him to make that race. And I don't think he's on it as good as he could be.
Wise Dan has had three timed workouts since undergoing colic surgery at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington on May 16, the most recent being a 5-furlong breeze in 1:03.72 over the turf training track at Saratoga last Friday. While the 7-year-old gelded son of Wiseman's Ferry is sound and healthy, LoPresti didn't think his charge was progressing fast enough in time for the 1-mile Fourstardave — a race Wise Dan has won the past two years — and didn't want to push Morton Fink's homebred too soon into his recovery.
"His blood work is good, he's sound, but he's not the Dan that we know that is dragging (exercise rider) Damien (Rock) around here," he said. "I don't want to do something stupid and jeopardize the rest of the year to make this one race. He has nothing to prove to anybody."
LoPresti said he would look at the Grade II Bernard Baruch, going 11⁄16 miles on the turf at Saratoga on Aug. 30, as a possible comeback start for Wise Dan. He also could wait until the Grade I Woodbine Mile on Sept. 14.
Trainer Catalano improving
Trainer Wayne Catalano, hospitalized at St. Alexius Medical Center in Illinois since last week with acute pneumonia and a severe case of influenza A, has regained consciousness and is responsive, his son-in-law, jockey Channing Hill, posted on his Twitter account Thursday.
"Docs took Wayne's breathing tube out and took him off sedatives today," posted Hill, who is married to Catalano's daughter Shelbi. "He is fully conscious and responding very well to questions."
Catalano had been in an induced coma to assist his body in receiving oxygen. Shelbi Hill posted Monday on Facebook that "each day my dad is progressing in the right direction."
Additional positive news came Thursday when Catalano recorded his 1,000th victory at Arlington Park when Royal Alluvial scored a 5-length victory in the day's second race. Catalano had earned Arlington win No. 999 when Susan Moulton's first-time starter Bella Ranger took the opener.
Catalano has been the leading trainer at Arlington 11 times and has conditioned such notable runners as champions Dreaming of Anna and She Be Wild. He is now second to the retired Richard Hazelton (1,181) in Arlington's all-time trainer standings.
According to statistics from Equibase, Catalano has 2,531 winners overall.