In his second timed move since his comeback win in last month's Grade II Bernard Baruch Handicap, two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan worked 5 furlongs in a bullet 1:01.20 over a firm Keeneland turf Tuesday morning in preparation for his expected start in the Grade I, $1 million Shadwell Turf Mile on Oct. 4.
The move was the second bullet work Wise Dan has fired since his nose victory over Optimizer in the Bernard Baruch at Saratoga on Aug. 30, a race that marked the first start for the 7-year-old champion gelding since undergoing emergency colic surgery May 16.
With regular exercise rider Damien Rock in the irons Tuesday, Wise Dan recorded splits of 24.80 seconds and :38 working "around the "dogs" with a gallop out in 1:15.
(The "dogs" are pylons set up on the track to keep horses away from the rail.)
"It went really good," trainer Charlie LoPresti said of the move. "They (Keeneland) have the dogs out further than they've ever been and it was funny because when they came around the turn, he wanted to take Damien to the inside so he cut the corner and really finished strong. Damien had to grab him because he wanted to cut to the inside but he finished up really good."
LoPresti said he is toying with working the gelded son of Wiseman's Ferry one more time on the dirt before the Shadwell, but added "we'll just see how he comes out of this one."
Wise Dan won the 2012 Shadwell Turf Mile en route to earning the first of his back-to-back victories in the Breeders' Cup Mile. A title defense in the Mile has been the goal for the chestnut gelding this season. However, with the handicap division falling apart this year — defending Breeders' Cup Classic winner Mucho Macho Man, Game On Dude and Will Take Charge all retired and fellow Grade I winners Lea, Moonshine Mullin and Palace Malice are sidelined — there will be a groundswell of pundits hoping to see Wise Dan take a swing at this year's $5 million Classic at Santa Anita Park.
"All I can tell you is I take it one race at a time," LoPresti said when asked if he was entertaining any thoughts of a Classic run. "But I can tell you this, this horse is training better on the dirt than I've ever seen him. He did that at Saratoga, and all of his major workouts have been on dirt this year. But we haven't got that far.
"I want to get through this race on Oct. 4 and then we'll have a better idea after that."
Prior to his colic surgery in May, Wise Dan opened his 2014 campaign with wins in the Grade I Maker's 46 Mile at Keeneland in April and the Grade I Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on May 3. A 10-time Grade I winner, Wise Dan has 22 wins from 30 career starts with earnings of $6,952,920.