There is nothing obviously different about the mood at Keeneland's Barn 70 these days, and trainer Charlie Lopresti tries to keep it that way.
Never mind that of the 16 horses in Lopresti's stable, two are Breeders' Cup bound for Churchill Downs on Nov. 5-6, or that if you go by percentages, there is no trainer on the grounds having a better meet.
"I keep telling myself every day, 'You're very lucky Charlie to have these horses,' " Lopresti said outside his barn Tuesday morning. "Every day you walk in the barn they are sound and doing good, but it could end tomorrow.
"When you start thinking it's you and you get too high, that's when it goes to pieces."
Years of experience have taught Lopresti to keep such a mindset.
It has also taught the Lexington-based conditioner that as much as he needs to keep times like these in perspective, it is equally important to savor them.
His humble nature doesn't allow Loprestri to do much bragging, but his numbers do it for him.
Lopresti's compact stable has produced four winners from five starters through the first eight days of the Keene-land meet, and since Aug. 14 Lopresti's barn is 9-for-15.
Lopresti has also saddled two of his three career graded stakes winners during that time. On Sept. 4, the improving Here Comes Ben won the Grade I Forego Stakes at Saratoga and on Keeneland's opening weekend, Wise Dan — a half brother to fellow Grade III winner and stablemate Successful Dan — took the Grade III Phoenix Stakes going 6 furlongs in what was just his fourth career start.
With Here Comes Ben heading to the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile and Wise Dan to the Breeders' Cup Sprint, Lopresti's banner year might not have reached its pinnacle.
"It is pretty incredible. It just seemed like it turned around for us this year and they're all doing good at the right time," Lopresti said. "If you look back, Here Comes Ben last year he was doing good, he had a third first time out and we gave him the winter off and he came back. Wise Dan broke his maiden by 151/4 lengths, but then he got hurt so we gave him the summer off and he's come back real good.
"It's been the last couple years where we could tell these horses had potential."
While he could certainly be in a position to pick up additional clients right now, Lopresti has never had ambitions of a super-sized stable.
Since taking out his trainer's license in 1993 after working for such established operations as Brookside Farm and Domino Stud, Lopresti has maintained a small number of horses and developed a reputation for taking his time with his prospects.
It is not uncommon for Lopresti's horses to make their race debuts as 3-year-olds. And if they need more than just standard racetrack recuperation time, his Forest Lane Farm is only about 20 minutes from Keeneland.
"I just feel like I can do a better job seeing them all myself every day, not that the big guys don't do a good job," Lopresti said. "For some people, that works for them, but I'd be overwhelmed if I had 100 horses."
To his credit, Lopresti can also tell when his horses are overwhelmed.
Though he was a steady performer a year ago, Here Comes Ben still took longer to get used to racetrack life than most of his brethren.
After closing out 2009 with a fifth-place finish in the Prairie Bayou Stakes at Turfway in December, the 4-year-old Street Cry colt didn't return until April when he won a 7-furlong allowance race at Keeneland — the first of four wins in as many tries this year.
Although all of Here Comes Ben's victories have come in 7-furlong races this season, Lopresti favors stretching him out to a one-turn mile in the Breeders' Cup rather than shortening up to 6 furlongs in the Sprint.
"He is not a 6-furlong horse, I still don't believe," Lopresti said. "He broke his maiden in a one-turn mile at Churchill (in June 2009). All of his (recent) races have been 7 furlongs, he's been strong at the track and he loves that track. And then Wise Dan came along (for the Sprint).
"It's going really good right now. We got a good chance at it (the Breeders' Cup). A good chance."