Trainer Charlie LoPresti is tentatively planning an August return to racing for two-time defending Horse of the Year Wise Dan, but hasn't decided which race he'll run.
On Friday morning, Wise Dan put in his third timed workout since his emergency surgery for colic on May 16, breezing 5 furlongs in 1:03.72 over the turf training course at Saratoga under regular exercise rider Damien Rock.
The time wasn't anything to light up the watches, especially when compared to Wise Dan's usual moves. However, LoPresti said he didn't believe the course was playing particularly fast and that he was still pleased with how the 7-year-old gelded son of Wiseman's Ferry finished up in the lane.
"He went good. It wasn't blistering fast but the clockers caught him coming home good," said LoPresti when reached at Saratoga on Friday. "I think he came home in 24 and change. And he galloped out really good. I don't think this turf is extremely fast right now based on what all the other horses worked in. But he's pretty unconcerned. He walked home, didn't act like he did anything. He wasn't stressed in any way, we just scoped him, he was clean. We were happy with it."
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LoPresti added that Rock said Wise Dan "slipped a little bit around the turn, there was a little bit of a soft place. But he said just for two strides he slipped, then grabbed him and took off again and never took a bad step after that."
The Grade II Fourstardave Handicap on Aug. 9, a race Wise Dan has won the past two years, has been targeted as a probable spot for Morton Fink's homebred to make his return. LoPresti has expressed some concern about the amount of weight Wise Dan could be assigned over his rivals and reiterated Friday they will take a wait-and-see approach before committing the champion gelding to any spot.
"You know, I'm not trying to persuade them (the racing secretaries) to do anything," LoPresti said. "If this horse was coming into this race without a colic surgery and coming off another race, I wouldn't have any problem with them putting more weight on him. But I don't want to throw him to the wolves first time out. No one has told me anything yet. But I think they all know I'm concerned about the weights."
LoPresti has previously said the Grade II Bernard Baruch Handicap at Saratoga on Aug. 30 could be a backup option if Wise Dan doesn't go in the Fourstardave, or that he could even wait until the Grade I Woodbine Mile on Sept. 14.
"I think they (Saratoga) want him to run here," LoPresti said. "Whether he runs or not depends on how he comes out of this work, and I probably have one more work to work him at. I didn't bring him up here to for sure run him in the Fourstardave. I brought him up here to train him and get him further along with the idea of running him in the Fourstardave if everything looks right. But he looks fine. He's eating good and he's happy."
Wise Dan opened his 2014 campaign with wins in the Grade I Maker's 46 Mile at Keeneland on April 11 and Grade I Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on May 3. The chestnut gelding has 21 wins, including 10 Grade I scores, from 29 career starts with $6,802,920 in earnings.