LoPresti 'optimistic' about Wise Dan's comeback in Woodbine Mile
"Things are looking very positive. He's been working pretty steady if you follow his worktab," LoPresti said of the eight-year-old, who hasn't missed a beat since recording his first breeze back July 17, and most recently fired a bullet five furlongs at Keeneland in :59.
Wise Dan will be returning from a nearly year-long layoff in the Woodbine Mile, which he won in 2012 and 2013 (in a course-record 1:31.75). The future Hall of Famer didn't attempt a three-peat last year, during a 2014 campaign that was interrupted by emergency colic surgery. Back in action last August, Wise Dan shouldered the top weight of 127 pounds to a game victory in the Bernard Baruch (G2). After prevailing again in the Shadwell Turf Mile (G1), he suffered a non-displaced fracture in his right front fetlock, ending hopes of a three-peat in the Breeders' Cup Mile (G1).
"We've been monitoring the progress of his ankle and the radiographs all look good," LoPresti said. "We've had a couple of really strong works and we've checked him again and they looked good.
“I'm very excited about getting him back, but it's more about him than anything else. He's a super horse and he wants to do it. He showed all the indications in his healing process, and the way he trains, of how competitive he is. He's really happy. As long as he continues to be the horse that he is and continues to compete at that level we'll keep him running.
"I realize it’s a tough race to come back in a Grade 1, but he's done it so many times off the layoff. We’re optimistic. Hopefully, he'll keep going forward."
LoPresti also explained why the Woodbine Mile was chosen as his launching pad.
"It gave us time through the summer to get him fit and ready. He liked Woodbine so well and it gave us that extra time and, of course, it's a Breeders' Cup 'Win & You're In' race (for the Mile) so it just made a lot of sense for the horse.
"It's a wonderful turf course, he likes it, and he showed that both times he was up there. I talked to John Velazquez about it and he said that he really likes that turf and it would be a good place to bring him back."
Wise Dan is one of 31 nominated to the Woodbine Mile, which is also expected to feature Southern California speedball Obviously. Unraced since his fifth-place finish in last November's Breeders' Cup Mile, Obviously scratched from the Del Mar Mile (G2) in favor of this spot.
Other notable names on the list include Grand Arch, Ironicus, Seek Again and Mshawish -- all exiting the Fourstardave (G2) at Saratoga -- as well as Avanzare, Golden Sabre, Heart to Heart, Lea, Reload, Vyjack, and alumni of the local prep, the Play the King (G2), led by Reporting Star, Tower of Texas and Kaigun.
Several internationals also catch the eye, especially Arod, Lightning Spear, Mondialiste and Mr. Owen, so stay tuned for updates on which may actually turn up.
Wise Dan, shown winning the 2013 Woodbine Mile, courtesy of WEG/Michael Burns Photography.