Trainer Charlie Lopresti sent top Breeders' Cup Mile contender Wise Dan through an Oct. 20 breeze at Keeneland in final preparation for his upcoming bid at the World Championships, and the versatile runner responded with usual alacrity.
Out on the Polytrack oval under cover of darkness around 6:30 a.m., Wise Dan sailed through a smooth five furlongs in 1:00 2/5 with no company under exercise rider Damien Rock. With tremendous reach and a powerful stride, he finished the last eighth in :12 flat and galloped out in what Lopresti caught as 1:13 4/5. Keeneland clockers gave official splits of :12, :23 3/5, :35 3/5, :47 3/5, and out six furlongs in 1:13 2/5.
Back at the barn, Wise Dan strolled the shedrow with hardly a sign of exertion.
"That's why the clockers just shake their heads, and you saw how he does it," Lopresti remarked. "He looks like he's just loping along. That's just the way he is."
It was Wise Dan's first work since romping in the $750,000 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland Oct. 6, and will be his only official training move leading up to the $2 million Mile Nov. 3 on the turf at Santa Anita Park. The 6-year-old Wiseman's Ferry gelding will ship to California from Lexington Oct. 30.
"If he's not fit enough now, he's never going to be," Lopresti said. "There's not much more I can do to
tighten him up."
Lopresti rolled Wise Dan into his last start off a Sept. 16 score over international company in the $1 million Ricoh Woodbine Mile. That win came after a five-length victory in the Aug. 11 Fourstardave at Saratoga Race Course. Both the Shadwell and the Woodbine Mile were Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" events, guaranteeing a berth in the Breeders' Cup Mile to the winner.
"He's just perfect, right where I want to be," Lopresti said of Wise Dan's morning move. "That's why I did it this way. He had that one race in the Shadwell; that eliminated me having to breeze him three times. He only has to breeze this one time and he runs off that."
After yet again witnessing Wise Dan's intensity without urging from the rider, the trainer expounded upon the gelding's natural tendency to blitz through works.
"I told [Damien] he didn't have to do much, just whatever he wanted to do comfortably, but he flew home and he doesn't even look like it, does he?" he said. "That's why I don't like to breeze him very often. That's what he did at Saratoga. They got him seven furlongs at Saratoga one day in 1:22 on the turf."
As the years have progressed, so has Wise Dan, who ended last season with a Grade 1 victory in the Clark Handicap on dirt at Churchill Downs and started 2012 by romping by 10 1/2 lengths in the Ben Ali Stakes on Polytrack.
"He's just gotten good and he gets better all the time," Lopresti remarked. "He's easy to train, really, now that I've got him figured out. Less is more. It's better to do less with him. He's just a lot more comfortable
now because he's older and more confident."
Bred in Kentucky by owner Morton Fink out of Fink's only mare, the Wolf Power daughter Lisa Danielle, Wise Dan will head to the Breeders' Cup Mile as the likely favorite with a 12-1 record from 19 starts and career earnings of $2,461,638. This year he has four wins and a second, to multiple Grade 1 winner Ron the Greek in the June 16 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill, to his credit.
"Tomorrow he'll walk; I'll just piddle around with him all week," Lopresti said. "Now it it's just about keeping him happy."