Wise Dan Gets Whopping 128 Pounds for Firecracker

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Wise Dan wins the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic Wise Dan wins the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic

Horse of the Year Wise Dan breezed a “bullet” half-mile on the Polytrack at Keeneland on Saturday in :46.20 and later was named the 128-pound high weight for the 23rd running of the $150,000-added Firecracker Handicap (Grade II) at Churchill Downs on June 29 by Racing Secretary Ben Huffman.

“He worked really easily and went in hand without being asked to do too much,” trainer Charlie LoPresti said. “He’s doing as well as I could ask.

“The plan is still to go to the Firecracker, but I’ll need to discuss the weights with (owner/breeder) Mr. (Mort) Fink.”

Wise Dan has won his last six starts and five straight Grade I races. In his two starts of 2013, he won the Maker’s 46 Mile (GI) at Keeneland and then recorded a 4 ¾-length victory in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (GI) on Kentucky Derby Day. Overall, he has won 15 of his 22 starts and has a bankroll of $4,059,631.

A 6-year-old gelding by Wiseman’s Ferry, Wise Dan won the 2011 Firecracker at odds of more than 14-1 in his turf debut. No horse has won the Firecracker twice.

Weighted next at 123 pounds is Little Mike, winner of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf (GI). A 12-time winner with earnings of more than $3 million, Little Mike has finished off the board in his two starts this year, both of which came in Dubai.

Priscilla Vaccarezza’s Little Mike is not expected to enter the Firecracker and instead will point to the United Nations (GI) at Monmouth Park on July 6.

The next two high weights at 120 pounds are Za Approval and Optimizer.

Live Oak Plantation’s homebred Za Approval is coming off back-to-back wins in the Appleton (GIII) and Red Bank (GIII) and Calumet Farm’s Optimizer, a three-time Grade III winner, most recently finished second behind Point of Entry in the Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap (GI) at Belmont Park.

Other than Wise Dan, horses known to be under consideration for the Firecracker (with trainer and weight) include Corporate Jungle (Tom Proctor, 117), Lea (Al Stall Jr., 117), Daddy Nose Best (Steve Asmussen, 116), Seruni (Phil Oliver, 115), Laurie’s Rocket (D. Wayne Lukas, 114) and Dimension-GB (Conor Murphy, 113).

Entries for the Firecracker Handicap will be taken Wednesday, June 26.

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  • LongTimeEconomist

    128 is “whopping”? Kelso carried 128 or more 29 times and Forego 30 times. And opponents who chased them home were sometimes carrying more than 20 pounds less.

    • RayPaulick

      Everything is relative. When George Washington told his daddy he did not cut down the cherry tree, that was considered a whopper. Today, not so much.

      • LongTimeEconomist

        Ray, just as a matter of fun, when was the last time a horse in America carried 130 or more in a graded stakes handicap. And the Fall Highweight doesn’t count.

        • RayPaulick

          Wild guess: Skip Away?

          • LongTimeEconomist

            OK, he did it twice 15 years ago. All you bloggers out there, have you got anyone since then?

          • Edgk

            without research, Zenyatta and Azeri, two females. There are others as well.

  • Ida Lee

    Doesn’t matter. Wise Dan and his “porker” of a jockey will cross the finish line way before the skinny suckers, sorry I mean, challengers, finish.

  • Tinky

    LTE is understating the absurdity of characterizing 128lbs as “whopping”. Older NY-bred MAIDEN fillies often carry 124lbs. So the 2012 Eclipse Champion older male, which has returned to action this year as good as ever, is carrying TWO MORE POUNDS than horses worth a nickel that haven’t won a race. Oh, and two-year-olds in Europe carry 130lbs. in handicap races.

    The handicap race system in the U.S. is badly broken, has been for decades, and is a symptom of how poorly managed the sport is in this country.

  • Edgk

    Whopping?? Isn’t 126 lbs standard weight in a Grade 1(non-handicap) races? Perspectives: (A) Don’t race in a glorified Grade 3/Listed stakes race.(Races carrying Grade 2 status should not be allowed to have a 150k purse, that is a joke) (B) 126 lbs would be the bare minimum expected so what are 2 pounds? Here is the math: For a 170 lb man, it would be the equivalent of carrying a 4.6 ounce coin in his pocket, that is literal as in .0017 % of a 1200 lb horse is 2 lbs or .0017% of 170 lbs is 4.6 ounces. Would you cry a river if someone asked that of you? So if I left some change in my pocket when I ran a full paced 800 meters it would ruin me? Funny stuff.

    • First Watcher

      If Lopresti wasn’t more interested in keeping Wise Dan undefeated this year than in taking on all comers like a REAL HOY would, perhaps he wouldn’t have as much to whine about.
      Maybe he could enter WD in an Allowance/Optional Claimer to ensure his consecutive winning record stays intact.

  • Stephanie (giacomoin05)

    After watching Royal Ascot this week and seeing entries and weights for those races-this literally made me laugh out loud. Pat Cummings is probably losing his mind right now. 128 possibly too much weight. Too Funny.

  • jttf

    good company at 128. curlin and zenyatta.

  • LauraS

    Zenyatta carried 129 pounds to victory in her last two Vanity Handicaps (giving 13-18 lbs in 2009 and 9-18 in 2010) and also carried 127 in the Santa Margarita giving 11-17 lbs. One-twenty-nine would be five or six pounds above scale I believe.

    It is my firm belief that the high weight in a Grade I Handicap should never be less than scale weight – you then adjust that up to keep the bottom reasonable. For goodness sake, the two year olds at Royal Ascot were carrying 129!

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