Overcoming a slow start that saw him well behind going into the far turn, champion Wise Dan made a strong late move to score in the Grade 1, $1 million Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland on Saturday.
Breaking awkwardly and coming out at the rear of the field, Wise Dan and regular rider John Velazquez navigated through the pack up the backstretch, finding themselves mid-pack as they reached the far turn. The two-time Horse of the Year angled out at the top of the stretch, mowing down the rest of the field to win pulling away at the end.
“He just threw his head to the opposite side and the doors opened, so he got surprised and he didn't break very good,” said Velazquez. “And now I'm a little concerned, because now I'm going to be behind horses that are slower than he's supposed to be. I was hoping he would settle going into the first turn. I let him run a little to the first turn. When I got a nice position, I tried to slow him down behind horses.
“The whole way down the backside I was worried he would clip heels because he was pretty strong. I was saying. 'Buddy, be easy, easy, easy.' Once I pulled him out of there, he kicked his usual kick. When I pulled him out, he was there for me.”
Grand Arch and Sayaad were second and third, respectively. Final time for the mile on turf was 1:35.62.
This was the 7-year-old gelding's fifth straight win, and his second victory since undergoing colic surgery earlier this year. The Shadwell score, his 23rd victory, pushed the Charlie LoPresti trainee's lifetime earnings past $7 million.
“His head was turned sideways, and he missed the break a little bit but that's what happened to him in the Breeders' Cup (Mile, G1) last year. He stumbled,” LoPresti said after the race. “I was a little worried down the backside. Silver Max got a slow quarter (mile time) up front. I thought, 'Man, somebody's got to go.' He's just an incredible horse. He's incredible. That's all I can say. Thank God.
“The way this unfolded, for him to win the way he did, he ran a great race. (Jockey) Johnny (Velazquez) did a great job. He didn't panic (over being behind). It was the same kind of thing that happened in the Breeders' Cup last year. He kinda stumbled a few steps out of the gate and wasn't where we wanted him to be but he still overcame it.”
In a post-race interview on NBC Sports, owner Morton Fink indicated that the gelding would head to Santa Anita to contend for a third consecutive victory in the Breeders' Cup Mile. The Shadwell was a Win and You're In event for the Mile.
Bred in Kentucky by Fink, Wise Dan is a son of Wiseman's Ferry and out of Lisa Danielle, by Wolf Power.
David Moran, rider aboard second-place finisher Grand Arch, had plenty of praise for both his mount and the winner.
“Turning for home, I thought I had a big chance but Wise Dan came by me very, very fast,” Moran said. “My horse kept grinding. He ran huge. He's a hard knocker. If anyone was going to beat us today, it had to be Dan.”
Kaigun was fourth, followed by Silver Max, Seek Again, Optimizer, and Two Notch Road.
View the full Equibase chart here.
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