Nelson McMakin's Pleuven earned his first graded stakes victory in Saturday night's Grade 2 Wise Dan Stakes, crossing the wire with a three-quarter-length advantage. The 5-year-old gelded son of Turtle Bowl covered 1 1/16 miles in 1:40.96 for trainer Phil Sims, after splitting horses mid-stretch under Channing Hill.
“He likes the distance, he tries hard,” said trainer Sims. “We didn't really know what we had until we started training him. He's really on it all the time. He loves to train and loves to run. He's very competitive. We knew that it would be tough but we were kind of like, 'Hey this horse deserves a shot.' (Jockey) Channing (Hill) gets him to relax real well.”
Wise Dan was on-hand to greet the runners of the race named in his honor. He paraded the paddock with them prior to the race.
Prominently placed early on, Pleuven and Hill settled in third, covering up behind the leaders. Kasaqui strode out to a one-length lead, followed intently by Za Approval through a first quarter in :23.81. Easing back a bit, Kasaqui made the half-mile mark in :48.31 as Potomac River made a middle move between horses. Fan favorite The Pizza Man was last early, nearly eight lengths off the early leaders.
Rounding the turn for home, Kasaqui held a one-length lead over Pleuven, who had to force his way up the inside of Za Approval. Bulling through an opening, Pleuven exploded late to take the Wise Dan by three-quarters of a length over Kasaqui. Thatcher Street, who'd beaten Pleuven last time the pair met, finished on to be third, and The Pizza Man finished strongly but too late and had to settle for fourth.
“It was a pretty uneventful trip,” said Hill. “The 10-horse (Kasaqui) broke super well and we were kind of hoping that he would and I just wanted to get real cover for him today for him obviously with him being from overseas and he responded terrifically. When I asked him, he was there and when I needed him to tap on the brakes, he was there. He's just pure class. He really improved on his last race.”
Bred in France by Jean De Cheffontaines, Pleuven began his career there as a 2-year-old. Transferred to the US near the end of that first season, he was graded stakes placed in his first start at Gulfstream Park. A lengthy one-year break from March of 2015 to April of 2016 followed, and just three starts later Pleuven is a Grade 2 winner. Overall, the gelding's career record stands at 5 wins from 11 starts, with earnings of over $265,000.
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