Wise Dan and Groupie Doll had impressive runs at Keeneland on Saturday, setting them up as possible favorites next month in the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita.
Wise Dan took control entering the stretch after moving five-wide on the turn, coasting to a 2-1/4-length victory in the Grade 1, $750,000 Shadwell Turf Mile. The 5-year-old avenged his only career loss on turf after finishing fourth in the race last year, paying $3.20 on a $2 win bet.
Wilcox Inn rallied for second. Slip and Drive was another 2-3/4 lengths back in third.
The win comes 20 days after Wise Dan took the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile, but trainer Charlie Lopresti said he had to get his horse back to the track.
”He was so good coming out of that Woodbine race I just didn’t want to breeze him too many more times,” Lopresti said. ”I figured this would just give him maybe a chance to breeze him one more time and then run him (in the Breeders’ Cup).”
Lopresti is leaning toward sending Wise Dan to the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile, run on turf, but wouldn’t rule out a run on dirt in the marquee $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 3.
”Listening to everybody talk, I think he deserves to run in the Classic,” Lopresti said. ”I just watch those races at Santa Anita. Maybe that track’s a little bit loose. It doesn’t seem like it was as tight as it was — just to me, anyway. If you watch him in the Stephen Foster, his action wasn’t the best.”
Wise Dan’s only loss in five starts this year came on dirt in the Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs on June 16, losing by a head to Ron The Greek. The gelding, owned and bred by Morton Fink, covered the mile in 1 minute, 34.94 seconds and improved his career bankroll to $2,461,638 with a record of 12 wins in 19 starts.
Jockey Jose Lezcano filled in for regular rider John Velazquez, who had previously committed to ride at Belmont Park.
”Johnny gave him all the instructions — how to warm him up and everything about him — and he rode him to the T,” Lopresti said.
Lezcano picked up another big win on the day’s card aboard Tapitsfly in the Grade 1, $350,000 First Lady. Tapitsfly outdueled Daisy Devine to win by a half-length, paying $7.60 for the win. Hungry Island was another 3-1/2 lengths back in third.
Earlier, Groupie Doll cemented her spot as the nation’s top filly sprinter, rolling to a 6-1/2-length victory in the Grade 2, $200,000 Thoroughbred Club of America.
”I love it,” trainer Buff Bradley said about heading to the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint as the likely favorite. ”My team and family and friends here, it’s great to be here and win.”
Bradley bred the 4-year-old daughter of Bowman’s Band with his father, Fred. The pair owns her, along with Carl Hurst and Brent Burns.
Groupie Doll, ridden by Rajiv Maragh, raced to her fourth consecutive graded stakes win. She returned $2.80. Strike the Moon, ridden by Lezcano, was second and Honey Chile was third.
Also, Joha had a front-running win in the $400,000, Grade 1 Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity and a guaranteed spot in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile with a one-length victory over Dynamic Sky.
Joha, with Maragh aboard, returned $19.40. Java’s War was third. The race was one of three ”Win and You’re In” contests for the Breeders’ Cup, along with the Shadwell and Thoroughbred Club, offering automatic berths in next month’s championships to the winners.
Favored Bridgetown paid $3.40 in winning the Grade 3 Woodford Stakes by a length, covering 5-1/2 furlongs on the turf in 1:02.55. Great Mills was second, and Chamberlain Bridge, the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner, finished third.