Wise Dan wins $1-million Woodbine Mile
Wise Dan, ridden by John Velazquez, runs to victory in the $1-million Woodbine Mile on Sunday. Wise Dan took the nine-horse race by 3 1/4 lengths, finishing in time of 1:34.07 to earn a trip to the Breeders' Cup Mile. (Michael Burns/Photo)
It couldn’t have been any easier or more pleasant to watch.
Wise Dan showed his class with a fine performance in yesterday’s $1-million Woodbine Mile and in doing so not only earned a trip to the Breeders’ Cup Mile but showed that if he is instead placed in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, he would be a threat there too.
It was a simple task for jockey John Velazquez. He broke beautifully out of post three in the nine-horse field and relaxed immediately behind pacesetters Worthadd and Artic Fern. He moved to the outside around the turn slightly to allow 99-1 shot Artic Fern to back out of the proceedings. But then went back inside to move through an opening created by Worthadd at the top of the stretch. From there, the race was over with the final margin being 3¾ lengths and a final time of 1:34.07.
Bred by his owner Morton Fink, the son of Wiseman’s Ferry slowly made his way to prominence last year, immediately showing an ability to win on turf (Firecracker Handicap at Churchill), dirt (Clark Handicap at Churchill), and synthetic (Fayette at Keeneland). This year he crushed a field in the Ben Ali at Keeneland, narrowly lost the Stephen Foster at Churchill, then went to Saratoga to win the Fourstardave and establish himself as possibly the leading turf horse in North America.
Velazquez, who captured his third win in the Woodbine Mile, said the horse continues to mature.
“He’s learning the more he races,” he said. “He’s learning to sit behind horses and when he does that, he’s a much better horse.”
Trainer Charles Lopresti, who won the race last year with Turralure, is likely going to train the horse up to the Breeders’ Cup but hasn’t ruled out the Shadwell Mile at Keeneland. As for the choice between the Mile and the Classic, that is still to be determined.
“I talked to Johnny (Velazquez) about the Classic and he said the grass is better but we won’t rule the Classic out as well,” Lopresti said. “I think he’s better on dirt and synthetic.”
Lopresti said Wise Dan, named for Fink’s granddaughter, is a very laid back and easy-going type who has done very little wrong in training up to the race. Wise Dan surprised Lopresti with a four-furlong workout in August that seemed easy but ended up going in a quick 45 seconds.
“He’s such a good work horse, we didn’t work him a lot,” he said. “We had the one fast work and an easy breeze after that. We brought him up here Friday. He went to the paddock to do a little schooling and he handled it great.”
Hunters Bay made a nice run in the stretch to finish second with Emma-Jayne Wilson aboard in his first ever start on the turf. Cityscape, the European runner who earlier this year won the Dubai Duty Free ended third.
Last year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile came down to Court Vision edging out Turralure, the previous two winners of the Woodbine Mile. There’s every chance that yesterday’s events at Woodbine could have an effect on this year’s race at Santa Anita.
Wigmore wild for Woodbine
A lot of Europeans like Woodbine. You can definitely count Wigmore Hall among them.
The 5-year-old son of High Chaparral had not won a race in eight starts since capturing last year’s Northern Dancer Turf, until he scored in yesterday’s $500,000 renewal.
Ridden by Jamie Spencer, Wigmore Hall was allowed to settle about eight lengths behind the early pace in the 1½-mile race.
He travelled around the final turn in between horses and at the top of the stretch, muscled his way to the outside for his run.
He made it to the lead at the eighth pole but was hounded for the final 200 metres by Al Khali on the inside.
But that rival never got within a neck of Wigmore Hall.
“I got a good trip around,” Spencer said. “He relaxed well. There was a good pace this year. There wasn’t one last year.”
“It was all ABC from the half-mile pole. I was following Garrett (Gomez aboard Al Khali) and then went and challenged him. My horse dug deep and fought hard. It’s nice to get a Grade 1 win with him.”
The win pushed Wigmore Hall’s earnings close to the $2-million mark.
WINNING CATCH RIDE
Minutes before the $300,000 Canadian Stakes, the connections of Barefoot Lady learned Spencer could not take the mount. So they found David Moran to ride and it resulted in a 1½-length victory.
Moran took Barefoot Lady to the rail and tracked pacesetter Laughing early. She made her move late in the final turn, following Stars to Shine past the tiring early leader and gaining the lead with a furlong remaining.
“It was a perfect trip,” Moran said. “I was happy I was behind Luis (Contreras aboard Laughing). Then I got her out in the turn and it was over from there, really.”
It was the second victory this year for the English-based runner who pushed her career earnings past $400,000.
STEALING A WIN
In the $150,000 Ontario Derby, Stealcase with Patrick Husbands aboard, made a decisive move in the stretch to win by a length in 1:50.56 for the mile-and-an-eighth.
It was the third win of 2012 for the Mark Casse-trained son of Lawyer Ron who two starts ago finished third in the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park.
MILESTONE FOR EMMA
The card opened with a win by D’wildcat Gold which gave jockey Emma-Jayne Wilson her 1,000th career victory.