WISE DAN BREEZES AT KEENELAND; COULD RUN NEXT IN FIRECRACKER
Defending Horse of the Year Wise Dan breezed a “bullet” five furlongs on the Polytrack at Keeneland on Saturday in :58.40 and he could make his next start in the $150,000-added Firecracker Handicap (Grade II) at Churchill Downs on June 29.
“He worked very well and galloped out really strong,” trainer Charlie LoPresti said. “We were very happy with it.”
Mort Fink’s homebred Wise Dan is a half-brother to Successful Dan, the 2-1 morning line favorite for Saturday night’s $500,000-added Stephen Foster Handicap Presented by Abu Dhabi (GI). Successful Dan’s performance in the Stephen Foster could influence the next race for Wise Dan.
“We are going to see what happens with Successful Dan,” LoPresti said. “Right now we are looking at the Firecracker for Wise Dan, but if we are lucky enough to win the Stephen Foster with Successful Dan then I might point Wise Dan to the Whitney (GI at Saratoga on Aug. 3). Whether I would use the Firecracker as a prep for that race or not is something we’d have to consider.”
The Stephen Foster and the Whitney are both “Win and You’re In” races for the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) at Santa Anita on Nov. 2.
“If Successful Dan wins then he’s in the Classic and I’d like to give Wise Dan a chance to run in a Grade I on dirt.”
Successful Dan, a 7-year-old gelding by Successful Appeal, and Wise Dan, a 6-year-old gelding by Wiseman’s Ferry, are unlikely to face off anytime soon.
“They’ll be kept apart leading up to the Breeders’ Cup,” LoPresti said. “The only chance they’d run against each other is if they both wound in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.”
Wise Dan and Successful Dan are two of eight winners produced by the Wolf Power-SAF mare Lisa Danielle. The most recent one is Enchanting Lisa, a 3-year-old bay filly by War Chant who won her career debut by seven lengths on June 12 at Presque Isle.
LoPresti said no plans have been made for Enchanting Lisa’s next race, but she likely will be a part of the string he will take to Saratoga.
STEPHEN FOSTER HANDICAP FAST FACTS
Three horses used victories in the Stephen Foster as part of their resumes in Horse of the Year campaigns. The three are Black Tie Affair (1991), Saint Liam (2005) and Curlin (2008). In addition, two runner-ups were crowned Horse of the Year: Mineshaft (2003) and Wise Dan (2012).
Victory Gallop owns the stakes and track record for 1 1/8 miles of 1:47.28 established in 1999.
Pat Day and Robby Albarado have won the Stephen Foster three times to lead all riders. Day’s Foster victories came in 1985 (Vanlandingham), 1998 (Awesome Again) and 2003 (Perfect Drift). Albarado won the race three consecutive years in 2007 (Flashy Bull), 2008 (Curlin) and 2009 (Macho Again).
Two horses have won the Stephen Foster in consecutive years: Vodika Collins (1982-83) and Recoup The Cash (1994-95). Ron the Greek will attempt to become the third. Pool Play also could become a two-time winner, although not in consecutive years.
Three trainers have won the Stephen Foster twice and all did it in consecutive years: Forrest Kaelin (1982-83 with Vodika Collins), Jere Smith Jr. (1994-95 with Recoup The Cash) and Pat Byrne (1997-98 with City by Night and Awesome Again). Byrne will attempt to win his record third Stephen Foster with Take Charge Indy.
Three horses have won the Stephen Foster and the Breeders’ Cup Classic in the same year. Black Tie Affair (1991) and Awesome Again (1998) won both races at Churchill Downs. Saint Liam won his running of the Classic at Belmont Park. The 2013 renewal of the $5 million Classic is scheduled for Nov. 2 at Santa Anita.
Curlin (2008) carried the highest impost of any Stephen Foster winner: 128 pounds.
Colonial Colony (2004) carried the lightest winning Foster impost at 111 pounds.
The Stephen Foster Handicap was elevated to Grade I status in 2002.
ALL-STAKES PICK 4 ON RACES 6-9
While fans will enjoy Saturday evening’s unique mix of music and food, Churchill Downs will make it a special night for racing fans as it features an all-stakes Pick 4 and two Pick 5s on the special wagering menu.
There will be three Pick 4 wagers Saturday night (Races 1-4, 3-6 and 6-9) with the latter an all-stakes Pick 4 that concludes with the Regret. The two Pick 5s will cover Races 2-6 and 5-9. Both the Pick 4 and Pick 5 are 50-cent minimum bets. Meanwhile, the $2 Pick 6 will be held on Races 4-9.
KENTUCKY DERBY TROPHY PRESENTATION
After Race 4 at 7:26 p.m., representatives from the connections of Orb, the winner of the 139th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands, will be on hand to accept their engraved Kentucky Derby trophies.
Orb’s Hall of Fame trainer and Lexington, Ky. native Claude “Shug” McGaughey III, as well as jockey Joel Rosario will be on hand to collect the hardware. Also, Rosario has four scheduled rides in stakes events, including Golden Ticket in the Foster.
The Kentucky Derby winner’s trophy and the trophy to the winning breeder will be accepted by Daisy Phipps Pulito, the daughter of Phipps Stable’s Ogden “Dinny” Phipps, on behalf of her family’s stable and Stuart Janney III, a cousin to the Phipps family. The victory by Orb realized the family’s dream of winning the Kentucky Derby that dates to 1928 when Distraction, owned by the Wheatley Stable of Mrs. Henry Carnegie Phipps, ran 13th in the 54th Derby won by Reigh Count.
Also scheduled to take part in the ceremony is Claiborne Farm, the famed Paris, Ky. institution where Orb was bred and raised. Although Claiborne will not receive a trophy, the farm has boarded mares and worked closely with the winning owners for decades and Orb was the 10th horse either bred or raised at the farm to win the Kentucky Derby. The farm will be represented on Saturday by Walker Hancock, son of Claiborne Farm president Seth Hancock.
HRTV, HRRN TO BROADCAST LIVE
HRTV – the 24-hour horse racing television network which airs on Insight Communications channel 564 in Louisville, AT&T U-verse channel 672 and DISH Network channel 404 –will be onsite for this year’s Downs After Dark debut with reporter Caton Bredar.
Additionally, hosts Mike Penna and Jude Feld of Horse Racing Radio Network (HRRN) will air coverage of three stakes races, including the Stephen Foster Handicap, from 8-10 p.m. EDT on Sirius 94 and online at www.horseracingradio.net.
STEPHEN FOSTER HANDICAP: “WIN AND YOU’RE IN” BREEDERS’ CUP CLASSIC
The winner of the $500,000-added Stephen Foster Handicap (GI) at Churchill Downs on Saturday, June 15 is entitled to an automatic entry into the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) on Saturday, Nov. 2 at Santa Anita. The nominated winner will have pre-entry and entry fees waived for the 1 ¼-mile Classic and will receive a travel stipend of $10,000 if traveling from a location in North America or $20,000 if traveling internationally.
NIGHT RACING SPECTACULAR SUCCESS
Night racing at Churchill Downs has been a spectacular success. The track experimented with night racing under temporary lights in 2009 and invested $4 million to add permanent lighting – 1,012 fixtures atop 50 poles and 25 rooftop structures – in 2010. The move has proved to be popular as nearly 475,000 core customers, casual patrons and entertainment-seekers have attended the 19 special nighttime programs. Over the last four years, Downs After Dark events have essentially tripled the on-track attendance and doubled the on-track wagering handle compared to afternoon programs previously staged on those dates.
The average attendance for the 13 summertime Downs After Dark programs has been 26,276, compared to a Friday afternoon program that typically averages 7,500 patrons. Downs After Dark on-track handle has averaged $1,371,903, while all-sources handle, which includes betting from off-track betting and advance deposit wagering outlets, has averaged $5,848,053.
Last year was the first year Churchill Downs moved Downs After Dark from Fridays to Saturdays and combined the entertainment with high-quality stakes racing. The average attendance was 23,220. On-track wagering averaged $1,356,668 and all-sources betting averaged $6,279,691.
A Downs After Dark record all-sources handle of $7,960,789 occurred on Stephen Foster Handicap night a year ago. The on-track crowd of 25,417 bet $1,552,584 while another $6,408,205 was wagered at off-track and advance deposit wagering outlets around the country.
It isn’t just racing under the stars that has attracted people to the historic racetrack. After all, night racing has been part of horse racing history for several decades. Instead, it is the abundant ancillary activities coupled with live racing that have helped create a special and festive atmosphere. Quite simply, Churchill Downs is transformed into Louisville’s ultimate nighttime hot spot, leaving many attendees describing the experience as “something you’ve just got to see.”
FAMILY FUN DAY ON SUNDAY
Churchill Downs will host Family Fun Day Presented by Kroger on the Plaza Balcony every Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. throughout the 38-day Spring Meet.
This week kiddos age 12 and under will enjoy games, a visit from Churchill Charlie and will have the chance to make Father’s Day cards.
The first of 10 races on Sunday is 12:45 p.m. Admission gates open at 11:30 a.m. Churchill Downs’ Junior Jockey Club, located inside the Gate 10 entrance, also entertains children age 12 and under on Saturdays from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. (closed when Downs After Dark occurs on June 15, June 22 and June 29). The “Kids Zone” is dedicated to providing fun for the youngsters at Churchill Downs, but all children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian at all times.
THIS WEEK AT CHURCHILL DOWNS
Saturday, June 15 – Downs After Dark
- 11 races from 6-11:10 p.m. (Gates: 4 p.m.)
- Downs After Dark Presented by Stella Artois and Finlandia Vodka
- Theme: The White Party. Guests are encouraged to “dress to impress” and wear an all-white wardrobe. There’ll be a contest for best dressed female, male, couple and group.
- Feature (Race 8 at 9:30 p.m.): $500,000-added Stephen Foster Handicap Presented by Abu Dhabi (GI) – a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Classic Division Challenge Race, 3 & up, 1 1/8 M
- Co-Feature (Race 6 at 8:30 p.m.): $175,000-added Fleur De Lis Handicap Presented by Etihad Airways (GII), f & m, 1 1/8 M
- Co-Feature (Race 7 at 9:05 p.m.): $100,000-added Matt Winn, 3yo, 1 1/16 M
- Co-Feature (Race 9 at 10:11 p.m.): $100,000-added Regret (GIII), 3yo f, 1 1/8 M (T)
- Co-Feature (Race 10 at 10:42 p.m.): $100,000-added President of the United Arab Emirates Cup, Arabian 4 & up, 1 1/16 M
- Entertainment on The Plaza Stage includes Pawnshop Guitar (4-8:30 p.m.) and Off the Hook (8:45 p.m. to close).
- Popular text-to-win sweepstakes “Bet or No Bet,” sponsored by Thorntons.
- Ceremony in Trackside Winner’s Circle to present engraved Kentucky Derby trophies to the connections of Orb after Race 4 at 7:26 p.m..
Sunday, June 16 – Father’s Day
- 10 races from 12:45-5:29 p.m. (Gates: 11:30 a.m.)
- Feature: $58,000 alw, 3 & up, 5 F (T)
- Family Fun Days Presented by Kroger on The Plaza Balcony from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Games, crafts, entertainment & Churchill Charlie appearance. Special craft is Father’s Day cards.