Morton Fink’s homebred star Wise Dan overwhelmed six rivals to win the 27th running of the $546,400 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (Grade I), by 4 ¾ lengths over Optimizer at Churchill Downs.
Trained by Charlie LoPresti and ridden by Jose Lezcano, Wise Dan covered the 1 1/8 miles on a Matt Winn Turf Course labeled as yielding in 1:51.84.
The victory was worth $331,993 and boosted Wise Dan’s earnings to $4,059,631 with a record of 22-15-1-0. Wise Dan’s past five victories have come in Grade I races.
Wise Dan is a 6-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Wiseman’s Ferry out of the Wolf Power mare Lisa Danielle.
Silver Max led the field through fractions of :23.93, :48.51 and 1:13.18 with Optimizer in closest pursuit with Wise Dan tracking in third. Leaving the far turn, Lezcano sent Wise Dan up three wide and the reigning Horse of the Year quickly assumed command en route to his sixth consecutive victory and ninth in his past 10 starts.
Wise Dan returned $3.20, $2.60 and $2.20. Optimizer, ridden by Joel Rosario, returned $4.20 and $3.20 with Middie rallying for third, 1 ¾ lengths back under Francisco Torres, and paying $5.80 to show. Silver Max finished a half-length back in fourth and was followed in order by Bim Bam, Slim Shadey (GB) and Jeranimo.
WOODFORD RESERVE TURF CLASSIC QUOTES
Charlie Lopresti, trainer of Wise Dan, winner: “What I worried about more than anything was it being slick. That’s what I saw in the race. He was having trouble on the first turn. I could see he was having trouble getting hold of it down the backside. I told (Jose) Lezcano the most important thing is to make sure he’s handling it good and to take care of him and save him until you really need to run as long as he’s getting a hold of it and he did perfect. He never hit him, because that’s what I told him.
“A lot of people said he should’ve gone to Dubai or he shouldn’t have been a three-time Eclipse Award winner. He had to come back and redeem himself and I think there’s no doubt after today that he’s the same horse that we put away after the Breeders’ Cup.
“He won’t run again until Saratoga. I’ve got to see what Successful Dan does. My goal is to get Successful Dan to the Stephen Foster. “I’m just glad it’s over, that’s all. I love him and I’m glad it’s over. I just want to go back to my barn and see it.”
Jose Lezcano, rider of Wise Dan, winner: “He responded like a champion today. He responded very well when I asked him for run. I had a perfect trip and he felt very comfortable out there. Last time, I had to keep him closer to a slow pace and today I was able to relax him on the backside.”
Joel Rosario, rider of Optimizer, runner-up: “Ran really big. We got beat by a really good horse. That horse (Wise Dan) is really consistent and he showed every time, every time he comes out. He’s the best.’’
Francisco Torres, rider of Middie, third: “Run big, run huge. You know when you’ve got so many horses in the field that kind of dictate the pace on its own, it’s kind of hard to go on with it.’’
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