Live Oak Plantation’s 2017 Eclipse Award Champion Turf Male World Approval will face off against Gunpowder Farms’ two-time Turf Classic (Grade I) winner Divisidero in Saturday’s 29th running of the $200,000 Wise Dan (GII) at 1 1/16 miles over Churchill Downs’ Matt Winn Turf Course.
World Approval (26-12-2-4—$3,060,363) dominated the older turf division in 2017 with victories in the Fourstardave Handicap (GI) at Saratoga, Woodbine Mile (GI) and, ultimately, the Breeders’ Cup Mile (GI) at Del Mar.
“It looks like a good spot for him,” trainer Mark Casse said. “He’s doing well and I’m looking forward to being there Saturday for the race.”
World Approval was originally targeting the May 19 Dixie Stakes (GII) at Pimlico but was scratched due to “soft” conditions of the turf course. The 6-year-old son of Northern Afleet began his 2018 season with a half-length victory in the Tampa Bay (GIII) prior to a disappointing fifth-place finish in the Frank Kilroe Mile (GI).
Divisidero (17-5-3-3—$1,177,950) was transferred at the end of his 2017 campaign from trainer Buff Bradley to Kelly Rubley and based at Fair Hill in Maryland. The 6-year-old horse by Kitten’s Joy is making his second start of 2018 following a runner-up finish behind Money Multiplier in the Monmouth Stakes (GII) on May 26.
The gray will break from post 1 under Jevian Toledo.
The Wise Dan field from the rail out: Divisidero (ridden by Toledo, trained by Rubley, 121 pounds); Shining Copper (Irad Ortiz Jr., Mike Maker, 123); Inspector Lynley (Jose Ortiz, Shug McGaughey III, 121); World Approval (Velazquez, Casse, 126); Mr. Misunderstood (Florent Geroux, Brad Cox, 121); Mr Cub (Chris Landeros, Ian Wilkes, 121); Flatlined (Corey Lanerie, Scooter Dickey, 121); and Parlor (Brian Hernandez Jr., Eddie Kenneally, 121).
The Wise Dan will go as Race 6 at 8:30 p.m.
The race formerly known as the Firecracker was renamed in 2016 to honor Mort Fink’s two-time Horse of the Year who completed a spectacular racing career with a perfect four-race season in 2014. The Charlie LoPresti-trained gelding by Wiseman’s Ferry compiled a remarkable lifetime record of 23-2-0 in 31 races with earnings of $7,552,920 from 2010-14.