WOODFORD RESERVE STAKES | PURSE: $500,000 | 4-YEAR-OLDS AND UP | GRADE 1 | 1 1/8-MILES (TURF)
In one of the more dramatic victories of his career, Wise Dan held off a late surge from Juddmonte Farms homebred Seek Again to post a narrow victory in the $500,000 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic Stakes Saturday, May 3 at Churchill Downs.
In prevailing by a head in the Woodford Reserve, Morton Fink homebred Wise Dan secured the 10th grade I victory of his career in the 1 ⅛-mile turf race. He joins Einstein as the only two-time winners of the Woodford Reserve.
This victory would not come easy. Before the first turn, Wise Dan would become fractious between Bright Thought to his inside and Skyring to his outside before jockey John Velazquez was able to back the two-time Horse of the Year out of that spot.
They raced third through the turn and the backstretch as Bright Thought completed a half-mile in :48.05 seconds. Wise Dan would move toward the front-runners entering the far turn, where he would rally three wide and seize the lead turning for home. But behind him, last year's Hollywood Derby winner Seek Again was rallying in his first start of the season.
Seek Again would slip through on the rail and those two would duel through the stretch with Wise Dan finding a way to prevail by a head, securing the fifth Churchill Downs graded stakes win, turf or dirt, of his career.
Saddled by Charlie LoPresti, the son of Wiseman's Ferry completed the 1 ⅛-mile turf race in 1:47.73 to improve to two wins in two starts in the 2014 season as he builds his case for a third straight Horse of the Year title.
It was another 1 ¼ lengths back to Boisterous in third.
Wise Dan earned his 18th stakes victory in his five seasons of racing. Out of 2013 Broodmare of the Year Lisa Danielle, by Wolf Power, Wise Dan is closing in on the $7 million mark in career earnings.
Sent off at odds of 1-2, Wise Dan returned $3 to win, $2.40 to place, and $2.10 to show. Seek Again, second choice at 7-1, returned $4.80 and $3.80 while Boisterous paid $3.80 to show.
Einstein secured his back-to-back victories in the 2008 and 2009 editions of the Woodford Reserve.