Wise Dan back in Bernard Baruch
Updated: August 27, 2014, 6:30 PM ETBy Claire Novak | Bloodhorse.com
If ever there was a time to beat Wise Dan, that time is now. You can practically see that thought percolating in the minds of trainers at Saratoga Race Course, where the two-time Horse of the Year has been training all summer. On May 16, colic surgery took Wise Dan out of action after he took his first two races of the season -- repeat victories in the April 11 Maker's 46 Mile and the May 3 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic. Seventeen weeks since his last race, and 106 days removed from that emergency proceedure, on Aug. 30 the six-time Eclipse Award winner will face a solid field in the $250,000 Bernard Baruch Handicap. Ten other runners entered the 1 1/16-mile turf test to contest the 127-pound highweight making his highly anticipated return, although two of them -- Lea and Red Rifle -- are entered for the main track only. Charlie LoPresti is a realist, a worrier, and a consumate horseman who has managed the six-time Eclipse Award winner brilliantly through four seasons of racing. Three weeks ago he bypassed the Aug. 9 Fourstardave, a race Wise Dan had won twice before, because he felt his runner was not quite ready. "I wanted to bring him along slow, so I did that, and this gave me a little bit more time," LoPresti said. "He's ready to run and I don't want to sit around and not run him here and take him back to Kentucky and have to go back to Woodbine [for the Sept. 14 Ricoh Woodbine Mile], so my goal is to run here." Wise Dan has won two consecutive editions of the Breeders' Cup Mile, 10 Grade 1 races, and seventeen graded stakes overall, for 21 wins and earnings of $6,802,920. But the 7-year-old homebred could face his steepest test as the 3-5 favorite on the inner turf in the Bernard Baruch, having spent the past four months recuperating from surgery. Many wonder if, in his comeback, the racing world will see the same horse who in 2012 and 2013 dazzled with multiple flawless performances. "Everybody tells me that it shouldn't affect him, what happened to him, and I don't think it's affected him, but you don't know that until you run," LoPresti said. Wise Dan has had seven works since the operation, the past six at Saratoga. Despite a slow start, in his most recent move over the main track he went a strong half-mile on the dirt in :47.92 seconds Aug. 24, seventh-fastest of 101 moves that morning.
BERNARD BARUCH HANDICAP DRAW
|3||North Star Boy (IRE)||Ortiz, Jr.|