Reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan ran his win streak to eight with a decisive victory in the Fourstardave Handicap (G2) at Saratoga Saturday.
Favored at 2-5 in a field of six, Wise Dan covered one mile on the inner turf course in 1:34, only .58 seconds off the track record set by L’Oiseau d’Argent in 2004, returning $2.80 for a $2 win bet.
Trained by Charles LoPresti for owner-breeder Morton Fink, Wise Dan began his win streak with a five-length victory in last year’s Fourstardave. In this year’s edition he carried 129 pounds, a career high, giving 11 to 14 pounds to his opponents.
“I guess [the weight] didn’t hurt him too much,” LoPresti told NYRA Press. “I was worried about it. It’s only a pound more [than his last race], but I was worried about it. To prove that he’s a great horse like everybody’s talking about, he has to carry that weight. He has to prove that he’s that good, and I think today he proved that he’s a very good horse.”
Wise Dan was the first reigning Horse of the Year to run at Saratoga since Rachel Alexandra, who finished second in the 2010 Personal Ensign. Breaking from post position 1 under Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, the 6-year-old Wiseman’s Ferry gelding was able to save ground along the rail around the first turn.
“Perfect trip,” Velazquez said. “Broke well, was in the right place following the speed in the race. After that, it was pretty easy. I knew the horse on the lead was going to take me a long way. It ended up being a nice race down the lane with the horse on the lead. I knew at the time I pulled out it was going to be a fight, and I know my horse is a fighter. It was awesome.”
Now 4-for-4 in 2013, the win improved Wise Dan’s career record to 17-1-0 from 24 starts. The $300,000 winner’s share pushed his career earnings to $4,464,070.
“It’s not like Zenyatta or Personal Ensign where he’s undefeated lifetime,” LoPresti said. “I would have been OK, but I didn’t want to get beat.”
King Kreesa was a decisive second, 5 ¼ lengths ahead of Lea. Mr. Commons, Willyconker and Skyring completed the order of finish.
“[Wise Dan] had a serious competitor today, and as good as both horses are doing, I was really happy with my horse’s effort,” said Jeremiah Englehart, trainer of King Kreesa. “Obviously, [Wise Dan] is a champion.”