Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt
Construction may be going full-steam-ahead as the main track at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky, undergoes conversion from Polytrack to a dirt surface, but that hasn't stopped two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan is progressing in his comeback from colic surgery.
On July 1 the 7-year-old son of Wiseman's Ferry galloped two strong circuits of the Keeneland training track under regular exercise rider Damien Rock, prompting trainer Charlie LoPresti to indicate his first breeze back could be coming soon.
"We're trying to go as easy as we can, but it's not going to be too much longer before he's going to have a little breeze," LoPresti said. "Man, he's strong. Every day, we're just picking it up a little more. I'm trying to get him as fit as I can without really pressing on him too much."
Wise Dan, a two-time Breeders' Cup Mile winner and a six-time Eclipse Award winner overall, underwent emergency colic surgery May 16 at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital and had been recovering at LoPresti's Forest Lane Farm near Lexington. He moved back to Keeneland June 23 after tack-walking and beginning to jog at the trainer's private facility.
"I'm just going to try to get as much easy galloping into him as I can, then I'll probably go an easy half-mile down here, and then away he goes," said LoPresti, who will ship his summer string to Saratoga Race Course in upstate New York around July 12.
Wise Dan remains on target for a hopeful comeback in the Aug. 9 Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga. It's a 1-mile turf contest he has won the past two years en route to repeat victories in the Ricoh Woodbine Mile at Woodbine and the Breeders' Cup Mile at Santa Anita Park.
"There's a very good chance (of making the Fourstardave)," LoPresti said. "If I can get a little breeze into him here and then breeze him about three times up there, we'll be in good shape."
LoPresti has mentioned the 1 1/16-mile Bernard Baruch Handicap, Aug. 30 at Saratoga, as a potential fallback plan should Wise Dan require more time before starting his second half of the year campaign. Earlier this season before his colic episode, the chestnut gelding won his second consecutive editions of the Maker's 46 Mile Stakes at Keeneland and the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic Stakes at Churchill Downs.
His current record stands at 21 wins, 10 of them grade I events, and two seconds from 29 starts for earnings of $6,802,920.
Originally published on BloodHorse.com.
About the Author
Winner of the 2011 Eclipse Award for Feature/Commentary and the 2008 Louisville Metro Journalism Award for Sports Writing, Claire Novak has melded her love for human-interest journalism and the equine breed into a successful Turf writing career. Since her first freelance article on racing was published at BloodHorse.com in 2005, her byline has appeared in the New York Times, ESPN The Magazine, and on ESPN.com, among others. She lives near Lexington and, when not writing about racing, can often be found jumping her Thoroughbred, Bob.