USA: Wise Dan bids to confirm status in hot Stephen Foster
Search our News Archive
By Nicholas Godfrey
Named in honour of the composer of Derby anthem My Old Kentucky Home, this $400,000 event is one of the jewels of America's ‘handicap' division.
Wise Dan comes in off a blistering performance in Grade 3 company on the Keeneland Polytrack, having broken the track record with a ten-length victory on April 22.
The switch to dirt offers no cause for concern, as the five-year-old won the Grade 1 Clark over course and distance in November, drawing away from reliable yardstick Mission Impazible to score by nearly four lengths.
Mission Impazible (Todd Pletcher/Javier Castellano) has a 3lb pull here in a race where Wise Dan's stablemate Successful Dan has been entered only as a precaution.
Live threats in a high-class field are headed by Alternation (Donnie von Hemel/Luis Quinonez), bidding to complete a five-timer with his first Grade 1 success after making hay at lower graded-stakes level.
Last time out he closed well to touch off last year's Kentucky Derby second Nehro (Steve Asmussen/Corey Nakatani) in the Pimlico Special.
Alternation gave 6lb that day and the pair reoppose on identical terms. "He's been beating Grade 1 winners the last few times and we'd love to get a Grade 1 win for him," said Von Hemel. "Wise Dan will be a very difficult assignment for anybody in this race since he's run a couple monster efforts the last two outs and he looks to be a very worthy opponent."
Santa Anita Handicap winner Ron The Greek (Bill Mott/Jose Lezcano) and Nate's Mineshaft (Austin Smith/Jesse Campbell), runaway winner at Lone Star last time, are other high-profile names in a fantastic race.
Nate's Mineshaft, who slammed Mission Impazible earlier this year at Fair Grounds, is a front-runner whose presence could conceivably upset Wise Dan, leaving the race open to more of a closing type like Alternation or Ron The Greek.
Churchill Downs: Fleur'de Lis Hcap (Grade 2) 1m1f, dirt, 3yo+ f/m (2.05am Sun BST)
Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic winner Royal Delta (Bill Mott/MikeSmith) gives weight away to five rivals as she bids for her first success of the year after a disappointing effort in the Dubai World Cup. She's been working well at home since her return to the States.
Hollywood Park: Vanity Hcap (Grade 1) 1m1f, AW, 3yo+ f/m (1.10am Sun BST)
A clutch of former European-trained fillies are involved in this $250,000 contest. Zafeen's Pearl (Tim Takteen), four times a winner on the all-weather for Dean Ivory, and Paul Reddam's Atlantic Swing (Ben Cecil/Mario Gutierrez), who scored at The Curragh in October for John Oxx.
Caelis (Peter Miller/Kevin Krigger), who used to be trained by Ralph Beckett, was third behind likely favourite Include'Me Out (Ron Ellis/Joe Talamo) and Ellafitz (Bob Baffert/Rafael Bejarano) on her most recent start in a Grade 2 here a month ago.
Colonial Downs: Colonial Turf Cup (Grade 2) 1m1½f, turf, 3yo+ (1.36am Sun BST)
The former Luca Cumani-trained Forte Dei Marmi (Roger Attfield/Rajiv Maragh) breaks from the inner in a 12-runner field for this $500,000 contest, one of the most prestigious turf races of the year.
Eight-year-old Rahystrada (Byron Hughes/Sheldon Russell) bids to repeat last year's win.
View the original article at the Racing Post