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Dec 02, 2011

Weekend winners ready for a break

By: By Don Agriss, Horse Racing Editor


Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Wise Dan and To Honor and Serve each came out of their stakes victories over the Thanksgiving weekend in good shape. The two now are deserving of vacations to rest and get ready for 2012 campaigns.

Wise Dan, owned by Morton Fink, captured Friday's Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs and at Aqueduct it was To Honor and Serve putting away the competition down the stretch in the Cigar Mile.

"He came out of the race in perfect shape," Wise Dan's trainer Charles Lopresti said. "He's 100 percent.

"We'll let him wind down (at Keeneland) and then take him to our farm in Lexington. He'll have the whole month of December off and some of January and then we'll start getting him ready for a five-year-old campaign."

The Clark Handicap win on Friday gave Wise Dan the distinction of now winning stakes on three different surfaces: turf, dirt and synthetic.

"He can run on any surface at different distances, so we have a lot of options with him," Lopresti said. "Most likely we will bring him back in the Commonwealth at Keeneland like we did this year."

Lopresti also trains Woodbine Mile winner and Breeders' Cup Mile runner-up Turallure and Successful Dan, Wise Dan's older half-brother, who was disqualified from first to third in last year's Clark. Successful Dan was unable to race in 2011 due to a tendon injury.

"I was able to keep Turallure and Wise Dan apart this year, but I don't know if I can keep them all apart next year," Lopresti said. "It'll be tough and a couple of them may have to go in the same race. But this is a good problem to have. It's been a dream year and if next year is half as good as this one, then I'll be thrilled.

"Successful Dan is at our farm and gallops about five days a week. We'll keep doing that for awhile and then get more serious with him in January or February. Look for him in the spring."

To Honor and Serve looked capable of winning by more than the 1 3/4-lengths margin of victory on Saturday. He covered the mile in 1:33.89.

"He's good," said trainer Bill Mott's assistant, Leana Willaford about Cigar Mile champ To Honor and Serve. "He'll get a little freshening and then join us back at Payson (Park)."

To and Honor Serve, owned by Live Oak Plantation, is scheduled to have a four- year-old season at the racetrack after proving himself one of the top three- year-olds this year.

"He's obviously more mature, maybe a little taller and longer," Willaford noted. "He hasn't really gotten more muscular, but that will come hopefully next year; he's still growing. Even from the spring until the last three weeks training here (Belmont Park) since the Breeders' Cup, he's just really, really been doing well and settling in. His gallops have gotten more controlled. He's getting it."

Mott's charge proved himself against older company in the Cigar and was a respectable seventh in the Breeders' Cup Classic behind another Mott horse Drosselmeyer. The colt also won comfortably two months ago in the Pennsylvania Derby.

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