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Dec 02, 2011

Wise Dan claims Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs


Louisville, KY (Sports Network) - Wise Dan, ridden by John Velazquez, drew away in late stretch to capture Friday's $500,000 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs. The four-year-old gelding covered the 1 1/8-miles in 1:48.95 on a fast track.

Trained by Charles Lopresti, Wise Dan went off as the 9-2 co-second choice along with Belmont Stakes winner Ruler On Ice. Flat Out, winner of the Jockey Club Gold Cup, was the 2-1 favorite in the 13-horse field.

Setting the pace under the Twin Spires was 21-1 longshot Will's Wildcat. Mission Impazible was racing second and Wise Dan was third. On the final turn Mission Impazible, the 7-1 fourth pick, and Wise Dan put away the leader and opened space from the rest of the field.

Mission Impazible was on the inside with Wise Dan on his outside. The two veteran horses battled down the stretch until Velazquez nudged his mount to the lead.

Coming off a win in the Fayette Stakes at Keeneland last month, Wise Dan posted a 3 3/4-length victory over Mission Impazible with Flat Out getting up for third.

Longshot Mister Marti Gras finished fourth followed by Ruler On Ice, Headache, Alma d'Oro, Will's Wildcat, Prayer for Relief, Stately Victor, Demarcation, Pleasant Prince and General Quarters.

Owned by Morton Fink, Wise Dan adds $326,554 to his bankroll. In 14 career starts the gelding has eight wins for $919,601. Velazquez got the mount because Julien Leparoux was at Hollywood Park on Friday.

"He's a good strong rider," Lopresti said of Velazquez. "I know when I called him, it didn't take two minutes to tell me he would come to ride him. It's a compliment when a guy like Velazquez comes in to ride him. I know he's watched his races and he knows him."

The Clark is Wise Dan's first stakes win over a conventional dirt track.

Last year Fink and Lopresti's Successful Dan finished first in the Clark, but was disqualified to third.

Wise Dan returned $11.00, $6.00 and $4.20. Mission Impazible paid $7.00 and $5.40, and Flat Out paid $3.20 to show.

11/25 18:49:30 ET

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