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Sep 21, 2012

Wise Dan captures Woodbine Mile


Toronto, ON (Sports Network) - Odds-on favorite Wise Dan ran past the opposition to win Sunday's $1 million Woodbine Mile at Woodbine Race Course. The 5-year-old gelding covered the distance in 1:34.07 on a firm turf course.

The victory gave Wise Dan a spot in this year's Breeders' Cup Mile at Santa Anita Park on Nov. 3. The Woodbine Mile is a "Win and You're In" event for the World Championships.

Wise Dan, owned by Morton Fink, was never far off the lead, sitting third and fourth in the nine-horse field with regular rider John Velazquez in the saddle.

Trained by Charles Lopresti, the gelding took the lead coming off the final turn and began to open up at the top of the stretch. Wise Dan, the 1-2 favorite, cruised to victory with a 3 1/4 length win over 13-1 longshot Hunters Bay.

"What a nice horse. For a horse to do this race after race and come back the way he does things is incredible. It's nice to be on him." said Velazquez. "I think he's learned the more he races. He's learning. He's allowing me to get him back a little bit and get him relaxed behind the horses. When he does that he is a much better horse."

Finishing third was 3-1 second choice Cityscape followed by Riding the River, Dance And Dance, Big Band Sound, Worthadd, Hollinger and Artic Fern.

Velazquez recorded his third win in the Mile. The Hall of Fame jockey previously won aboard Riviera (2000) and Leroidesanimaux (2005). Wise Dan's trained notched his second straight win in the race having saddled Turallure last year.

Wise Dan, in just his second start on the turf this year, added $600,000 to his bankroll. The gelding has won 11 of 18 career starts for $2 million.

He won the Fourstardave in August on Saratoga's turf course after winning the Ben Ali on Keeneland's synthetic main track and finishing second in Churchill Downs' Stephen Foster on dirt.

"I think he is good on anything as he's proved," the winning owner noted, "but I think he is a little better on the grass. But you can't turn down a Classic. There are no superstars, I don't think, around this year."

Wise Dan returned $3.10, $2.70 and $2.10. Hunters Bay paid $6.30 and $4.40, and Cityscape paid $2.90 to show.

Earlier on the card, Wigmore Hall successfully defended his title in the $500,000 Northern Dancer at 1 1/2-miles on the grass. Based in Europe, the horse toured the distance in 2:28.28.

"He's one of my favorites," said winning jockey Jamie Spencer. "He tries really hard."

Trained by Michael Bell, Wigmore Hall, the 7-2 second pick, went from the back of the eight-horse field to post a neck victory over 3-1 favorite Al Khali, third in last year's race, Forte Dei Marmi was third followed by Scalo, Irish Mission, Musketier, Ojibway Signal and Celtic Conviction.

"He loves Canada, especially," said assistant trainer Gillian Dolman about Wigmore Hall. "He's not so great on the soft turf, but he loved the conditions here today."

The victory was worth $300,000 to owner Mark B. Hawtin. Wigmore Hall has now won seven of 27 career starts for more than $1.9 million.

The 5-year-old gelding was coming off a seventh in the Arlington Million last month. Last year he was fourth in the Million before winning the Northern Dancer.

Wigmore Hall paid $9.40, $4.90 and $3.50. Al Khali returned $4.50 and $3.10, and Forte Dei Marmi paid $4.00 to show.

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