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Jul 05, 2013

Wise Dan maintains lead in NTRA Poll


New York, NY (Sports Network) - 2012 Horse of the Year Wise Dan ran through the rain drops to win the Firecracker Handicap Saturday night at Churchill Downs and was rewarded with another week atop the NTRA National Poll.

Trained by Charles LoPresti for owner Morton Fink, Wise Dan has won all three starts this year in defense of his Horse of the Year title and recorded a two- length victory in the mile turf event.

"It was nerve-racking with the weight spread and the way the weather played out, but we got through it," LoPresti said from Keeneland. "And he handled the weight spread and showed he's truly a great horse. I just hope they don't put too much weight on him down the road.

"I'm glad he got to run up there and the fans really cheered him on when he came back. Hopefully it was good for Churchill to have a horse like that run up there."

For his winning effort, Wise Dan received 34 first-place votes and 411 points. The 6-year-old gelding will make his next start at Saratoga in one of four possible stakes.

"We're thinking about the Fourstardave (Aug. 10) and the Whitney (Aug. 3)," LoPresti said. "We'll see how he comes out of it and how he handles going up there. We'll also look at the Bernard Baruch (Aug. 31) and the Woodward (Aug. 31). There are four races up there that we're looking at with this horse.

"I'd really like to keep him undefeated and I'd like to win a Grade I on dirt with him this year. If we get a Grade I on dirt with him and then keep him going and get a few wins on the grass and then get to the Breeders' Cup, maybe he'll get Horse of the Year again."

Remaining second with seven top votes and 367 points is Game On Dude. Trained by Bob Baffert, the 6-year-old will start in Saturday's Hollywood Gold Cup, a race he won last year.

Fort Larned and Point of Entry each received one first-place vote to stay in third and fourth, respectively. Fort Larned earned 316 points and Point of Entry 256.

Sahara Sky is fifth with 174 points, followed by Animal Kingdom (128), Graydar (120), Oxbow (96), Obviously (83) and Orb (58).

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