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Oct 10, 2014

Up the Backstretch: Keep Wise Dan on the turf

By: By Don Agriss, Horse Racing Editor

 Philadelphia, PA ( - Even following his come-from-behind victory in Saturday's $1 million Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland, there's still talk of having Wise Dan race in the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Nov.1.

The question of having the two-time Horse of the Year start in the 1 1/4-mile Classic over the Mile was again asked of trainer Charlie LoPresti after his gelding's length victory.

"I'll leave it up to (breeder and owner) Mr. (Mort) Fink. The way he trained on the dirt here, the way he ran today, this is the kind of race I wanted for him," the trainer said. "They ran 35 (seconds) and change over a good turf. I'll just leave it up to the boss, but I wouldn't be afraid to run him anywhere - as long as he comes back good. You know he's 7 years old; how many races does he have left? Maybe now's the time to do it."

There's little question that Wise Dan would make a respectable showing in the Classic, but going longer than he's gone in a long time over a dirt surface versus numerous top runners would only leave LoPresti and Fink open to second guessing.

"He's trained so well over the dirt this year at Saratoga and here," LoPresti said at Keeneland, "I think if we're ever going to try it, this would be the year. You just don't know how many (races) he has in him, a horse of this age. And whether he'll get a mile and a quarter, I don't know. I guess the only way to find out is to try."

Wise Dan has won the last two Breeders' Cup Miles, both at Santa Anita, and has not run past 1 1/8 miles in a while. The 7-year-old is now in a battle with 3-year-old gelding Shared Belief for this year's Horse of the Year crown.

Shared Belief has beaten older horses in his last two starts, including the 1 1/4-mile Pacific Classic going away. He's expected to be the favorite for the Classic.

"Shared Belief will definitely be the morning line favorite for the Classic," said Jon White, who again will be making all of the official morning lines for the Breeders' Cup races this year. "What I still am going to have to decide is how strong of a favorite. Of course, much can change between now and Oct. 27 when post positions for the Breeders' Cup are drawn and the Breeders' Cup morning lines have to be submitted. But if I had to do it today, I'd make Shared Belief a 6-5 favorite for the Classic."

Wise Dan has just one win from five career starts on dirt. The champion actually has nothing to prove with a start in the Classic. It might be more interesting for him to take on the world's best grass runners in the 1 1/2- mile Turf at Santa Anita.

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