Reigning Horse of the Year, Wise Dan, will make his 6-year-old debut facing four rivals on Friday in the G1 $300,000 Maker's 46 Mile at Keeneland. He has been placed as the 3-5 morning-line favorite and will post from the outside position—No. 5—at the gate.
The gelding son of Wiseman's Ferry out of the Wolf Power (SAf) mare Lisa Danielle, Wise Dan hasn't run since winning the Breeders' Cup Mile on Nov. 3 at Santa Anita. With that victory, he finished the year with five dominating wins in six starts.
That campaign earned Wise Dan the Eclipse Awards as the champion older male, turf male and horse of the year. He became the first horse to do so since John Henry in 1981.
Trained by Charles Lopresti and homebred by owner Morton Fink, Wise Dan faces a short field, but it shouldn't be an easy race.
He has been working well, but the question remains: Is he fit enough to win here?
Jose Lezcano will replace regular rider John Velazquez, who is recovering from an injured first rib on his right side and chipped radius bone in his right wrist suffered April 7 during a spill at Aqueduct.
Lezcano rode him flawlessly during his win in the G1 Shadwell Turf Mile on Oct. 6 here at Keeneland.
In that race, he beat his main rival, the race's defending champion Data Link, who finished fifth almost eight lengths behind Wise Dan.
Data Link, the 3-1 morning-line second choice for Friday's race, was shuffled back early in that race, having to run farther behind than what he normally does. He made his move but had to go six wide and wasn't a factor.
Last year, he achieved his career-best Beyer figure of 100 while winning the Maker's 46 Mile by a neck over favorite Turallure.
Javier Castellano rode him to victory in his last race, the G3 Canadian Turf, Feb. 23 at Gulfstream Park and returns for the ride. This time, he should have no problem laying close to Wise Dan, which gives him a shot at seeing him and mirroring his moves.
His last race serves him perfectly as a prep and that gives him a fitness advantage over Wise Dan. He has been working flawlessly, so his recent form indicates he is primed for an upset.
Invading from California are St. George Farm Racing’s multiple graded stakes winner Mr. Commons and Wertheimer and Frere’s Silentio.
Trained by John Shirreffs, Mr. Commons comes off a fourth-place finish in the G1 Frank E. Kilroe Mile Stakes in his 2013 debut on March 2 at Santa Anita. Prior to that, he finished fifth, three lengths behind Wise Dan in the BC Mile.
He has been on the losing end in his last seven races, but he has been competitive. He had traffic trouble in his last, and his race in the BC Mile was a decent effort against Wise Dan.
In his March 2 effort, he regressed to 89 in his Beyer figure after three straight triple-digit efforts. Since then, he has four registered workouts, which shows he has to be in great shape and ready to rebound.
Veteran jockey Corey Nakatani was aboard in his last race and ships in with him to ride. He will break from post position two.
Silentio finished second at the G1 Frank E. Kilroe Mile Stakes, just over a length ahead of Mr. Commons in his last start. The lightly raced 4-year-old, trained by Gary Mandella, won the 2012 Sir Beaufort Stakes in his stakes debut in December at Santa Anita.
He comes to the race with four registered workouts in 19 days. His last two were bullets that place him moving forward for this race, but he still would need to prove he is in Wise Dan's class.
Rafael Bejarano has been aboard for his last three races and returns to ride him here.
Longshot Skyring, trained by Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas and ridden by Rosie Napravnik, completes the field.
Skyring will try to play catch-me-if-you-can with this field. Lezcano will place Wise Dan just to his outside in a stalking second followed by Data Link and Silentio. Mr. Commons will be the trailer.
Expect Wise Dan to go after Skyring on the far turn and Data Link to go with him. Wise Dan will take the lead just before they enter the stretch and will hold off a challenge by the defending champ and the late charge from a rallying Mr. Commons.
Win: Wise Dan (5)
Place: Data Link (4)
Show: Mr. Commons (3)
Maker's 46 Mile | Grade 1 | Purse: $300,000
Keeneland | 9th Race | Post Time: 5:13 p.m. ET
Distance: One Mile on Turf
|1||Silentio ||Rafael Bejarano ||Gary Mandella ||9/2
|2||Mr. Commons ||Corey S. Nakatani ||John Shierreffs ||9/2
|3||Skyring ||Rosie Napravnik ||D. Wayne Lukas ||30/1
|4||Data Link ||Javier J. Castellano ||Claude R. McGaughey III ||3/1
|5||Wise Dan ||Jose Lezcano ||Charles Lopresti ||3/5
Morning Line odds by drf.com.