Weight to Play Heavy Role in Wise Dan

The Wise Dan (Grade 2)- $200.000 Purse
CD- For Three Year Olds and Upward
One Mile and One Sixteenth on the Turf
June 17, 2017

The starting gate will be almost completely full for the 15th running of the Wise Dan Stakes, a Grade 2 event for some of the best turf horses in the country. The race is run at a mile and a sixteenth, which was something that was introduced last year. Formerly, it had been exactly a mile, so this will inhibit all of the comparisons that we could make between the races. Greats of the past that have won the race include Billy Nomates and Stealth Fighter. Also on the list are the still active Seven Years and Sir Tom. It was in 2015 when Sir Tom won the race, and he gets the opportunity to try and win it again today! Here’s a look at the race!

#1- Full Speed Ahead (Night Rider Stables, ridden by S X Bridgmohan)- Six year old autogen gelding makes his 27th career start, and is looking for his first win since October 2015. He’s tried some Grade 1’s lately, such as the Hirsch Turf Classic, and these results make him not look as good as he otherwise seems to be in some of the smaller graded stakes. This is a little closer to being up his alley. Runs for the second time in three weeks, but I think he is going to like this somewhat shorter distance as opposed to what he has been in recently.

#2- The Land (Wolf Ridge Stables, ridden by C H Borel)- The jockey, as of press time, is sitting on an 0-for-16 at this track. Borel, at CD, you’d think that’d be better. The Land is a four year old colt that has managed triple digit speed figures in seven of his last eight races. He won a couple of solid graded events in 2016, such as the Grade 2 Commonwealth at LRL last September, but you’d think his consistency would have resulted in more wins. The lone victory in 2017 was against allowance company, and he comes off a good third in the Grade 3 Fort Mercy, to Spanish Showboat and Carnival O Wow, each of whom just ran in the Manhattan.

#3- Hawaiian Maestro (Ekli Stable, ridden by B J Hernandez Jr)- Earlier this year, he ran a beauty of a race down at FG, winning the FG Handicap (Grade 3), and earning a 103 SRF at the time. Unfortunately, he threw a complete dud in his start after that, making us wonder which start is this four year old more likely to repeat here today. The trainer dropped him into an optional claimer after that poor result, and he would lead for a while, though drop to third in a five horse field. His speed figure was a lot closer to the subpar race, then to the FG Handicap. I’ll be rooting for him. After all, I’ve owned his sire and dam in the past, but I will look elsewhere here.

#4- No Ragrets (Heavens Own, ridden by F Pennington)- One of a handful of three year olds in here that will enjoy a huge six pound weight advantage that absolutely must be considered as a major factor in picking a winner here. That will be good news for No Ragrets, a Commanding foal that is rather unaccomplished to this point, taking a while to break his maiden. He’s got some good works, but he has several threes that he must contend with as well.

#5- Sabre For Kathology (Oval Express Farms, ridden by I Ortiz Jr)- Another three year old with the huge six pound weight allowance. This gelding is lightly raced so far, with just six starts to his credit, and two of them have ended up in victories. The race that he comes off of was his second win, and it came in the $75.000 Alcatraz at GG last month, so the trainer will be hoping that he can build on that here. I’d of liked to have seen a better SRF number from that win. But this is an interesting race, and I tell you, there is not one horse that really stands out at me, and I think he has a great chance here.

#6- Generals Opus (Mb Stables, ridden by J R Velazquez)- This three year old has been very consistent in his young career, finishing in the money in seven of his eight career starts. Three of them were wins, including a triumph in what is always a strong race here, the Grade 2 Summer Stakes at WO. That’s the last time he’s won, but he came close to a huge one in his start after that. At the BC Juvenile Turf last fall, Generals Opus ran a strong second, and was within a length. It might be fair to wonder why he has not been able to win this year, given that effort, even though the finishes have not been poor.

#7- Sir Tom (Brave, ridden by J R Leparoux)- In what should have been a thrilling showdown last month in the Grade 2 Dixie, Sir Tom came up short against rivals like Seven Years, and the eventual winner, Antelope Storm. Weight allowances were not really an issue there as no three year olds were in the field. I want to call Sir Tom the one to beat. This is a fantastic racehorse, and he’s won this race before, doing so in 2015. I simply worry about that six pound weight disadvantage that he is conceding to Generals Opus. Sir Tom is going to be a factor here, and should be in the top three. Not sure he can repeat 2015, however.

#8- Tundra Kenny (Pan Farms, ridden by R J Albarado)- The winner of the 2015 BC Turf has had a career to be proud of. What a great year 2015 was for him, in winning that race, as well as the Grade 1 Sword Dancer. Ahhh, memories. Things don’t last forever, and Tundra Kenny has not seemed to have been able to. That BC Turf win was the last time we have seen him in the winner’s circle. Some smaller grade three’s since then have resulted in third place finishes, but Tundra Kenny needs a reboot. John Henry did well to cash out on this one for $225.000 yesterday. Yes, yesterday. Pan Farms immediately entered him here. I’m not feeling it.

#9- Spring Stormtrooper (Stald Gullis, ridden by R Bejarano)- Enjoying the six pound weight advantage should come in handy for Spring Stormtrooper, and it looks like he is the biggest three year old threat to Generals Opus in this field. He has three wins in nine starts, and back in late April, he was victorious in the Grade 3Thunder Road, a race in which he was able to defeat Generals Opus, so that certainly should get ones attention here. After that win, he dropped into a sprint and ran some blistering opening fractions before tiring out. This race suits him better, and I am making him my pick.

#10- Turn Ninnie (TwinTowersRacing, ridden by F Geroux)- Lightly raced three year old with just five starts, but two were wins, both early in his career. The day after his second win, TwinTowers was very impressed and purchased him in private sales and immediately thrust him into stakes competition. The results don’t really show it was the best move, but the trainer still believes.  I am not a believer, but I have been wrong many times before.

#11- Gallivant (John Henry, ridden by J S Rocco Jr)- The trainer can take heart in knowing that between Gallivant and Tundra Kenny, that he is bringing the better of the two to the starting gate in this race, and he has an extra $225.000 to show for it. Unfortunately, he must contend with this outside post. He’s a BC Turf runner himself, but did that more recently, running ninth in last years event. He knows how to hit the board, having done so in 11 out of 15 career starts, but he seems to enjoy finishing second more then winning. It’s been over a year now since he last won, having done so in the Grade 3 PEN Mile in early June. Not making him one of my picks, but I will pick that he beats Tundra Kenny.

Prediction: 9-5-6-7

— NS

Categories: Grade II, STAKES ARTICLES

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