Ricoh Woodbine Mile Notes for Friday, September 13, 2013
THE CHAMP IS HERE! WISE DAN ARRIVES AT WOODBINE
Wise Dan arrived at Woodbine early Friday morning, set to defend his title in the Grade 1, $1-million Ricoh Woodbine Mile.
The champion chestnut enjoyed a pick of grass on a cool, grey Woodbine morning and has settled in nicely.
Wise Dan’s trainer, Charles LoPresti, arrived a few short hours later from his Lexington base and is looking forward to seeing the reigning Horse of the Year race over the E.P Taylor Turf Course.
"I love this turf course," said LoPresti. "It’s a safe course and he raced well here last year."
Wise Dan, with Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez up, will leave from Post 4 in Sunday’s tilt.
"I think no matter where he breaks from he’s going to put himself in the race and be in a good position," said LoPresti. "I think it’s better than the one hole. I’m happy with it and don’t have any bad feelings about it."
A tracking trip will be the most likely route to the winner’s circle for Wise Dan.
"Johnny won’t let him go to the lead, he never does. He just tucks him in somewhere," said LoPresti. "He knows him well enough and he’s such a good rider that I don’t even tell him much anymore. He studies the Form as much as I do, who am I to tell him what to do? He’s out there, it’s his job, and a world class rider doesn’t need me to tell him. All I need to tell him is that the horse is fit enough and ready to run."
LoPresti, who conditioned Turallure to a memorable score in the 2011 edition of the Woodbine Mile, is in the process of mapping out a comfortable schedule for Wise Dan’s title defense.
"Today (Friday) we’ll let him have an easy day and walk around here," said LoPresti. "On Saturday, I’d like to get him onto the turf and let him jog and gallop a little bit like he did last year. We might paddock school him tomorrow afternoon. It depends how he is. He’s a pretty smart horse and I don’t want to take too much away from him. Maybe I’ll take him out and see how he acts tomorrow. After that, he’ll walk Sunday, run and then leave Monday morning."
Za Approval also arrived on early Friday morning from New York, while fellow Mile contender Dimension shipped up from Kentucky on Thursday morning.
HALL OF FAMER JOHN VELAZQUEZ TO SIGN WISE DAN PHOTOS ON SUNDAY
Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, regular rider of reigning U.S. Horse of the Year Wise Dan, will take part in an autograph signing on Sunday’s Woodbine Mile card.
Velazquez, who guided Wise Dan to a 3 1/4-length score in the 2012 Woodbine Mile, will sign free commemorative photos for fans from 1:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. on the second floor, next to the customer service desk.
John Velazquez, inducted into the U.S. Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2012, capped a phenomenally successful 20-year career as a jockey with a victory in the 2011 Kentucky Derby aboard long shot Animal Kingdom, a mount he only obtained one day before the big race as a replacement for Robby Albarado.
Velazquez, a two-time Eclipse Award winner, took over as Wise Dan’s regular rider with a 3 3/4-length score in the 2011 edition of the Grade 1 Clark Handicap, at Churchill Downs. Since that victory, Velazquez and Wise Dan have teamed up to win six additional graded events.
The Hall of Fame jockey is full of admiration for the champion chestnut with the high-cruising speed.
"He can be pretty tough," admitted Velazquez. "I think that’s why he’s a little bit better (than other horses). He allows you to control the first part of the race and that’s why he’s become the horse that he is, because he can do what he wants in the first part of the race."
Velazquez believes that Wise Dan, trained by well-regarded horseman Charles LoPresti, is continuing to improve with age.
"As they become older, they get a little bit better as well and train a little bit differently," said Velazquez. "Charles is doing a great job with him."
Last time out, Wise Dan carried 129 pounds over a good Saratoga turf and was up in time to reel in the speedy King Kreesa in the Grade 2 Fourstardave Handicap.
"He was going really well the whole way around and running pretty easily," recalled Velazquez. "I was pretty confident I was going to get there."
Having piloted Wise Dan to graded victories on turf, synthetic and traditional dirt, Velazquez is hard pressed to select a favourite win with the fan favourite.
"It’s difficult to pick just one. He’s been so good that every race I win with him is special," said Velazquez. "Each time out it’s a different group of horses, different track. I have to pick every one of them."
On Sunday, Velazquez will look to add to his excellent numbers at Woodbine where he has won nine races, six of them Grade 1 events, including a record three wins in the Mile: (2000, Riviera; 2005, Leroidesanimaux and 2012, Wise Dan).
"I’ve been very lucky up there, but I’ve also been on good horses," said Velazquez. "When you ride good horses, you have confidence to give them the best possible ride and that alone is more than half the battle."
The Hall of Famer acknowledges that having a game plan for Woodbine’s expansive E.P. Taylor Turf Course, and one-turn mile, is a key to his success.
"You need to have that on your radar, study it, and not use your horse too early in the race," he said. "Everywhere we go, I have to be prepared and having a good horse like Wise Dan helps a lot."
And as for what makes Wise Dan that much more special than his peers?
"Talent, courage and heart," said Velazquez. "It’s the whole package. You can’t have just one and not the other. He has such a great team behind him. The team has done an exceptional job to keep him going the same way all the time. That’s hard to do. He really is the whole package."
SPORTSNET 360 TO AIR RICOH WOODBINE MILE
The 17th edition of the Ricoh Woodbine Mile is slated to go postward at 5:38 pm ET. Sportsnet 360 will provide special 90 minute live coverage of the racing extravaganza from Woodbine from 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm ET.
Jason Portuondo will host the telecast with Gemini Award recipient Jim Bannon providing the analysis. Sandy Hawley and Chad Rozema are the on-track reporters. Rob Platts is the producer and Kris Platts is the director. Dan Loiselle will call the action.
TVG, the prominent U.S. horse racing channel, will also offer coverage.
Features scheduled for the telecast include a piece on the owner’s of Riding The River and their success playing the horse game much like many play the stock market and a profile on trainer Ian Black who 5 years ago captured this race with longshot Rahy’s Attorney and now looks to return to the Ricoh Woodbine Mile winner’s circle with Excaper.
RICOH WOODBINE MILE WEBSITE FEATURES WISE DAN ARRIVAL IMAGES
The Ricoh Woodbine Mile website www.woodbinemile.com
features several images of Wise Dan’s arrival at Woodbine. Fans can click on the Photos tab to reach shots of all of the contenders in Sunday’s race.
FIELD FOR SUNDAY’S RICOH WOODBINE MILE
Post / Horse / Owner / Trainer / Jockey
1 / Riding the River/Dominion Bloodstock, HGHR & Linmac Farms/Dave Cotey/Todd Kabel
2 / Excaper / Richard Kaster & Frederick Wieting / Ian Black / Luis Contreras
3 / Trade Storm / Qatar Racing Ltd. / David Simcock / Gary Stevens
4 / Wise Dan / Morton Fink / Charles LoPresti / John Velazquez
5 / Dimension / Riverside Bloodstock LLC / Conor Murphy / David Moran
6 / Za Approval / Live Oak Plantation / Christophe Clement / Garrett Gomez