Wise Dan wins Maker's 46 Mile at Keeneland
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Showing again he's getting better with age, 6-year-old Wise Dan took control at the top of the stretch Friday to win the $300,000 Maker's 46 Mile feature at Keeneland.
With Jose Lezcano aboard, the 2012 Horse of the Year and the race favorite, ran a mile on the turf in 1:36.37. He paid $2.80, $2.10 and $2.10 for his fourth straight Grade I win and fifth in a row overall.
Oldest of the five-horse field, Wise Dan didn't take long to live up to his name in his first start since November's Breeders' Cup Mile victory. Starting outside, he laid back initially but fought to run four-wide on the backstretch before taking control at the final turn. Lezcano's push kept Wise Dan ahead of a determined Data Link, who was a length back in second and returned $3.00 and $2.20.
Mr. Commons paid $2.80 to show.
"I was a little concerned turning for home that maybe he was going to get a little tired when Data Link made a big run at him, but his class prevailed,'' trainer Charlie LoPresti said. "He's training well and we were pretty confident going into this race. We're really happy to get him back and have the champ win.''
Wise Dan created his own tough act to follow after winning five of six starts to seal his selection as 2012's top thoroughbred. That stellar record included a Grade I Shadwell Turf Mile win under Lezcano last November at Keeneland, one of four career victories here for the Kentucky bred coming in.
Owner Morton Fink wasn't sure what to expect from Wise Dan after the long layoff, and LoPresti would have preferred that he run next weekend's 1 1/8-mile Grade III Ben Ali Stakes here on dirt. Afterward, LoPresti hinted that Wise Dan's next start might be the Stephen Foster Handicap at Louisville's Churchill Downs, where he finished second last year to Ron The Geek, ridden by Lezcano.
It's Wise Dan's only loss in his last nine races.
Adding to Wise Dan's legend required withstanding a worthy stretch challenge from Data Link, the defending race winner and a 3-1 second choice. A year ago the Kentucky bred took control down the stretch and won by a neck from the sixth spot, returning last fall to finish fifth in the Shadwell.
Data Link entered Friday with a two-race winning streak including the Grade III Canadian Turf Stakes victory at Gulfstream Park in February and kept pace with Wise Dan after starting from the second post position. But once the field hit the stretch Wise Dan showed his experience and grit, and that made the difference.
"He was very fresh,'' Lezcano said. "He wanted to go on, but I wanted to slow him down. I knew that Data Link would be coming at the end. I waited as long as I could but he's a champion, you know.''
While Fink wouldn't predict what kind of season Wise Dan is capable of, Friday showed that he's aging well.
"As good as he was last year, five months go by and sometimes you need a race,'' he said. "You're never assured in this business, but I'm getting to the point where you almost think nobody can beat him.''
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