New Hall of Famer Velazquez Wins Fourstardave on Wise Dan
By Jon Forbes | 08/12/2012 06:26 PM ET
One day after joining gelding Fourstardave in the Hall of Fame, jockey John Velazquez piloted Wise Dan to an electrifying victory in the 28th running of the Grade 2, $500,000 Fourstardave Handicap on Saturday at Saratoga Race Course.
Wise Dan, who gave Velazquez his eighth win in the turf race for 3-year-olds and up, settled in third along the rail after lunging at the start, with pacesetter Get Stormy dictating fractions of 23.88 and 48.64 seconds.
Shuffled back on the far turn as he waited for an opening, Wise Dan found a seam between Get Stormy and the rail with a furlong to travel, quickly seized command and powered away to a five-length victory. Corporate Jungle was two lengths clear of third-place finisher Get Stormy.
Wise Dan, a 5-year-old gelding making his first start on yielding ground, completed one mile on the inner turf course in 1:37.30. He paid $5 for a $2 win wager as the 3-2 favorite in the field of seven.
“This horse is doing incredible,” said Velazquez, whose father-in-law, Leo O’Brien, trained Fourstardave, a beloved winner at Saratoga for eight straight years. “I was not surprised with the way he ran in the stretch. He was going so well. As soon as I let his head go, he responded really well and took off.”
The Fourstardave was the sixth graded stakes win for Wise Dan, who captured the 2011 Grade 1 Clark Handicap on dirt and established a course record when running away to a 10 ½-length score in the Grade 3 Ben Ali on Keeneland’s Polytrack in April. He entered the Fourstardave off a second, beaten a head by Ron the Greek, in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap on June 16 at Churchill Downs.
After the Stephen Foster, Lopresti decided to send Wise Dan to the Fourstardave and stablemate Successful Dan to the Grade 1 Whitney Invitational Handicap on August 4. A filling in Succesful Dan’s left-front pastern forced that runner to miss the Whitney, but Lopresti decided to stick to his plan to run Wise Dan in the Fourstardave.
“I was trying to keep Successful Dan and Wise Dan apart,” said Lopresti. “I knew Wise Dan was better on synthetic and I knew he liked the grass. [Wise Dan] really didn’t handle the dirt track here, but in the last 10 days he’s really started to handle it well. But it was too late. I wasn’t going to change gears with a horse who never even breezed on the dirt [here].”
With Wise Dan being so versatile, Lopresti and owner Morton Fink have many options to choose from for the gelding’s next start.
“I know he likes this dirt track now,” said Lopresti. “So maybe, 10 days, we may breeze him over it, and maybe [look at the] Woodward [Grade 1, September 3] or the Woodbine Mile [September 16].”
Fink bred Wise Dan, a son of Wiseman’s Ferry, in Kentucky.
Guys Reward was fourth, followed home by Upgrade, Yield Bogey, and Surfider. Data Link and Right One were scratched, as was main-track-only entrant Crossbow.