Wise Dan heavy favorite for Stephen Foster HandicapJun 15, 2012 - 2:44 PM Louisville, KY (Sports Network) - In spite of having just one start this year, Wise Dan has been made the 8-5 morning line favorite for Saturday night's $400,000 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs. The chestnut five-year- old will face seven other handicap horses in the 1 1/8 mile race on Churchill Downs' main track.
Post-time for the Foster will be 9:40 p.m. (et) as part of the track's "Downs After Dark" program. The winner of the Foster will gain entry into the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic with the race part of the "Win and You're In" Breeders' Cup series.
Wise Dan, trained by Charles Lopresti, was entered with stablemate Successful Dan as a coupled entry. However, only one of the horses owned by Morton Fink will actually start on Saturday night.
"Wise Dan will start in the Stephen Foster and Successful Dan will be entered as a back-up plan," Lopresti said. "I'd hate for Wise Dan to come down with a fever or something before the race and have to be scratched and then we're sitting on the sidelines if we don't enter Successful Dan, too. My goal for Successful Dan is the Suburban (Belmont Park on July 7) or the Cornhusker (Prairie Meadows on June 30)."
Wise Dan will have the riding services of Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez who is fresh off winning the Belmont Stakes aboard Union Rags. Velazquez is also named on Successful Dan.
"Successful Dan is doing really well," Lopresti noted. "but Wise Dan is doing equally as well. I could run either of them, but Wise Dan has only run once this year and Successful Dan has run twice, so Wise Dan gets this assignment."
Wise Dan won the Ben Ali by 10 1/2 lengths at Keeneland on April 22 in his only start this year. The gelding has lifetime earnings of $1,009,601 off nine wins in 15 starts.
"Wise Dan is spot on. He was even rearing up when we were grazing him this morning," Lopresti said Thursday. "The main thing is that he runs well and comes back in good shape and we have a horse for the rest of the year. It's still early in the year, especially for him with it just being his second start."
Wise Dan, who is working on a three race win streak, will start from post three with 5-1 third choice Fort Larned to his inside and Pimlico Special runner-up Nehro on his outside.
Pimlico Special champ Alternation is the 4-1 second pick in the program and will break from the outside post with Luis Quinonez again in the saddle.
"(The Stephen Foster) was always a race we were going to try to make," said trainer Donnie Von Hemel said. "I think with the Oaklawn Handicap and Pimlico Special, he's had a couple of races that make him fit in the race. We're happy and we're looking forward to it."
Alternation, owned by Pin Oak Stable, is undefeated in four starts this year. Along with his wins in the Pimlico Special and Oaklawn Handicap, he captured the Essex and Razorback Handicaps at Oaklawn Park.
The colt has banked $900,004 in 13 career starts with eight wins.
Here is the complete Foster field from the rail out: Nates Mineshaft, Jesse Campbell, 6-1; Fort Larned, Julien Leparoux, 5-1; Wise Dan, John Velazquez, 8-5; Nehro, Corey Nakatani, 8-1; Ron the Greek, Jose Lezcano, 6-1; Rogue Romance, Manny Cruz, 30-1; Mission Impazible, Javier Castellano, 8-1; Alternation, Luis Quinonez, 4-1 and Successful Dan, John Velazquez, 8-5.
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