Wise Dan Assigned High Weight for Stephen Foster Handicap
Morton Fink’s homebred Wise Dan, a 10 1/2-length winner of the Ben Ali (Grade III) in track-record time on Keeneland’s synthetic Polytrack surface, has been named the 123 pound high weight by Churchill Downs’ Racing Secretary Ben Huffman for Saturday’s $400,000-added Stephen Foster Handicap (GI).
The 31st running of the Stephen Foster for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles on the main track will make history as it will be run under the lights for the first time as part of the “Downs After Dark” Presented by Stella Artois and Finlandia Vodka racing program. For the first time, the Stephen Foster Handicap is included in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships’ “Win and You’re In" series and its winner will earn an automatic starting berth in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) on Nov. 3 at Santa Anita.
Wise Dan, a 5-year-old gelded son of Wiseman’s Ferry, was making his 2012 debut in the Ben Ali. In his final start at age 4, Wise Dan bested a field of 13 in the Clark Handicap (GI) at Churchill Downs. The Clark is the lone Grade I victory for Wise Dan, who has won a total five graded stakes races for trainer Charlie Lopresti. Those victories include the Phoenix (GIII) and Fayette (GII) at Keeneland, the Firecracker Handicap (GII) on the Matt Winn Turf Course at Churchill Downs and the aforementioned Clark and Ben Ali.
Wise Dan, a chestnut Kentucky bred, has a record of 9-0-0 from 15 starts and earnings of $1,009,601.
The next high weight at 122 pounds is Pin Oak Stable’s homebred Alternation, who is undefeated in four starts this year. The dark bay or brown son of Distorted Humor recorded his most recent victory in the Pimlico Special (GIII) at Pimlico on May 18. His other 2012 triumphs all came at Oaklawn Park in the Essex Handicap, Razorback Handicap (GIII) and Oaklawn Handicap (GII).
Those four victories improved Alternation’s record to 8-1-1 from 13 career starts and earnings of $900,004 for trainer Donnie Von Hemel.
Mike Lauffer and Bill Cubbedge’s homebred Shackleford, winner of the Met Mile (GI) by a nose over Caleb’s Posse, is weighted next at 121 pounds. The Met Mile was the second graded stakes victory of 2012 for Shackleford, who also won the Churchill Downs Presented by Navistar (GII) on the Kentucky Derby Day undercard. His biggest victory as a 3-year-old came in the Preakness (GI), where he was able to hold off a late charge by Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) winner Animal Kingdom to win for trainer Dale Romans.
Shackleford has a record of 5-4-1 from 16 starts and an impressive bankroll of $2,741,381.