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Submitted by John Conte on Friday, August 9, 2013 at 12:00 AM

Wise Dan towers over Fourstardave rivals


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – When he ran in the Fourstardave Handicap last year, Wise Dan was coming off a loss, had not raced on turf in 10 months, and at 119 pounds was in receipt of a pound from the 2010 Fourstardave winner, Get Stormy.

When he runs in Saturday’s Grade  2, $500,000 Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga, Wise Dan comes in as the reigning Horse of the Year, riding a seven-race winning streak that began with his five-length win in this race last year, and at 129 pounds will be spotting his six rivals from 11 to 14 pounds.

What a difference a year makes.

As far as trainer Charlie LoPresti is concerned, 6-year-old Wise Dan is “every bit as good” as the 5-year-old Wise Dan. Wise Dan is the first reigning Horse of the Year to run at Saratoga since Curlin won the 2008 Woodward.

“He’s had three races now and he comes up here and he works like he does,” said LoPresti, referring to a five-furlong work on July 27 in 57.37 seconds over the Oklahoma turf. “If you didn’t know him and you just saw him, he’s not that impressive. Until you watch him train. He gets out there he’s all business.”

Business has been good for Wise Dan, who began the year with victories in the Maker’s 46 Mile at Keeneland and the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill – both Grade 1 races. On June 29, Wise Dan overcame a torrential rainstorm which turned the turf course into green dirt when he won the Grade 2 Firecracker Handicap at Churchill.

When he won the one-mile Fourstardave here last year, the turf course was rated as yielding from day-long rains. There was rain in the forecast for Friday, which could take some sting out of a pretty firm Saratoga grass course.

“I hope we get more cut to the ground,” LoPresti said. “I think it would play a little bit more to a closing style instead of somebody getting on the front end galloping along there. I would like to see it a little softer. It doesn’t have to be a bog.”

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