Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Wise Dan knows how to win the big ones

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TORONTO -- Wise Dan lived up to all the hype on Sunday.

The reigning U.S. horse of the year emphatically defended his title in the $1-million Ricoh Woodbine Mile, earning a comfortable 3 1/2-length victory for his ninth straight graded stakes win. And just for good measure, the six-year-old gelding posted a course-record time of 1:31.75 on a firm turf at Woodbine Racetrack.

"I feel like we've got a great horse," LoPresti said. "What he did today, I mean I say it every time he runs with what he does and how he does things, was really impressive.

"I don't know (about Wise Dan being better now than he was last year). I don't know how much better he can get but he's very good. There's no sign he's slowing down, I can tell you that, for his age. He is a dream come true."

Breaking from post four, Wise Dan effortlessly stalked the pace behind early frontrunners Excaper and Dimension. At the head of the stretch, Wise Dan took off like a rocket, easily passing Excaper and Dimension into the lead.

And that point, the only question that remained was Wise Dan's winning margin. However jockey John Velazquez, who claimed a record fourth Mile crown, said his trip wasn't flawless.

"I think I did a little too much with him in the post parade," Velazquez said. "He was kind of quiet and he broke well and I put him right behind the other two horses and he got rank with me.

"I thought, 'Come on buddy, please come off the bridle a little bit.' Once he did that, I waited until the 5/16ths pole and let him ease out from those two horses and as soon as he saw the wire he just went on."

Wise Dan earned the $600,000 winner's share and a berth in the Breeders' Cup Mile on Nov. 2 at Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif. Wise Dan is the defending Breeders' Cup Mile champion.

It was a record-setting performance for both Wise Dan and his connections. He became the first two-time Mile winner while LoPresti earned his record-tying third straight victory in this event.

Za Approval was second with Trade Storm taking third in overcast, breezy conditions. The remainder of the field, in order of finish, included; Riding the River; Dimension; and Excaper.

Garrett Gomez, the jockey aboard Za Approval, could only tip his cap to Wise Dan.

"He (Za Approval) was just no match for Wise Dan," he said. "There's no shame in that.

"He's the best turf horse in North America."

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 16, 2013 C12

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