Wise Dan Stars in Shadwell Turf

By Teresa Genaro

The two-time reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan will be the star this weekend when NBC Sports’ broadcast of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge makes its first stop at Keeneland Racecourse in Lexington, Kentucky for the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile, a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Mile.

The home of a three-week boutique meet, Keeneland is known for the quality of its racing and the beauty of its setting; it’s also Wise Dan’s home track, so it’s perhaps no surprise that he’s won six of nine starts there.

Wise Dan is making his fourth start in the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile; he won in 2012 and went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Mile that year, only the second horse to capture that double; the British-bred Steinlen was the first, in 1989.

A 7-year-old gelding, Wise Dan has won 22 of 30 lifetime races and 16 of his last 18, going back to October 2011. He’s coming off a testing race in the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch at Saratoga in August; looking nearly beaten at several times in the stretch, he and jockey John Velazquez drew on the chestnut’s talent and tenacity to eke out a hard-fought nose win. The victory was all the more remarkable given that Wise Dan underwent surgery for a bout of colic in May.

Facing Wise Dan on Saturday will be Optimizer, the horse he narrowly beat in the Baruch. A veteran of the 2012 Kentucky Derby, in which he finished 11th, Optimizer went on to be a multiple graded stakes winner on the turf, but he’s winless in the last year and a half. Does he have another longshot challenge to the champ in him?

In addition to automatic entry to the Classic, Breeders’ Cup-nominated horses that win Challenge races also have their Breeders’ Cup pre-entry and entry fees paid. North American horses based outside of California also earn $10,000 in travel money.

Horses can be nominated to the Breeders’ Cup as foals the year they’re born; they can be nominated once their racing careers have begun; and they can be nominated once they’ve become stallions. In most cases, the earlier you nominate, the lower the fees, and once nominated, horses are eligible for the Breeders’ Cup program and races for life. Nominators of horses who win Breeders’ Cup viagra online Challenge races also earn $10,000.

The Shadwell Turf Mile will be featured on an NBC Sports Channel broadcast that begins at 4:30 PM this Saturday, October 4 and will include coverage of two other Keeneland races: The First Lady and the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity, the latter a Challenge Series race for the Juvenile Turf.

NBC Sports hosts a double-header at Keeneland this weekend, returning on Sunday for coverage of two more Challenge Series races: The Juddmonte Spinster Stakes and the Dixiana Bourbon Stakes.