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Wise Dan gearing up for another run in the Ricoh Mile at Woodbine

TORONTO, August 28 - Morton Fink's homebred Wise Dan headlines a list of 31 horses nominated to the Grade 1 $1-million Ricoh Woodbine Mile, to be held Sunday, September 13, at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto.

For the eighth consecutive year, the Ricoh Woodbine Mile is part of the Breeders’ Cup  ‘Win and You’re In’ series and will offer the winner an all-expenses paid berth (entry fees and travel costs) into the Breeders’ Cup Mile, slated for Saturday October 31 at Keeneland Racecourse in Lexington, Kentucky.

The 19th edition of one of the premier grass races on the continent will be televised live across Canada on TSN and across the U.S. on FOX Sports 1 as part of The Jockey Club Racing Tour, featuring Grade 1 events from across North America. The winner receives $600,000, while the runner-up gets $200,000.

Wise Dan earned U.S. Horse of the Year honours in 2012 and 2013, both awards capping off seasons in which the champion chestnut captured the Ricoh Woodbine Mile en route to winning the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Mile.

Sidelined from racing since a non-displaced fracture of his fetlock at the bottom of his right front leg was discovered, following a victory in the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland last October, Wise Dan will look to make the Ricoh Woodbine Mile his first step towards a return to the Breeders’ Cup Mile.

Wise Dan posted a five furlong breeze in :59 flat at Keeneland on August 25 as he continues to progress on his return to racing.

“Things are looking very positive. He's been working pretty steady if you follow his work tab,” said LoPresti. “We've been monitoring the progress of his ankle and the radiographs all look good. We've had a couple of really strong works and we've checked him again and they looked good.”

A matter of timing and a chance to race over Woodbine’s familiar E.P. Taylor Turf Course was important for LoPresti.

“It gave us time through the summer to get him fit and ready,” said LoPresti. “He liked Woodbine so well and it gave us that extra time and, of course, it's a Breeders' Cup Win & You're In race so it just made a lot of sense for the horse.”

Sent to post as the prohibitive 1-5 favourite in the 2013 edition of the Woodbine Mile, Wise Dan zipped to victory in track record time of 1:31.75 with John Velazquez on board.

The Wiseman's Ferry chestnut also captured the 2012 edition of the Mile and remains undefeated at Woodbine.

“It's a wonderful turf course, he likes it, and he showed that both times he was up there,” said LoPresti. “I talked to John Velazquez about it and he said that he really likes that turf and it would be a good place to bring him back.”

LoPresti is looking forward to seeing Wise Dan back in action.

“I realize it’s a tough race to come back in a Grade One, but he's done it so many times off the layoff. We’re optimistic. Hopefully, he'll keep going forward,” said LoPresti.

Ultimately, LoPresti will keep the health of the now eight-year-old gelding first and foremost.

“I'm very excited about getting him back, but it's more about him than anything else,” said LoPresti. “He's a super horse and he wants to do it. He showed all the indications in his healing process, and the way he trains, of how competitive he is. He's really happy. As long as he continues to be the horse that he is and continues to compete at that level we'll keep him running.”

Obviously, a multiple Grade 1 winner trained by Philip D’Amato, will ship to Woodbine for the Mile.  The seven-year-old Choisir gelding successfully defended his title in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile in June at Santa Anita, going gate-to-wire for a 1 1/12-length score.

Brian Lynch has nominated two horses to the Woodbine Mile including Grand Arch and Heart to Heart.

Grand Arch, a multiple graded stakes winner owned by Jim and Susan Hill, captured the Grade 2 Fourstardave Handicap last time out at Saratoga besting a field that included fellow Mile nominees Ironicus, Seek Again, Mshawish and Grand Tito.

Mark Casse has nominated a trio of horses including Coastline, Kaigun and Za Approval.

Kaigun, a multiple graded stakes winner, finished second to Trade Storm in the 2014 edition of the Rioch Woodbine Mile. Last time out, the five-year-old Northern Afleet chestnut finished third in the Grade 2 Play the King Stakes behind Mile nominees Reporting Star and Tower of Texas.

In addition to Seek Again, Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott has also nominated multiple graded stakes winner Vyjack and Grade 1 winner Lea, who has won 7 of 17 career starts while banking in excess of $2-million.

Qatar Racing, owners of last year’s Mile winner Trade Storm, has nominated a trio of European invaders including Arod, Lightning Spear and Mr. Owen.

A full list of nominated horses is available below.

The lucrative Sunday, September 13 card also features the Grade 1 $300,000 Northern Dancer Stakes, presented by HPIBet, and the Grade 2 $300,000 Canadian Stakes, which also have Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In status.

In addition, the Saturday, September 12 card at Woodbine includes two Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In races for two-year-olds highlighted by the $200,000 Natalma Stakes for fillies and the $200,000 Summer Stakes, both to be contested at one mile on the grass.

(Source: Woodbine)


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