Wise Dan: steps up in trip for the Woodford Reserve Turf ClassicPICTURE: EquiSport Photos/Matt Wooley
Wise Dan tops Kentucky Derby undercard
Preview: USA, Saturday 9.44pm BST
Churchill Downs: Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (Grade 1) 1m1f, turf, 4yo+
WISE DAN (Charles LoPresti/Jose Lezcano), the reigning Horse of the Year, is the star attraction on the Kentucky Derby undercard as the Breeders' Cup Mile victor bids to extend his estimable record to nine wins in his ten most recent starts.
However, the six-year-old faces at least one formidable opponent in the $500,000 contest in the shape of four-time Grade 1 winner Point Of Entry (Shug McGaughey/John Velazquez), an unlucky second in the Breeders' Cup Turf.
Both horses come to this $500,000 contest on the back of successful returns to action in Grade 1 company.
The ultra-versatile Wise Dan - who can boast top-level form on turf, dirt and all-weather - took the Maker's 46 Mile at Keeneland three weeks ago, while Point Of Entry beat none other than subsequent Dubai World Cup victor in the Gulfstream Turf Handicap in February.
What is more, both horses must overcome another slight concern: Wise Dan has never run over this trip on grass, though it hasn't been a problem on other surfaces, while Point Of Entry prefers slightly further.
Wise Dan is seeking his sixth Grade 1 victory altogether, and his fifth in a row. "He's as good as I've ever had him right now," said trainer Charles LoPresti.
"When he ran a mile and an eighth in the Ben Ali I had a question as to whether he would get it on the synthetic and he did," added the trainer, speaking to the Blood-Horse.
"When he ran a mile and an eighth in the Clark, I wondered if he could get it on the dirt, and he did. I won't know the answer to the mile and an eighth question on the grass until he runs on it, but I know he has done the distance without a problem both times on dirt and synthetic."
Woodford Reserve Turf Classic
Ladbrokes: Evens Wise Dan, 2 Point of Entry, 8 Jeranimo, 12 Slim Shadey, 16 Silver Max, 25 Optimizer, 33 Swift Warrior, 50 Middie, 100 Bim Bam
Churchill Downs: Churchill Downs Stakes (Grade 2) 7f, dirt, 4yo+ (8.49pm BST)
Breeders' Cup Sprint winner Trinniberg (Shivananda Parbhoo/Willie Martinez) returns to dirt after a lacklustre effort on the Tapeta in Dubai.
He breaks from gate eight, one inside chief rival Delauney (Tom Amoss/Rosie Napravnik), who gets 5lb as he bids for a six-timer. Hierro (Todd Pletcher/John Velazquez) has won both starts at this venue.
Churchill Downs: Humana Distaff (Grade 1) 7f, dirt, 4yo+ f/m (7.08pm BST)
Aubby K (Ralph Nicks/Edgar Prado), a three-length winner in Grade 2 company on her seasonal debut, tops this $300,000 event, in which only Emma's Encore (Allen Jerkens/Joe Rocco) has previously scored at the highest level.
Byrama (Simon Callaghan/Joel Rosario) started off with Nigel Tinkler, for whom she won a Carlisle maiden in July 2011.
Churchill Downs: Distaff Turf Mile (Grade 2) 1m, turf, 4yo+ (7.59pm BST)
Rodeo Drive (Yellow Ribbon) winner Marketing Mix (Tom Proctor/Garrett Gomez), runner-up to Zagora in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf, has found a tough spot to make her seasonal debut in a $250,000 event that looks a Grade 1 in all but name.
A strong field also includes Hungry Island (Shug McGaughey/ Javier Castellano), out to complete back-to-back successes, and Grade 1 scorer Daisy Devine (Andrew McKeever/James Graham), who showed up well at Keeneland last month.