Wise Dan: bidding to follow up comfortable Woodbine Mile victoryPICTURE:Woodbine/Michael Burns Photography
Wise Dan tops the Keeneland cast list
Preview: USA, Saturday 10.21pm BST (live on ATR)
Keeneland: Shadwell Turf Mile (Grade 1) 1m, turf, 3yo+
SEVERAL experts reckon Breeders' Cup Mile favourite Wise Dan (Charles Lopresti/Jose Lezcano) should be trying for the Classic instead but on Saturday this remarkably versatile performer sticks to the lawn at Keeneland for the Shadwell Turf Mile.
The $750,000 event is the highlight of a card featuring three Grade 1s at the prestigious Lexington track which hosts five graded events altogether on another full of Breeders' Cup preps.
Wise Dan, who last year recorded the highest Racing Post Rating of any US-trained horse, has top-class form on turf, dirt and all-weather. Rain is no problem either, as he is two-for-two on a wet track.
But for a head in the Stephen Foster Handicap he would be unbeaten this year, having broken a track record in a ten-length romp here on the Polytrack in April and then winning twice on turf.
"If he wins it will be like a workout for the Breeders' Cup, but if he struggles, then I've blown the Breeders' Cup," said trainer Charles Lopresti. "He's never been better, otherwise I wouldn't do it."
Jose Lezcano takes over from John Velazquez, who has big rides at Belmont the same day.
The five-year-old is sure to start favourite after a convincing victory three weeks ago in the Woodmile Mile, a similar event no weaker than Saturday's race where Keeneland rival Worthadd (Brian Lynch/Luis Contreras) was only eighth. Last year's Lockinge runner-up has since left Sir Mark Prescott to join his Canadian-based trainer.
The only other Grade 1 winner in the field is Data Link (Shug McGaughey/Alex Solis), who won the Maker's Mark Mile over course and distance in April.
Last year's Dwyer Stakes winner Dominus (Todd Pletcher/ Julien Leparoux) has won twice since being switched to the turf after leaving Steve Asmussen, while the three-year-old Silver Max (Dale Romans/Robby Albarado) rattled up a six-timer of front-running victories before the bubble was burst when he was a beaten favourite in the Secretariat Stakes.
Also on Saturday
Keeneland: Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes (Grade 2) 6f, AW, 3yo+ f/m (8.45pm BST, live on ATR)
Groupie Doll (Buff Bradley/Rajiv Maragh) will be a short price to rubberstamp her credentials for the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint.
Although she cuts back to a trip she's never before encountered, she comes here on a four-timer after three graded-stakes wins, two of them at the top level. Emma's Encore (Allen Jerkens/Junior Alvarado) looks the most serious rival.
Keeneland: First Lady Stakes (Grade 1) 1m, turf, 3yo+ f/m (9.17pm BST, live on ATR)
Half the six-runner field already have Grade 1 wins to their name. Tapitsfly (Dale Romans/Jose Lezcano) won the Just A Game on the Belmont Stakes card but was below that form in the Ballston Spa, where last year's Del Mar Oaks winner Summer Soiree (Graham Motion/Gabriel Saez) was third off a layoff.
They are likely to contest the pace with Daisy Devine (Andrew McKeever/James Graham), who has won both starts at this venue, which could set things up for Ballston Spa runner-up Hungry Island (Shug McGaughey/Julien Leparoux).
Keeneland: Dixiana Breeders' Futurity (Grade 1) 1m½f, AW, 2yo (9.49pm BST, live on ATR)
An open race with a full field, several of whom have no form on a synthetic surface. Six of these last appeared in the Grade 2 With Anticipation Stakes on turf in Saratoga, including the 1-2-3 of Balance The Books (Chad Brown/Julien Leparoux), Joha (Mike Maker/Rajiv Maragh) and Charming Kitten (Todd Pletcher/Javier Castellano).
Tizracer (Todd Pletcher/Jose Lezcano) was a ten-length winner on dirt at Belmont last month, but Pataky Kid (Tom Proctor/Paco Lopez) won a Grade 3 on the Polytrack at Arlington.
Hoosier Park: Indiana Derby (Grade 2) 1m½f, dirt, 3yo (11.15pm BST)
Super Derby winner Bourbon Courage (Kellyn Gorder/Leandro Gonclaves) bids for another rich prize in this $500,000 event.
Hawthorne: Hawthorne Gold Cup (Grade 2 hcap) 1m2f, dirt, 3yo+ (11.50pm BST, live on ATR)
Breeders' Cup Classic possible Alternation (Donnie von Hemel/Luis Quinonez), beaten just once in six starts this term, returns after a two-month layoff as he bids to defy top-weight in this $500,000 contest.
The four-year-old has fired a couple of bullets on the worktab in readiness for this, but he could face a proper duel up front with Nates Mineshaft (Austin Smith/ET Baird), who has won graded stakes at Fair Grounds and Lone Star this season.
Santa Anita: Santa Anita Sprint Championship (formerly Ancient Title) (Grade 1) 6f, dirt, 3yo+ (12.38am Sun BST)
Breeders' Cup Sprint winner Amazombie (Bill Spawr/Mike Smith) follows the same route to the end-of-season championship, held this year over this course and distance.