Wise Dan, 2012 Horse of the Year, rolled through the stretch to post a repeat victory in Saturday's $500,000 Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga Race Course.
Trained by Charles LoPresti and ridden by Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, Wise Dan drew even with pacesetter King Kreesa at the top of the stretch and then rolled to a 1 1/4-length victory in the mile turf race.
King Kreesa, 5-1 third choice, set the pace in the six-horse field with 9-2 second pick Lea on the outside in second and the 2-5 favorite on the rail in third. The top three kept their positions up the backstretch and into the final turn.
Wise Dan, owned by Morton Fink, moved to the outside on the turn to find better running space. The 6-year-old gelding caught King Kreesa coming into the stretch and powered his way to an eighth straight victory.
"I'll tell you, he's amazing," Velazquez said. "All the weight they put on him and he's still running the same way he's always done it. Come back race after race and show up the way he did it today, it's incredible."
King Kreesa held onto second followed by Lea, Mr Commons, Willyconker and Skyring. Za Approval was scratched.
The defending race winner, carrying 129 pounds, covered the mile in 1:34 on a 'good' turf course. Last year with 119 pounds, Wise Dan stopped the timer at 1:37.30.
"I think it showed everybody what kind of horse he was," noted LoPresti. "With the weight on his back and the fractions up front, they went slow the first quarter. That horse, King Kreesa, ran a great race. He just gunned them down and he showed everybody under adversity he can still run the way we think he can."
The gelding, undefeated in four starts this year, adds $300,000 to his bank account. He has won 17 of 24 career starts for $4,464,070.
Wise Dan won the Firecracker Handicap at Churchill Downs on June 29. He began 2013 with wins in the Maker's 46 Mile and Woodford Reserve Turf Classic. The gelding hasn't lost since capturing last year's Fourstardave Handicap.
"We're just going to let the horse tell us," LoPresti commented on Wise Dan's next race. "As Mr. Fink always says 'one race at a time.' We'll see how he comes out. If he comes out good maybe Woodbine, maybe wait till Kentucky Derby. We'll just let him tell us."
Wise Dan returned $2.80, $2.30 and $2.10. King Kreesa paid $3.80 and $2.50, and Lea paid $2.40 to show.