The Grade 1 $500,000 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic always offers a view at the top turf runners and this year is no exception. Horse of the Year Wise Dan and multiple grade one winner Point of Entry will vie in this 27th running of the event.
Wise Dan has won on turf, synthetic, and dirt. He’s strung together five straight wins (four of them grade ones, including the Breeders’ Cup Mile) since the Grade 2 Four Star Dave at Saratoga Aug. 11 and is the reigning Horse of the Year. He’s trained by Lexington-based trainer Charles LoPresti and has been installed as the slight favorite at odds of 6-5. Jose Lezcano will be in the irons.
Point of Entry, a son of Dynaformer, has finished first in six of his last eight races, including the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap in his last start Feb. 9; that victory came 1 ¼ lengths in front of 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom. He’s trained by Hall of Fame trainer Claude “Shug” McGaughey, III. Point of Entry is the slight second choice in the field at odds of 7-5. Jockey John Velazquez has the mount.
The interesting thing about these two grade one winners and their connections is the relationships between them. Wise Dan’s trainer, Charles LoPresti, is the brother-in-law to Point of Entry’s trainer, Shug McGaughey; their wives are sisters. Also, one of McGaughey’s sons works with LoPresti. The jockeys, Lezcano and Velazquez, have each ridden the two horses to victory.
Based on past performance, the winner of this race should be Wise Dan or Point of Entry. The rain coming down at Churchill Downs may produce a yielding or soft turf, but each has a win over that type of surface. However, upsets happen all the time.
A potential upset winner in this field might be Optimizer. Installed at a morning-line of 20-1, this son of the great turf runner English Channel, has won over turf courses rated soft and yielding. His speed figures put him on par with the favorites and he’ll get hot-jock Joel Rosario aboard.
The race is the 10th on the card with a schedule post time of 4:44 p.m. EDT.
Photo: Courtesy Breeders’ Cup