Will Wise Dan Triumph in the Bernard Baruch?

By J. Keeler Johnson ("Keelerman")

My, how time flies! It seems like yesterday that the Saratoga meet began, but believe it or not, the upcoming August 30th card will be the final Saturday program of the meet. Fortunately for racing fans and handicappers alike, the card promises to be a special one, with four graded stakes races on the agenda. In terms of prestige, there’s no denying that the $600,000 Woodward Stakes (gr. I) is the highlight, but in terms of excitement and intrigue, there’s no race better than the $250,000 Bernard Baruch Handicap (gr. II), in which two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan will make his first start since undergoing colic surgery in May. Throw in strong renewals of the Forego Stakes (gr. I) and Prioress Stakes (gr. II), and you have a race card that shouldn’t be missed. Let’s start handicapping!

Woodward Stakes (gr. I)

On paper, this race looks like a rematch between Moreno and Itsmyluckyday, the 1-2 finishers in the Whitney Handicap (gr. I) earlier in the Saratoga meet. The fact is, they have beaten most of the other horses entered in the Woodward—some of them on numerous occasions—and seem poised to run 1-2 around the racetrack while setting a modest pace, which should leave them with plenty in the tank for the stretch run.

At the same time, both Moreno and Itsmyluckyday have been known to throw in poor efforts on occasion, often without any obvious reason. Granted, they run well more often than they don’t, but their slightly inconsistent tendencies make finding a longshot in this otherwise wide-open race an appealing possibility.

There are a couple of horses that I believe warrant consideration. The most obvious is Zivo, who brings a six-race winning streak into the Woodward. All told, he has never finished worse than third in fifteen starts, and last time out, he beat Moreno in the ten-furlong Suburban Handicap (gr. II) at Belmont. Another logical contender is Romansh, who has run competitive Beyer speed figures in the past, but is coming off of two sound defeats in the Whitney and the Suburban.

But the horse I’m really interested in is Stephanoatsee. Last time out, in a nine-furlong allowance race at Saratoga, he closed well off a slow pace (:48.68 for a half-mile and 1:12.96 for three-quarters) to finish second behind lonely leader Abraham. Stephanoatsee ran his own fourth quarter in approximately :23.52 seconds, a solid time, and if the early pace ends up faster than expected, Stephanoatsee could come running to spruce up the exotics.

But do I like him well enough to pick on top? Well, that’s probably stretching things a bit. In all likelihood, Moreno is going to get away with another relatively easy lead, and romp to another gate-to-wire victory while Itsmyluckyday chases him home. But his odds will not be very appealing (he’s the 2-1 morning line favorite), and Stephanoatesee is listed at 30-1. So although I can’t believe I’m writing this, I’m going to pick Stephanoatsee on top, and hope that Itsmyluckyday and/or Prayer for Relief put pressure on Moreno early on and help set up a late run from Stephanoatsee.

Bernard Baruch Handicap (gr. II)

This year’s Bernard Baruch is one of those races that pits the racing fan side of me against my handicapper side. As a fan, I have been eagerly anticipating the return of Wise Dan for weeks, and I’m crossing my fingers that his return from colic surgery results in another stellar victory. But the handicapper within me worries that Wise Dan could be vulnerable in his first start since the surgery, and this—coupled with the fact that Wise Dan will be conceding from eight to thirteen pounds to his eight expected rivals—has led me to "officially" pick against him on Saturday, even though I feel bad doing so.

I’m fairly certain that no horse will beat Wise Dan from off-the-pace, so in handicapping the race, I turned my focus to the horses that possess good tactical speed; my thinking being that a talented front-runner with a light impost will have the best chance to steal the race.

One horse that fits the bill is Five Iron. If one excuses his poor showing last time out, when he got pushed through a very fast pace in the Nijinsky II Stakes (gr. II) at Woodbine, his recent form looks very good. Two starts back, he opened up an early lead of almost ten lengths while recording fractions of :48 and 1:11.73 in the ten-furlong Manhattan Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont, yet still stayed on well enough in the stretch to finish fifth, beaten just three lengths. The cutback in distance to a mile and a sixteenth should greatly aid his chances, and he will carry eight pounds less than Wise Dan. I believe that is the recipe for a potential upset.

Who do you like this weekend?


Leave a Comment:

Little Bill

Wow Keelerman, you really took me by surprise with Stephanoatsee. My compliments for not chalkin' up.

I've been trying to picture Micromanage on top. Typically I like a horse that stays close to the pace in longer races and then cuts back. It can help turn of foot when it counts. Problem is I don't see him gaining real ground in any of his shorter races. I saw him at 12 or 15-1 so 8 was a little disappointing. I am wrestling with Norumbega as well. Good luck.

28 Aug 2014 11:54 PM

I like Zivo's last win in the Suburban and I'm actually surprised to see him at 5-1 ML.   I don't think Moreno can win back to back G1s, but I'm wrong most often than not.   I'm going to play Zivo and IMLD here but will probably use 4 horses here in my P4.

Wise Dan at 3/5, a bit low for him who's coming back from surgery and a long layoff.   I like Skyblazer to upset here, he was closing fast and not much urging last time out and WD giving him 11lbs.  I also like Sayaad to hang on for the show.

Miss Behaviour in the Prioress and Capo Bastone to light up the board in the Forego.

29 Aug 2014 3:00 AM
Pedigree Ann

After the Ebor meeting at York (named 'Eboricum' by the Romans; the Vikings who came later called it 'Yorvik'), it has been a quiet week in UK/Ire races. Oh, there were a lot of courses that ran on the Monday Bank Holiday, but the quality wasn't there.

By the way, Keelerman, the first G1 of the season in New Zealand is set for tomorrow at Hastings, the Makfi Challenge. (It used to have another name, which I forget at the moment.)  Looking down the entries, I find the years have slipped on by me and some of the star entries are older than I thought. Veyron is NINE. Xanadu is 6, and here I thought she was only 4 or 5.

Hotel room reserved and tickets ordered for the Irish Champion S. next month. Australia, here I come! The horse, not the country. Do you know, of the 20 TB horses registered under that name in the various jurisdictions over 200+ years, he is the only male? It's even worse for Adelaide, since that is a female name, given to the city he was named for - only male from 35 registered. Teased by the other colts in the shedrow?

Oh, yes, Saratoga racing. Itsmyluckyday has been getting back into his top form following the recovery from his pelvic fracture. He was farther back early than usual in the Whitney and couldn't close the gap, so I expect he will be ridden more forwardly from his rail post. I've always liked him for his "gutsiness" (if that is a word) and he is one of Ron's kids, too. An honest miler, good at what he does.

29 Aug 2014 6:55 AM
English Pete

Hi Pedigree Ann, the Makfi previously went under the catchy title of 'Mudgway Partsworld Stakes'. I know you like Southern Hemisphere racing so do try and tune into (live or replay) the Memsie Stakes from Caulfield, Aus, tomorrow. It's off at 7.40am UK time and 6 of the 11 runners are Group 1 winners. The race typically provides future G1 winners including Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup. Six subsequent G1 winners came out of last year's version, and past winners of the race include Makybe Diva and So You Think.

So, to Saratoga. For the life of me I cannot see why Itsmyluckyday won't reverse form with Moreno, or at least why he's not the favourite. IMLD is 4lbs better off for just over a length, Moreno shouldn't be allowed quite such a comfortable lead and there was also that weird late switch from the rail that IMLD made last time which must have cost some momentum. I'd make a case for Zivo over 10f but at 9f Moreno should just have the edge over him. I can't have Romansh or any of the others and have backed IMLD at 11/4 fixed odds over here. Keelerman, if Stephanoatsee wins than 'Chapeau' to you Sir, as I'm missing whatever it is that you're seeing.

Keelerman, I agree Wise Dan's race has everything needed for a potential upset. Like everyone (I imagine) I'd love to see him win, but my wallet says that first time up after surgery for colic Wise Dan must be opposed. We don't have any prices available here and I may flirt with Sayaad if I can get some 8/1. However, If Wise Dan is odds on I'll definitely lay him on the exchanges.

Once again your racing trumps ours tomorrow so I'll be tuning in after dinner.

29 Aug 2014 10:59 AM

Check out WD's photo here (number 7) :


He looks like a seasoned athlete who had a workout, sweaty hair and all.  He doesn't look old or beat up or used up, and he looks very alert.

29 Aug 2014 12:09 PM
Pedigree Ann

English Pete - yep, I'll be up for Memsie in the am. Last weekend, I was up for the Warwick but my live video links weren't working, (at Twinspires, now resolved, nor at 'Australian TB Racing in the Americas!', which is still dark) so I had to wait for replays.  Which I always have to do with New Zealand, because I don't have a live link. Hope the ground isn't as heavy as it was at Randwick - too many scratches!

Sorry to hijack your blog, Keelerman. The Aussie horses are raced the way I remember American racing being - horses ran in prep races to get fit, would race every week or every other week for a campaign of several months, then a 'spell'. Rinse, repeat. Take their chance and carry the weight they deserve for their accomplishments and their people don't get all 'my poor little horsey is so fragile' about it.

29 Aug 2014 2:21 PM
Pedigree Ann

P.S. No wonder I couldn't remember the previous name of the Makfi! This is why I am ambivalent about sponsor-named races;  do you remember the 'General Accident 2000 Guineas?' And the 'Ireland the Food Isle' Champion S.?' Names that make you want to giggle.

29 Aug 2014 2:26 PM
English Pete

Pedigree Ann, don't even get me going on race names!  Anyway, I've done Moment of Change each way in the Memsie.  Going is good after 4 days of sunshine.  Randwick's loss is Caulfield's gain as a lot of tomorrow's runners are dropouts from last week.

29 Aug 2014 5:10 PM


$10 Tri 2,4 w 2,4 w 1-3-5-6-7

$2 super 2-4 w 2-4 w 1-3-5-6-7 W 1-3-5-6-7

R8  $1 P4

6-8 W 5-6-8 W 1-5-10 W 1-2-4


$2 P3

5-6-8 W 1-5-10 W 1-2-4

29 Aug 2014 6:20 PM

hi all

I like Norumberga to close in a exacta with Moreno.

What's the story with Optimizer, why is he 30-1 ??, Wisedan has beaten me more than any horse, I doubt I will bet against him.


29 Aug 2014 6:35 PM


Lukas does not train Optimiser anymore.

His last 2 races are dismal!

29 Aug 2014 9:06 PM


30 Aug 2014 1:27 AM
Pedigree Ann

Always read the comments on the Australian form from my site and came across this little fact on Boban's - "Followed spell with 17-1/4 len 11th  to It's A Dundeel, where bled first time - three month ban: 2000m R'wick Queen Elizabeth Dead trk Apr 19."  

So Boban is a bleeder! Next strike and he is out; banned from racing if he bleeds again. Son of US stallion Bernardini, had to be gelded before he found his best form and looks like a good thing they did it because a stallion who bleeds would be a tough sell in Oz.  

Boban ran okay in the Memsie, but not like his brilliant self from last spring. Silent Achiever, the mare who won the New Zealand Derby a few years back, ran a bit better - decent 4th - and got some rust off for the 10f+ races to come that are her metier. Winner was Dissident, a new 4yo who won a G1 with his age cohort last year but couldn't handle elders; a year older and stronger now, probably will stick to milerish events. Sweet Idea, the 4yo filly who ran second, will stay with sprinting; she is, after all, by Snitzel.

30 Aug 2014 3:23 AM


My P4 should read 6-8 W 5-6-8 W 1-3-8 w 1-2-4

P3 R9 5-6-8 W 1-3-8 W 1-2-4

Bernard Baruch

$ 5 TRI  Wise Dan w Boisterous, Sayaad w all

$2 TRI  Boisterous, Sayaad w Wise Dan w All

Good Luck

30 Aug 2014 9:21 AM

Like the following horses at Saratoga.

1) #7 (12 if he gets in)

3) #7, 9

6) #9, 10

12) #8, 12

Big bet is Pick 3 Race 7) 4,5,9/5,8/3,7,8,9

30 Aug 2014 9:39 AM


I zoned in on some of the same races as you,

R 3)   I like the 11 over the 9, just cause Rosiaro choose this one over the 9, longshot but it;s saratoga.

R6) I agree 9, 10. Prob take the 9 over 10.

R 7) - 5 10

R12)  7, 12

30 Aug 2014 10:00 AM

Also like #2 Stonetastic in R8......numbers fit, underrated Jock and trainer.

30 Aug 2014 10:08 AM
Daniel Jividen

It's been a long time since Wise Dan has been this vulnerable.  At 3-5 ML he's a definite bet against.  But I can't bring myself to bet against Ol Dan.  This afternoon I'm going to take off my handicapper's hat,  put on my fan's hat, and just enjoy the 2014 Bernard Baruch Handicap along with all the other members of the vast and growing Wise Dan Admiration Society.  

30 Aug 2014 10:27 AM
Plod Boy Phil


Woodward: The 1,4,9 get the upgrades.


Sunday Saratoga, R11

11 Cheyenne Nation notched a modestly upgraded win when bold for Flow players last out - she'll maintain the lofty status as a 'Neutral or Better Winner'. However, on four weeks rest with an inspiring pair of works in hand (increasing distances), they DROP in claiming price, yet acquire the services of the leading rider.  This raises two questions,  1) Did connections enjoy winning at Saratoga so much that they want to do it again ? Or 2) Is there something 'not quite right' today ?

Barring a gross underlay situation, I'll play back some of the win mutual. Those adept at on track appearance, and perhaps the tote, may have an edge.

30 Aug 2014 11:35 AM
English Pete

Before I go off to dinner, here are my bets for this evening:

I've singled Missbehaviour (5/2); Clearly Now (6/4); and Itsmyluckyday (11/4).

I've also done three doubles and a treble on the above. Missbehaviour looks a cut above the competition; unless you think Clearly Now's last run was a fluke, 6/4 has to be good value and I think main danger Palace could even miss the first three over 7f; IMLD has every chance of avenging his last defeat by Moreno and probably ought to be favourite.

I've laid Wise Dan to lose at 4/7. I'd love to see him win, and he's by far the most likely winner, but I would think Ev or 4/5 is about the right price. First time up after surgery, and giving lumps of weight, as a 'value' player I have to oppose him.

Good luck everybody.  I'll miss Wise Dan's race but will be tuning in for the later races.

30 Aug 2014 1:33 PM
Little Bill

I believe IMLD and Moreno have some proving to do, and they could, if not we're going to have a G3 horse win a prestigious G1. It won't be the first time.

30 Aug 2014 2:21 PM

Going to play a .50c tri and super with Skyblazer/Wise Dan with Skyblazer/Wise Dan /Sayaad / North Star Boy...and a $2 EXB on those two.

Prioress :  I think the inside horses both have a very good shot at hitting the board here.  They'll be gunning it from the rail but I think both have natural speed.  I hope they go 21 / 45 and have enough to left to hit the board.   MB will be tracking those two and putting them away on the home stretch.  If speed holds though, the 1 or the 2 may have a shot at upsetting the two favorites.

6 with 1, 2, 5 for tri and super.   Will play a .50 trifecta : 2,1 with 2,1,6,5 with 2,1,6,5.

30 Aug 2014 2:44 PM

I think Five Iron can get a piece on the front

30 Aug 2014 2:59 PM

Last Gunfighter- today is the day, 15-1 ML, don't just dismiss.....

Kri Tashus

30 Aug 2014 3:13 PM

cold facts posted analysis on other blog

30 Aug 2014 3:26 PM

predict : I was hoping no one would notice him in this race, I've been on this horse this year but so far he has lost me money, hopefully I'll get my money back today.  It's interesting the top two jockey that rode him in his last two races chose other horses (Rosario on Stephanoatsee and Castellano on Norumbega)...maybe Joe is the key.

TnT : I knew he wouldn't be able to keep himself from posting...I don't see his update in Haskin's blog though, which one did he post his comments on ?  I did see his break down of Shared Belief's win in the Pacific Classic....I called it !

I'm off to the races... good luck to all !   Looks like speed is holding at Saratoga...

30 Aug 2014 4:08 PM
Pedigree Ann

In answer to your title question: Yes, just barely, but yes.

30 Aug 2014 4:51 PM

Wise Dan is back!! What a thrilling finish! It looked like he was in trouble coming off the final turn, but he held on with determination to defeat Optimizer by a nose. The final time was a quick 1:39.08 seconds, just 0.17 seconds off the track record set by the legendary Fourstardave in 1991.

TnT -- Great call on Optimizer! He ran terrific at a huge price!

In the upcoming Prioress Stakes, I'll take a shot with Princess Violet at 5-1, although she could be a bit short with only one recorded workout this month. Good luck to all!

30 Aug 2014 5:03 PM

nice win stonestastic!

don't think they will catch Moreno on that track.

30 Aug 2014 5:06 PM


Great job with Stonetastic in the Prioress Stakes! Looks like you're having a great day! Good luck with Moreno and Norumbega in the Woodward!

30 Aug 2014 5:08 PM
Pedigree Ann

The Prioress - Now THAT was playing to your strength. Go to the lead and improve your position.

30 Aug 2014 5:14 PM
Rusty Weisner

The Forego and Woodward are on tv so I just popped in to see if I have any ideas for a bet.  Whoever picked Stonetastic, I just wanted to bet that one after glancing at the odds and pps, but the race was off.  That was a good pick - this was a classy horse that needed some reworking.

No ideas today.  Maybe I'll bet some money on 30-1 Sensational Slam to PS in the Forego after chasing at Monmouth, maybe one or both of the two out of the NYB.

30 Aug 2014 5:17 PM
Rusty Weisner

Track playing to speed?  

DD R10-11: 2,9/2,4

30 Aug 2014 5:49 PM

i am going to take at shot on Zee bros, looked awful last out, but speed track, will box with the fav.

30 Aug 2014 5:51 PM
Little Bill

Maybe Coldfacts is trying to avoid a Confrontation.

30 Aug 2014 5:59 PM

the 10 also looks pretty good

30 Aug 2014 6:00 PM
Rusty Weisner

I ended exactas, the 2 and 9 with the two favorites and hit it for $120, wow.  Most of my money was on the DD, though, and I didn't take either favorite.  I'm boxing up 1,4,9 in $5 exactas for a total of $30 in the Woodward and calling it a day.  I may add some more with Moreno to the exclusion of IMLD.  Now that I said that I think I will:  add $6 4-1 straight, $2 box 4/1.

30 Aug 2014 6:26 PM

Great job, Rusty Weisner! Good luck in the Woodward!

30 Aug 2014 6:31 PM

With five minutes to post time for the Woodward, Moreno is only the third choice in the wagering at 3-1, with both Itsmyluckyday and Zivo being 5-2. I wouldn't have guessed that!

Prayer for Relief at 20-1 seems rather high, given that he ran well in both the Suburban and the Whitney. He definitely offers better value at this point than Stephanoatsee, who has been bet down to 23-1.

30 Aug 2014 6:43 PM

As they approach the starting gate, Moreno and Itsmyluckyday are now the co-favorites at 5-2, with Prayer for Relief having risen even higher to 23-1.

30 Aug 2014 6:46 PM

rough call

30 Aug 2014 6:55 PM
Rusty Weisner

Those 1's were terrible, with no excuse, but I made $15 on that race.  Great day.  Left $50 up.

30 Aug 2014 6:56 PM
Rusty Weisner

Make that $80.  That was fun.  

30 Aug 2014 6:59 PM

Congratulations, Rusty Weisner! Great job!

30 Aug 2014 7:12 PM
Rusty Weisner


I played the 2 and the 9 in the Forego after keeping in mind how the horses out of the Curlin did:  I think when multiple entries move up out of the same minor stakes, especially on the same track, maybe it's a good sign about the race.

30 Aug 2014 7:37 PM

Hit the Tri for $10 in the Woodward

30 Aug 2014 9:13 PM

Does anyone know why they didn't have supers in the Woodward, They cost me money! Not complaining though I had a great day.

30 Aug 2014 9:21 PM

Does anyone know why no super in the Woodward? Would have had a nice one for$2.00

Did have the Tri for $10 so not complaining but opportunities like this do not come often.

Congrats Rusty W

30 Aug 2014 9:39 PM
Rusty Weisner

NBC had a nice interview with Tom Durkin, where he concluded with "...not to quote Cicero on you or anything, but it's a rhetorical device called 'tricolon'."  (He was referring to his call of a race that Cigar won where he concluded "...unconquerable, invincible, unbeatable!").  Durkin is what some at the track might call "a intellectual."  I will have to tune in tomorrow, or at least view the replay.

30 Aug 2014 10:00 PM
Little Bill

Congrats to those that cashed today.

30 Aug 2014 10:43 PM

Little Bill : I doubt that very much.

Nice win by Stonetastic, he ran the same race as his previous one and with the speed holding, I thought she had a really good shot.  I didn't really want to play the 5 horse with all the speed but I got suckered into the ML.  It was a good start on my GS but quickly got killed with Rosie's horse.

Wise Dan is back.   I think Doug O'Neill will re-examine their plans to try Goldencents on the turf (Shadwell) against WD.   I think it'll be suicide.  I hope WD comes of the race okay, he looked extended but considering he's coming back from a surgery and a long layoff, he was probably not really at 100%.... 1:39 for 8.5F... this guy is truly a beast.

31 Aug 2014 2:06 AM
English Pete

I'm not talking through my pocket as IMLD was by far my biggest bet, but I found the main track bias annoying given there were Grade 1s at stake. I almost didn't bother staying up to watch the Woodward. I appreciate there is often some kind of bias, but to see over half the field in each race have no chance after only 300 yards was disappointing.

Finally, there are some churlish comments on UK sites this morning about Wise Dan.  Personally I thought he did at least as much as could have been expected, and that he was impressive.  I hope he comes out of the race well, and look forward to seeing him in the flesh at the Breeders' Cup.

31 Aug 2014 5:30 AM

Just bet a race (purely from odds) from UK Worcester on xpressbet which is a 2 7/8M hurdle race and just noticed that they're carrying bricks them.  The favorite is carrying 166 lbs, the lightest is 142 lbs, and they'll be jumping hurdles.   Just amazing...wonder if there are 3 YOs over that races hurdles and carries similar weights.  I'm thinking hurdles are just for older males, seems like it would be too much for a 3YO.

31 Aug 2014 11:44 AM
Little Bill

JayJay, That comment I made was a play on words with the Forego coming up. I agree with your doubt. Odd move by that one.

31 Aug 2014 3:46 PM
English Pete

Hi Jayjay, in hurdles races in Britain three year-olds will carry 154 as a matter of course, and 156 quite often once they have won a race. They hurdle as three year-olds in the latter part of the year, and we have a major 4-y-o championship race at Cheltenham in March (obviously all of the three year olds turn four on Jan 1). Subsequently the top 4-y-olds tend to struggle in all aged races until the following season when they have strengthened and gained experience.

31 Aug 2014 5:03 PM
Rusty Weisner

Another winning two-race day at the track.  Timonium, Maryland state fair (first time at this homely 6f track).  Took the kids' numbers in R3 and hit the exacta, mixed up all our numbers and bet too many combinations in R4 and lost $18 despite hitting the tri. Up $2, beats losing. If anyone wants to catch a speed bias there you've got one day left there.  

31 Aug 2014 8:28 PM

English Pete : Thanks, I kind of cringed reading that, it's almost like animal abuse to me but I know that it's definitely not.  I'm just used to how our 3YOs are over here in the US lol.  I think if you put 130 on a 3YO here, they won't come out of the gate...they'll think something's wrong...and you'll probably have PETA or some animal rights abuse group complaining about animal abuse lol.   I don't know if any US horse has ever carried that much weight, not even horses from the past, I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong.   My back started to ache just reading that.

I'll be sure to look at the EU races on expressbet for any 3YO hurdles.  I like watching the races in the mornings before I go and lose my money at the track.

01 Sep 2014 12:46 AM

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