Wise Dan holds off Data Link to win the Maker's 46 Mile Stakes on Friday at Keeneland Race Course. (Photos courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire)
As we wait to find out if this year’s crop of 3-year-olds will provide the ultimate thrill or yet another Triple Crown tease, hovering in the background is a somewhat foreign flavor to this racing season.
As much as Verrazano or Orb or another sophomore runner may prove to be the brightest star of all by year’s end, at the present time, before rose becomes the red-hot color sensation, green is as fashionable as it was last weekend at the Masters.
Reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan made a successful return to the races this past Friday in the Maker’s 46 Mile at Keeneland, posting his fifth straight win on grass and sending off another loud signal that turf racing no longer belongs solely to the Europeans.
As much as Wise Dan may race next on dirt in the Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs, there should be plenty of green in his future as the year progresses.
Beyond that, Point of Entry is also back and opened the year with a grass stakes victory in the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap, beating no less of a formidable rival than Animal Kingdom, who won the Dubai World Cup in his very next start.
Thanks to them and Little Mike, the U.S. was able to stand tall at in the main Breeders’ Cup turf races for the first time in a long while and an encore could be in the making.
Wise Dan held off Animal Kingdom to win last year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile to highlight a 1-2-3 U.S.-based finish.
In the Breeders’ Cup Turf, Little Mike and Point of Entry accounted for a nice All-American 1-2 punch.
THE AMERICANS LEAD IN THE BREEDERS' CUP TURF
Little Mike fizzled in a pair of starts last month in Dubai, but hopefully will rebound back on these shores. If he does, it gives U.S. racing fans reason to focus a little less on Royal Ascot and Longchamps.
Admittedly thoughts of fall turf racing are for days way in the future. Yet it’s nice to know that they are out there for us, just in case the promise of April turns out to be another chaos filled May and June for the 3-year-olds.
It may be a secondary thought right now, but even with all of the excitement soon to unfold at Churchill Downs, Pimlico and Belmont Park there’s some satisfaction from the realization that the grass is once again a vibrant shade of green in the U.S.