Champion thoroughbred Wise Dan continued his quest for a second straight Horse of the Year honor with a second career victory in the $150,000 Firecracker Handicap at Churchill Downs Saturday night.
Trained by Charles LoPresti and ridden by John Velazquez, Wise Dan recorded his second win in the mile turf stakes to become the only horse to win the race twice, having first won two years ago.
The original eight-horse field was reduced to five with three scratches.
Wise Dan was racing along the inside as Seruni and Ol Army set the pace. The 1-5 favorite, Wise Dan moved along the inside around the final turn and squeezed through to take the lead entering the stretch.
The three-time Eclipse Award winner spurted along the inside through the stretch to notch a two-length win over Lea. Seruni finished third followed by Daddy Nose Best and Ol Army. Corporate Jungle, Dimension and Finnegans Wake were scratched.
Wise Dan covered the mile on a yielding turf course in 1:39.82.
Owned by Morton Fink, Wise Dan was making his first start since capturing the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic on Kentucky Derby Day at Churchill eight weeks back. The 6-year-old gelding picked up $90,000 for the hard fought victory, his seventh straight since finishing second in last year's Stephen Foster.
The winner of last year's Breeders' Cup Mile has posted 16 wins in 23 lifetime starts for $4,149,631.
Wise Dan began his 2013 campaign by winning the Maker's 46 Mile turf race on April 12 at Keeneland before taking the Turf Classic on May 4.
Wise Dan paid $2.40 and $2.10, and Lea paid $3.00. There was no show wagering.