As the summer racing season begins this week at Saratoga and Del Mar, reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan is found sitting at the top of the NTRA National Poll closely followed by west coast favorite Game On Dude.
Wise Dan, trained by Charles LoPresti, continues in first-place just two weeks after winning a hard fought Firecracker Handicap at Churchill Downs. The 6-year-old gelding was rewarded in week 20 of the voting with 30 first-place votes and 416 points.
"I'd really like to keep him undefeated," LoPresti said, "and I'd like to win a Grade I on dirt with him this year. If we get a Grade I on dirt with him and then keep him going and get a few wins on the grass and then get to the Breeders' Cup, maybe he'll get Horse of the Year again."
LoPresti is considering four stakes at Saratoga for Morton Fink's champion racehorse. The turf races are the Fourstardave (Aug. 10) and Bernard Baruch (Aug. 31) and the dirt races are the Whitney (Aug. 3) and Woodward (Aug. 31).
Keeping a hold of second is Hollywood Gold Cup winner Game On Dude. Trained by Bob Baffert, the 6-year-old gelding received 13 top votes and 394 points. The Pacific Classic at Del Mar is next for the gelding.
Fort Larned is the only other horse to receive a first-place vote. The 5- year-old, trained by Ian Wilkes, totaled 323 points including the one top vote. Fort Larned is probable to defend last year's win in the Whitney.
Point of Entry (257), Sahara Sky (180), Flat Out (118) and Graydar (106) are the next four in the voting as they were last week.
Shoemaker Memorial winner Obviously jumped past retired Animal Kingdom with 97 points versus 94 for this year's Dubai World Cup champ. Trainer Mike Mitchell has Obviously's main goal "to run back in the Breeders' Cup Mile."
Completing the top 10 is Preakness Stakes winner Oxbow. Trained by D. Wayne Lukas, the 3-year-old colt totaled 69 points. The Hall of Fame trainer will enter Oxbow in the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on Saturday, July 27.