Derby Day showcases older stars, too, and the two-time defending Horse of the Year, Wise Dan, was the headliner on yesterday's undercard. The 7-year-old gelding was looking to repeat last year's easy victory in the Grade I Woodford Reserve Turf Classic. He won, but barely, causing lots of agita for those who made him the 1-2 favorite.
John Velazquez had to ask Wise Dan for everything as he battled head to head down the stretch with 7-1 shot Seek Again, and the champion prevailed by a head on the outside for his 13th win in 14 grass starts. Wise Dan improved to 21-for-29 on all surfaces for trainer Charles LoPresti. He earned $300,000, raising his career total above $6.7 million for Morton Fink.
In other stakes: Coffee Clique ($13.80) slipped through along the inside in deep stretch to beat 36-1 Dame Marie by half a length in the Grade II Churchill Distaff Turf Mile. Javier Castellano, who is winning with 27 percent of his grass mounts, rode the 4-year-old filly. She was timed in 1:34.66 on a firm course . . . A layoff of almost a year didn't bother Midnight Lucky ($5.20), who led throughout for Rosie Napravnik in a 4½-length runaway in the Grade I Humana Distaff. Bob Baffert trains the 4-year-old filly, who covered 7 furlongs on a fast track in 1:22.23 . . . Gary Stevens rallied Global View ($14) to a neck victory for trainer Tom Proctor in the Grade II American Turf for 3-year-olds. The time for 1 1/16 miles was 1:41.65 . . . Central Banker ($23.60), who had always come from off the pace and often from far back, flashed early speed under Corey Nakatani and held on by a head over Shakin It Up in the Grade II Churchill Downs Sprint. Central Banker went 7 furlongs in 1:21.15, ending a five-race losing streak for trainer Al Stall. It was his first win in five starts at the distance.