A wide post draw in a large field is less than ideal, but when 14 horses assemble for Saturday’s $250,000 Wise Dan Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs, my money will be on #12 Admission Office.
This lightly raced 4-year-old son of Point of Entry has never missed the exacta in six starts, and he’s shown particular promise this year. In his 2019 debut—his first run for current trainer Brian Lynch—Admission Office settled mid-pack in a one-mile allowance race at Keeneland, then unleashed a powerful finish (he ran the final quarter-mile in :22.77 per Trakus) to win by a neck.
Admission Office was even more impressive to finish second in the 1 1/16-mile Dixie Stakes (G2) at Pimlico last month. Reserved near the back of the pack after he was squeezed out of position shortly after the start, Admission Office had to thread his way through the pack down the homestretch, but gained 4 1/2 lengths in the final furlong to fall a half-length short of catching the two-time grade 1 winner Catholic Boy.
Admission Office earned a massive 111 Brisnet Late Pace Rating in the Dixie, and a repeat of that powerful finish will make him tough to beat in the Wise Dan. There should be enough pace in the large field to set up his late rally, and maybe a wide draw isn’t the worst thing in a field of this size. If jockey Joel Rosario is able to keep Admission Office in the clear, I expect this up-and-coming colt to lengthen his stride down the lane and swoop to victory.
The horse Admission Office will likely have to run down is #6 Siem Riep, whose two victories over the last year have both come over the Churchill Downs turf course. In the May 2 Opening Verse Stakes going a mile, Siem Riep carved out a steady pace and finished fast down the lane (he ran the final quarter in :23.89) to prevail by a comfortable 1 1/2 lengths. He should be dangerous on the front end.
#11 March to the Arch, fifth behind leading Horse of the Year candidate Bricks and Mortar in the Old Forester Turf Classic (G1) last month, could be poised for an improved performance in the Wise Dan. March to the Arch’s record suggests he doesn’t thrive on wet courses like the one he encountered in the Turf Classic, so with dry weather in the forecast, he should be good to go on Saturday. Two starts back March to the Arch was an easy, 3 1/2-length winner of the Touch Vodka Turf Classic over a firm turf course at Tampa Bay Downs.
In anticipation that Admission Office’s odds will be a bit short on the win end, I’ll play him primarily in the trifecta, while emphasizing Siem Riep and March to the Arch underneath. I’ll also play a saver exacta with Siem Riep and March to the Arch on top.
$0.50 trifecta: 12 with 6,11 with ALL ($12)
$0.50 trifecta: 12 with ALL with 6,11 ($12)
$3 exacta: 6,11 with 12 ($6)