09/13/2012 04:48 EDT | Updated 11/13/2012 05:12 EST

Wise Dan looks to earn trainer Lopresti second straight Woodbine Mile win

TORONTO - Wise Dan is the horse to beat heading into the Grade 1 $1-million Ricoh Woodbine Mile.

The five-year-old gelding was installed as the early 6-5 favourite for the race, which will be held Sunday at Woodbine Racetrack. Wise Dan comes in fresh from a five-length win in the Grade 2 Fourstardave at Saratoga over one mile on a yielding turf Aug. 11.

Wise Dan drew post No. 3 in the nine-horse race, which isn't a concern for trainer Charles Lopresti, who conditioned last year's winner Turallure.

"It (post 3) is OK by me," said Lopresti. "He just won from the one-hole at Saratoga.

"If it was a great big field I might worry about it. I'm glad we didn't get the one-hole and I wouldn't want to be all the way on the outside either. I'm happy with it.''

Two-time race winner John Velazquez — with Riviera in 2000 and Leroidesanimaux in 2005 — will ride Wise Dan, who has won stakes races on dirt, turf and Polytrack for career earnings surpassing $1.4 million. The winner of Sunday's race will receive $600,000.

For the fifth straight year, the race winner will also be offered an all-expenses paid berth into the Breeders' Cup Mile, which will be run Nov. 3 at Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif.

Post positions for Sunday's race were drawn Thursday at Woodbine with Olympic champion trampolinist Rosie MacLennan serving as the guest drawmaster.

Three European horses — Cityscape, Dance And Dance and Worthadd — are expected to present stiff challenges to Wise Dan.

Cityscape, a six-year-old British horse that will start from post No. 7, captured the Group 1 $5-million 1 1/8-mile Dubai Duty Free on March 31. Mostly recently, Cityscape was second to Excelebration in the Group 1 Prix Jacques le Marois, a one-mile race held Aug. 12 in Deauville, France.

"He shipped really good," said assistant trainer John Da Costa. "We know Wise Dan is a wonderful horse.

"We really respect him. It's going to be a tough race. But our fellow is good right now."

Dan Vella, the trainer of Queen's Plate champion Strait of Dover, will saddle Big Band Sound, a 6-1 early pick that will start from post No. 5 on Sunday. Big Band Sound was an impressive 2 1/2-length winner in the seven-furlong Play the King Stakes, a key prep race for the Mile that was held Aug. 26 at Woodbine.

The five-year-old son of Bernstein has been very consistent this year, winning twice and finishing second four times in seven starts. He'll be ridden by Tyler Pizarro.

The field for Sunday's race, with post positions, horse, jockey and odds, includes: 1. Riding the River, Patrick Husbands, 10-1; 2. Dance And Dance, Garrett Gomez, 12-1; 3. Wise Dan, John Velazquez, 6-5; 4. Artic Fern, Justin Stein, 20-1; 5. Big Band Sound, Tyler Pizarro, 6-1; 6. Hunters Bay, Emma-Jayne Wilson, 15-1; 7. Cityscape, James Doyle, 5-2; 8. Hollinger, Alex Solis, 20-1; and 9. Worthadd, Luis Contreras, 8-1.

Hall of Fame trainer Roger Attfield has won a record-tying eight Queen's Plates but has yet to win the Mile. He will send out Hollinger again after an eighth-place finish last year.

Hollinger was Canada's champion two-year-old male in 2009 when he was undefeated in four starts.

Only three favourites have won the Woodbine Mile in its first 15 editions: Soaring Free in 2004, Leroidesanimaux in 2005 and Shakespeare in 2007.

Also on Sunday's card are the $500,000 Northern Dancer Stakes and $300,000 Canadian Stakes.