LOVE LETTER TO FANS OF WISE DAN!
Not everyone's choice for triple Eclipse honors, including 2012 Horse of the Year (including this writer's), I have to confess after researching for this piece that I have gained a new appreciation and a new respect for the gelded son of Wiseman's Ferry! I am glad he won, and more than that, I am appreciative of the fact that we will get to see more of this Champion in 2013! GO, WISE DAN!!
Wise Dan's first nine starts of his career did little to predict his rise to stardom and receiving highest Eclipse honors two and a half years later. Making his debut February 26, 2010, at Turfway Park, he did no better than fifth, graduating a month later at the same track. Out of 9 starts from his first in February 2010 to June 2011, he won 4 and lost 5. Among his wins was a Grade 3 at Keeneland, but in his losses he could finish no better than 4th. In what was his second real test against Grade 1 company -- the first being the 2010 Breeders Cup Sprint in which he could do no better than 6th -- the Grade 3 Alysheba at Churchill Downs May 6, 2011, he finished next to last in a field of nine.
That was to be the last time Wise Dan finished worse than 4th. In fact, over the next 18 months, beginning in July 2011, he started 11 times, losing only two.
On July 4, 2011, he won the Grade 2 Firecracker by 2 3/4 lengths, followed by the Presque Isle Mile in September, winning by half a length. Next came the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf at Keeneland in October 2011 in which 1 1/2 lengths plus a neck separated him from winning against the likes of Gio Ponti, Get Stormy and Sidney's Candy, with Wise Dan coming in at 4th, just a neck behind Sidney's Candy.
He would finish out 2011 with the Grade 2 Fayette Stakes at Keeneland, and the Grade 1 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs. In the Fayette, in a field of ten which included Mission Impazible, he won going away by 4. Then his 2011 finale was the Clark, in which he blew the doors off again, winning ahead of Mission Impazible by 3 3/4 lengths, and ahead of Flat Out by 6 1/2 lengths!
Wise Dan began his Eclipse award winning year of 2012 by continuing his winning ways with the G3 Ben Ali, winning in a romp by 10 1/2 lengths. In the Grade 1 Stephen Foster in June 2012, in which he had a very rough trip, saw him finish just a head behind the winner, Ron The Greek.
In August, he reasserted his bid for more stardom with a romp in the Fourstardave, winning by 5. He next traveled to try his hand at the Woodbine Mile in September, finishing 3 1/4 lengths ahead of second place finisher, Hunters Bay and 4 1/4 ahead of the international Grade 1 winner, Cityscape (GB). Finally, in October, he traveled to Keeneland for the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile where he finished 2 1/4 lengths ahead of Wilcox Inn and a total of 5 lengths in front of the third place finisher.
Saving the best for last, Wise Dan finished out the year in the Breeders Cup Mile, where he met a field full of graded stakes winners which included international shippers Excelebration and Moonlight Cloud, along with U.S. stars Animal Kingdom, Mr. Commons, and Jeranimo. By finishing 1 1/2 lengths in front of Animal Kingdom, and by setting a new track record in the process, Wise Dan stamped himself among the very best the sport has to offer.
All told, his career includes winning at 7 different tracks over three different surfaces, at distances of 1 mile to 1 1/8 miles. Overall, from July 2011 through the end of 2012, less than two lengths prevented Wise Dan from having 11 straight wins over 18 months, at 7 tracks, over three different surfaces! Not a shabby record for this Morton Fink homebred gelded son of Wiseman's Ferry, and great grandson of Storm Cat on his sire's side, and great-grandson of Secretariat on his dam's side. Also, four back on his dam's side is the great Round Table, HOY of 1958 and Turf champion three years. Wise Dan has more than proved himself worthy of being in such classy company!
Horse of the Year: WISE DAN!
Jay Hovdey profiles Wise Dan, excerpt: "Better known as the pride and joy of owner and breeder Morton Fink, Wise Dan ended his 2011 season as a 4-year-old with easy wins in the Fayette Handicap at Keeneland and the Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs. They were impressive enough, but the big guns were colliding at the Breeders’ Cup, and neither the Fayette nor the Clark drew the cream of the older crop. If Wise Dan was as good as his winning margins, he would need to prove it the following year.
"So he did. In race after race, Wise Dan’s presence on the American racing landscape grew. He stunned the speed figure gang with a 10 1/2-length win in the Ben Ali Handicap at Keeneland. He earned universal praise for his stubborn second to Ron the Greek in the Stephen Foster, while getting into trouble and giving weight. He hit all the right notes in front of America’s most discerning audience while winning the Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga. Then it was “Oh, Canada” in winning the Woodbine Mile in Ontario against a solid international field." Read more at source
Links for more on Wise Dan's remarkable career
DRF Jay Privman covers Wise Dan's Eclipse trifecta
DRF's Glenye Cain Oakford looks at Wise Dan's pedigree
DRF's Jay Hovdey on Wise Dan's bid for Eclipse honors
BloodHorse Wise Dan slideshow
Equibase Wise Dan's career
VIDEO REPLAYS - KEY RACES
Breeders' Cup Mile G1 - 2012 - 11-3-2012
Breeders' Cup Mile 11-3-2012 - Race Replay
Chart: Equibase race chart - Breeders' Cup Mile 2012
Shadwell Turf Mile G1 - 10-6-12 - Keeneland
Ricoh Woodbine Mile G1 - 9-16-12
Fourstardave G2 Saratoga 8-11-12
Stephen Foster H. G1 - Churchill Downs - 6-16-12
Ben Ali G3 - Keeneland - 4-22-12
Race replay - Trakus
Clark Handicap 2011 - G1 - Churchill Downs 11-25-11
Race replay (BloodHorse)
Firecracker Handicap - G2 - Churchill Downs - 7-4-11
Race replay (BloodHorse)