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Breeders' Cup Mile: Wise Dan sets course record; in Horse of the Year picture
By Marcus Hersh
ARCADIA, Calif. – Using sentiment as a guiding beacon is not a tactic that typically produces favorable results. Morton Fink is a businessman, down to earth, totally realistic. But a choice Fink made from the heart, to keep, rather than sell, the mare Lisa Danielle, strictly because she was named after his granddaughter, has landed him the horse of a lifetime, Wise Dan.
Lisa Danielle’s foal of 2007 was Fink’s second starter in a Breeders’ Cup race, and Wise Dan capped a remarkable 2012 season and became a prime candidate for Horse of the Year with a powerful win in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. Wise Dan, under a perfect ride from John Velazquez, beat fast-closing Animal Kingdom by 1 1/2 lengths in the $2 million Mile. On a firm, fast-playing turf course, he ran a mile in 1:31.78, besting the track record of 1:31.89 set by Atticus in 1989 while carrying nine pounds more.
Among Wise Dan’s victims were fourth-place Excelebration and eighth-place Moonlight Cloud, the two best milers in Europe. With Frankel retired, Wise Dan is the best grass miler in the world at the moment.
“He’s just a super horse,” said trainer Charlie Lopresti, who has masterfully guided Wise Dan through a 13-win career and who was winning his first Breeders’ Cup race. “Every time I work him or do something with him, he amazes me.”
Wise Dan’s first trip to California was delayed by one day by Superstorm Sandy, but he came here Wednesday afternoon without incident and trained with aplomb the next two days. In the paddock and saddling ring before the Mile, Wise Dan looked gorgeous, relaxed, and poised, and he went out and ran to his looks.
Breaking on top from post 2, Velazquez took a light hold and waited for Obviously to come up and take the lead, which he soon did. Obviously and jockey Joe Talamo set a comfortable pace, going an opening quarter-mile in 23.34 seconds and a half in 46.16, with longshot Suggestive Boy ranging up to apply token pressure. Lopresti and Velazquez spoke all week of wanting Wise Dan to be covered up behind horses, and that is where Velazquez put his mount, with Wise Dan hugging the rail in third, awaiting his cue to run. That moment came just after Obviously cut the corner and kicked for home. Wise Dan quickly attacked.
“As soon as he sees daylight, he just goes,” Fink said.
Wise Dan collared Obviously about a furlong from the finish and never relented, winging past the wire while running his final quarter-mile in less than 23 seconds.
“Once we got loose, he was there for me,” Velazquez said. “All I wanted to do was make sure I got him in a good position.”
Behind Wise Dan, things went less smoothly for 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom, who was hung up in traffic at the top of the stretch. Once clear, he finished with a furious rally, beating Obviously for second by a half-length while making inroads on Wise Dan.
“I just wish he hadn’t gotten stopped,” said trainer Graham Motion, who did great work bringing Animal Kingdom back from the long break.
Excelebration was nosed for third by Obviously, failing to run back to his brilliant win two weeks ago in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot. Trainer Aidan O’Brien theorized the short turnaround might have dulled Excelebration; his rider, Joseph O’Brien, said Santa Anita’s tight left-handed turns threw Excelebration off.
“Everything was happening so fast for him,” the younger O’Brien said.
Mr. Commons was fifth, followed by Jeranimo, Suggestive Boy, Moonlight Cloud, and Willcox Inn. A forlorn trainer Freddie Head, who has won the Mile five times as a trainer and jockey, said Moonlight Cloud lost all chance when pushed out on the first turn.
Fink, a Chicagoan, is 82, and his celebrations are of the muted type. He has been in the horse business for more than 40 years. The mare Lisa Danielle cost Fink only $29,000. She’s the last of what once was a much larger group of broodmares that Fink kept. The idea that these circumstances would lead to a horse like Wise Dan has long amused him. Fink always emphasizes the great role played by luck.
“You can do everything right, and you get a bad trip and you’re done,” Fink said.
Wise Dan got the trip Saturday. Fink had the right horse.
Wise Dan certainly is horse that looked much the best winning that Mile Turf!! New track record of 1:31.3 which is a 15 year old track record. Nice ride by John Velazquez who’s best rider of our Generation and great training job all season by Charles Lopresti. Nice run by the layoff runner Animal Kingdom who finished a nice 2nd. Nice run too by pacesetter Obviously who I thought would hang in but both Wise Dan and Animal Kingdom are better than him but he beat the Euros though. The euros were disappointing of both Moonlight Cloud and Excelebration. I think that Though he’s not a lock for the Turf divison because he has to contend with the Turf winner who had just a good of campaign as he did.
I don't believe that when John Gaines, John Nerud & company conceived the idea of the Breeders' Cup that this was the type of reaction they expect from the citizens of the host nation. As someone who has been involved with the sport on both sides of the pond I find some of the statement laughable. The comment directly below is typical of what I'm referring to.
the europeans think they have dominate horses compared to americans. the americans spanked the euros once again. there were 4 breeders cup horses who already lost to frankel. those 4 horses were soundly beaten by the weaker american horses. frankel's competition was very weak. just think, the american horses have been using drugs since 1990 and ruining their breed. but, the europeans who dont use drugs are still getting soundly beaten by the drug dependent american horses. this just proves that european and frankel fans are all just as smart as mutten chops.
You don't understand "throughbred racing". I will explain this to you now. Horses who are not gelded (wise dan is gelded) are worth millions of pounds at stud. So the connections protect there assests (unlike coolmore). Frankel was special, but they took there time with him. He was the "real deal" and therefore his stud value had to be protected, he won every single race more emphatically than the one before. But he wasn't ever put in a race that would jeopordise his stud value. Cecil and Juddemonte were happy for any horse to challange him on his turf, but he wouldn't go looking for trouble, which kind of makes sense when your talking about millions of pounds. Just imagine having a million pounds, you wouldn't gamble it away? or would you? some connections take them risks? the best don't. He was never scratched, even when the conditions were boggy. But he was never gambled with. Perosnally, if the champions stakes hadn't been at the similar time as the ARC, then he may have gone to the ARC as a 4yo. The Breeders cup, comes too soon as well, its a shame all the races come to soon. Im sure if Frankel could talk, he would love to run every race. However, his connections have not only got the highest rated horse in the world but now the most expensive stud fee's as well. You can not please every one son, but mark my word; you YANKS will be buying his sperm.
Great performance by the americans at the breeders cup. Don't slate the Brits to much tho - we didn't have any winners in Britain this year at any of there meetings, They had two at the breeders festival and the arlington. Infact, we don't win any big races in Europe. SO lets enjoy the performances such as Wise Dan's!! Wise Dan would be the only horse to get within 5 lengths of Frankel. Through the form Frankel has beaten alsmost 100 group 1 winners, which makes he formidable. He also beat Excellebration by 9 lengths being eased close home. Don't mistake a freak like Frankel with good horses.
"Excelebration was nosed for third by Obviously, failing to run back to his brilliant win two weeks ago in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot. Trainer Aidan O’Brien theorized the short turnaround might have dulled Excelebration; his rider, Joseph O’Brien, said Santa Anita’s tight left-handed turns threw Excelebration off." Aidan O'Brien is the D. Wayne-Bob B-Todd Pletcher of Europe. With all of the horses Coolmore gives him there's bound to be a star or two every year. It now time to end the race-riding career of young Joseph. Imagine how his schoolmates would/may have laughed at him when he told them that one day he would win a Derby. Well Joseph won 2 Derbies (English & Irish), and a 2000 Guineas, courtesy of Camelot, as well as last year's BC Turf on St. Nick. It's now time for him either to become his father's assistant, or go back to school. Notice the only winner A O'B had was ridden by Ryan Moore, and didn't he win in style?!!
"Among Wise Dan’s victims were fourth-place Excelebration and eighth-place Moonlight Cloud, the two best milers in Europe." How does the writer come to this conclusion based on a solitary win at 1 mile by MC by a head over Farhh? And what does MC's BC mile performance now say about the Australian wonder mare? A lot of people obviously drank Freddie Head's Kool-Aid.
Wise Dan has become a great racehorse at age 5, which is the age that thoroughbreds reach their peak. Unfortunately these days the good ones aren't kept in train'g long enough for us to see it. As a gelding, barring injury, Dan should come back next year and continue his winning ways. I wonder though about those of you who now proclaim him the HOY. How the rules have changed! Since the Juddmonte Intn'l we've debated the merit of the winner of that race. For those of you who were against that horse, one of the criteria for voting against him was that he'd never run at Europe's classic distance of 1.5 miles. Yet the same people are now stumping for a US HOY candidate who has never won at the American classic distance of 1.25 miles, and who ducked the opportunity to win a race worth 2 1/2 times the value of this one.
Marcus Hersh.... I agree with your opinion below that Frankel could not have beaten Wise Dan by more than a close photo in this race. I would also like to say to those that think a Euro horses worth should be judged by his performance in a Breeders Cup race then in all fairness the Breeders Cup turf races should be run in Europe in alternate years. Lets see how many American owners and trainers want to send their best horses to run against the Euros when giving the Euro horses and jockeys home court advantage.
Hard, fast, dry California track....what better place to set a new course record?