01/19/2013 9:01PM

Eclipse Award winner Wise Dan: Morton Fink’s insight reaps championship dividends


Wiseman's Ferry conformationcourtesy Dana Point FarmWiseman's Ferry

Wise Dan is the product of two smart decisions his owner and breeder Morton Fink made over the last two decades. In 1995, Fink paid $29,000 for a yearling Wolf Power filly that he named Lisa Danielle. Eleven years later, he bred her to another horse he had campaigned in partnership, Hennessy’s graded stakes-winning son Wiseman’s Ferry. The result was Wise Dan, the first Grade 1 winner for both his sire and his dam.

Wiseman’s Ferry showed strong hints of the versatility that Wise Dan also has displayed in winning on a variety of surfaces. A onetime $775,000 weanling, Wiseman’s Ferry began his racing career for Coolmore in Ireland, where he was second to his stablemate—and eventual North American juvenile champion—Johannesburg in the Group 3 Anglesey Stakes. In 2002, trainer Niall O’Callaghan bought the then 3-year-old colt for Fink, Lee Sacks, and Swifty Farms, believing the colt’s good performances on soft turf could translate into successful dirt form. The partners shipped Wiseman’s Ferry to the U.S. The move paid off when he won a Keeneland allowance in the slop by 5 1/2 lengths. Wiseman’s Ferry went on to take the Grade 3 West Virginia Derby and Lone Star Derby, and he finished second behind Magic Weisner in the Ohio Derby.

A front-running type, Wiseman’s Ferry carried his sire’s sprinting speed slightly longer and was at his best between six furlongs and 1 1/8 miles. His dam, the unraced Silver Deputy mare Emmaus, is a half-sister to multiple graded winner Caress, who produced Sky Mesa, and the family also includes champion juvenile filly Outstandingly. A grandson of Storm Cat, Wiseman’s Ferry is bred similarly to Bernstein, a Storm Cat half-brother to Caress.

From seven racing-age crops, Wiseman’s Ferry also has sired 2012 Grade 2 winner Riding the River and such previous stakes winners as Kick On, Listen In, and Fort Drum.

Wiseman’s Ferry launched his stud career in New York and then moved to Kentucky, where Wise Dan was bred. He now stands at Dana Point Farm in Lenhartsville, Penn., for a $5,000 stud fee.

Wise Dan’s dam, Lisa Danielle, looked far less promising on the racetrack. Unraced at 2, she won just one of her seven lifetime starts, a one-mile maiden special weight at Arlington at 3. Her only other on-the-board finish was a third over 1 1/16 miles in a Gulfstream maiden race. But she has outdone herself as a broodmare. Her second foal, the Roy filly Our Royal Dancer, won the 2004 West Long Branch Stakes at Monmouth (and became a stakes-producer herself), but even greater things were to come. In 2006, she produced Successful Dan, a graded winner at 3, 4, and 6. This year, he won the Grade 2 Alysheba Stakes in track-record time, covering Churchill’s 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.04. Lisa Danielle’s next foal was Wise Dan.

Lisa Danielle is one of nine winners from the unraced Secretariat mare Askmysecretary, whose daughters have established good careers as stakes-producers. They include Grade 1-placed Carsona, dam of Grade 2 winner Siphon City and graded-placed Bronx City Girl; Sunup, dam of Panamanian champions Amistad and Volveremos; and, most recently, Mephista, dam of stakes-placed Thisoneforyou.

To date, Lisa Danielle has produced seven winners and three stakes-winners from eight foals to race, and her success with “the Dans” suggests that she has imparted miler tendencies to her sons. Wise Dan has won between 6 furlongs and 1 1/8 miles, and Successful Dan (by Successful Appeal) has been victorious over distances ranging from 6.5 furlongs to 1 1/8 miles.

Wise Dan’s inbreeding reinforces some of the Thoroughbred’s most illustrious sires. He’s inbred 5 x 5 to Northern Dancer and, on his dam’s side only, to Princequillo; 5 x 3 to Secretariat, and 5 x 4 to Round Table.

To read about Wise Dan's Eclipse Award-winning season, click here.