10/08/2014 9:32AM

Jerardi: Wise Dan's consistency, longevity make him a legend

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Keeneland/Coady Photography
Wise Dan’s career is a tribute to owner-breeder Morton Fink and trainer Charlie LoPresti.

After Wise Dan won his 14th consecutive grass race last Saturday at Keeneland, Charlie LoPresti was wondering why even all that winning wasn’t enough. The answer, sadly, is that it is 2014, when even our heroes – especially our heroes – are scrutinized for their perceived flaws rather than appreciated for their sustained excellence.

Wise Dan is a legitimate horse-racing hero on his way to legend. Consider that if last year’s Shadwell Turf Mile had not come off the grass and Wise Dan had not had a difficult trip in the 2012 Stephen Foster Handicap, the two-time Horse of the Year almost certainly would be off to try to win the Breeders’ Cup Mile for the third consecutive year on a 19-race winning streak.

I see no flaws in Wise Dan. He is a very capable horse on dirt, a really good horse on synthetic, and one of the greatest grass horses in the history of horse racing. That is American racing, European racing, Australian racing, any country’s racing.

In the 21st century, what are the most elusive attributes for horses at any level of the sport? They are obviously consistency and longevity.

What separates Wise Dan from every other horse of this generation? Consistency and longevity.

The 7-year-old by Pennsylvania stallion Wiseman’s Ferry always fires. He saved my last two Breeders’ Cups because I was not only certain he would win the Mile, I knew he would inhale any speed horses, so I could look for closers to be second in the exacta.

Wise Dan has been brilliantly managed. When your horse is always the odds-on favorite, you are placing him in the races where he has the best chance to win.

Would it be fun to see Wise Dan run in the Breeders’ Cup Classic? Sure. But why would they run in a race where they wouldn’t be favored and where the horse would be well out of his comfort zone? They wouldn’t, and they won’t.

I never hesitated in voting for Wise Dan as Horse of the Year in 2012 and 2013. Wise Dan is vulnerable this year, just as he has been vulnerable the last two years. Wise Dan won his Breeders’ Cup race, but if Game On Dude had won the Classic either year, he would have been Horse of the Year. It did not happen.

After Wise Dan wins the Mile this year (anybody think he isn’t winning?), he will again be vulnerable. If California Chrome or Shared Belief wins the Classic, that horse is the 2014 Horse of the Year. And one could certainly make a case for a Classic-winning Tonalist as well. And none of that is a knock on Wise Dan. It is just American racing reality.

Wise Dan would finish off another perfect year, with four Grade 1 wins and another Mile. I don’t think that would be enough to beat a horse (California Chrome) who won the San Felipe, Santa Anita Derby, Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Classic. Or a horse (Shared Belief) who won the Pacific Classic, Awesome Again, and Classic while remaining unbeaten in his career. Or even a Peter Pan, Belmont, Jockey Club Gold Cup, and Classic winner (Tonalist).

The “but” is that one of those horses probably has to win the Classic or, in California Chrome’s case, running a heroic second to an unlikely winner could get a horse with his overall résumé serious consideration.

Horse of the Year could be a fascinating discussion after Nov. 1. Today, I think we should all pause and be thankful we have been able to witness a horse who never bounces and overcomes ground he does not like, trips that compromise his best chance, and even colic surgery.

Really, what were you thinking when Wise Dan’s head was turned at the break Saturday? You were thinking that a horse coming off surgery and a life-and-death win in his comeback race probably would have too much to overcome, having to pass every horse in the race. And yet that was Wise Dan lengthening his stride in the final 100 yards and rolling by the field.

Wise Dan’s career is a tribute to owner-breeder Morton Fink and trainer LoPresti. They have a magical horse and have given him every opportunity to produce magic.

And Saturday’s race was yet another example of why John Velazquez is among the best big-race riders of the 2000s. Johnny V. always has a backup plan. He never panics. And even when nothing seems to be going right, he finds a way to make it right in the end, just like Wise Dan.

Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
What separates Wise Dan from every other horse of this generation? Consistency and longevity. I think Cirrus Des Angles has something to say about that...
Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
Des Aigles...
riddick More than 1 year ago
yes a good point. "never bounces" I would not mind singling him again for the 3rd straight year in my Pick3/4. The impressive thing for me was he did not get tired. I ran track and cross country in college. When one takes a couple weeks off , you lose some of your power and tire.
Frederick Jones More than 1 year ago
What will be exciting is to see if he can stay healthy and competitive to make it to next year's Breeders Cup on his home track. That will be worth the $$ to see in person
william More than 1 year ago
"one of the greatest grass horses in the history of horse racing. That is American racing, European racing, Australian racing, any country’s racing." have you ever been outside of the US?
John Murray More than 1 year ago
legitimate question in response to over the top sensationalist comment, WD may be one of the greatest however Euro's have been racing and breeding great turf horses for many, many decades. US turf stars are few and far between.
Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
Brigidier Gerard, Miesque, Frankel, Dubai Millennium, Kris and Soviet Star who beat Miesque on a couple of occasions.....so many Brilliant Brilliant horses at a mile. Wise Dan belongs in that conversation, but I won't rank him above those.
Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
Goldikova also.
tommy More than 1 year ago
Wise dan is the horse of the century and possibly the universe. I have been blessed to watch such an amazing horse in my life time. This horse will go to the point in earnings of he races one more year and wins this years breeders cup. Wise dan is better than secretariat in that he beat and currently holds the world record for 1 and 1/8 miles along with shorter distant records and made far more earnings than secretariat and won more races than any other horse. I'm going all in with wise dan in breeders cup, win or lose I will be a winner because I am watching such an amazing hose in history with all the adrenaline rush.
david More than 1 year ago
Hard to compare and really not worth comparing (does anything really compare to Secretariat's Belmont? - 1:09 6f, 2:24). Both extraordinary extraordinary horses. Frankly, Zenyatta was another in my humble opinion. I'm on the verge of turning 50 and I did not see Secretariat in person, only TV, but I've been to the BC since 2007, except '12, and I'm pretty certain Secretariat would get me as pumped to see as the aforementioned has been if not more (probably more).
ENAMMELD More than 1 year ago
By your comment your knowledge of horse racing is nil. I would delete that just in case anyone knows who you really are.
Diana Levy More than 1 year ago
Wise Dan is the only horse who has the "right stuff" to fill Cigar's now empty stall in the KY Horse Park.....eventually
mike More than 1 year ago
Tell you something Diana,WD is one of a kind,but NO ONE will ever fill Cigar's stall.
Gary Peacock More than 1 year ago
Wise Jerardi. This piece is more like it. He is what he is, you duds. And great at it! We praise "specialties" in all human sports. Get real.
papajoe el papi More than 1 year ago
a legend? are you kidding me just because he's a good miler makes him a legend beating who ? this mediocre bunch of horses that we have here a mean c'mon big your head is getting to big for you.A legend you can call a horse like Secretariat a legend or War Admiral Affirmed those are legends Charlie mean don't get me wrong he's good that's all he is maybe to the young people or the ones who getting into racing they might consider him a legend but what do a know am a hick from Brooklyn.
Perl More than 1 year ago
You're living in the past old man. It's a different era. Those horses were great and so is this gelding.
Jamie Murphy More than 1 year ago
and u probably think jeter is a legend lol
John Jp More than 1 year ago
Could not agree more
mike More than 1 year ago
Well,New Yorkers always find fault in everything,it's the whining nature.
Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
I tried to read that comment... I really did.
Héctor Lebrón More than 1 year ago
I see flaws. He's strictly a one dimensional turf miler, otherwise why hasn't he been raced in the 1 1/4m Turf Classic or the BC Classic? John Henry and Kelso were truly great horses. JH raced and won from 4F to 1 3/4m on grass AND dirt. Kelso won from 6f to TWO miles again on both grass AND dirt!
Perl More than 1 year ago
Yes because every year we see horses with ten Grade One grass wins and even a g1 on the dirt too.
Diana Levy More than 1 year ago
He actually started his career as a dirt sprinter, and quite a nice one at that, winning the Phoenix. He's won the GR1 Clark at 1 1/8 on dirt and set a track record for 1 1/8 miles on AWS. Hardly the resume of a one dimensional turf miler
mike More than 1 year ago
You're ALWAYS hating on WD. You don't have a clue,if you don't know a tour de force when you see one. Always a few bitter one's,guess you bet your rent money against him and he burned you.
Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
He has won the Woodford two years in a row going 9 panels.
Pagani Zonda More than 1 year ago
Your Avatar expresses how I feel about most of your comment. John was a legend and can't argue with that part.
Jaime Dubyna More than 1 year ago
I think one people forget to mention about him is that he wins at ALL tracks, he's not a Belmont only horse (like Tonalist, for example), or a California track horse. He wins at every track he runs at.
Héctor Lebrón More than 1 year ago
Yeah, but NOT at ALL distances AND surfaces vs Gr 1 competion. Would love to see him try either the Classic or at the very least: the Turf Classic!
Diana Levy More than 1 year ago
In past eras they were given the opportunity because there were fewer big money speciality races so the best had to be given the chance to be more versatile. You just can't compare horses for 40+ years ago to today.
Jaime Dubyna More than 1 year ago
Would you ask O'Neill to race Goldencents in the Classic? Curious.