Wise Dan stakes Horse of the Year claim in record-setting Mile
Date Posted: 11/3/2012 11:27:02 PM
Last Updated: 11/7/2012 1:58:04 PM
Morton Fink's homebred Wise Dan stated his case for Horse of the Year by
blitzing an international field in Saturday's $1,818,000
Cup Mile, and put an exclamation point on his victory by speeding in a Santa
Anita course-record 1:31.78 on the firm turf. With jockey John Velazquez
orchestrating an ideal passage throughout, Wise Dan powered past longtime leader
Obviously in midstretch and drew off to extend his winning streak to four.
Animal Kingdom, last year's Kentucky Derby-winning champion, ran a huge, if
unlucky, race in his return from injury. Blocked on the inside for much of the
stretch, the Team Valor International homebred finally burst through to outkick
top European hope Excelebration and finished a barnstorming second. Obviously
held third from the staying-on Excelebration, rounding out an all-American-based
Wise Dan was handing trainer Charles Lopresti sweet compensation for his
heartbreak in last year's Mile, when his Turallure was denied on the head-bob by
64-1 longshot Court Vision at Churchill Downs. There was no such spine-tingling
suspense this time.
"He proved he was the best horse today," Lopresti said. "I never had any
doubts. I was just a little concerned about how the race would shape up. He's
just a special horse."
Bet down to 9-5 favoritism, Wise Dan broke alertly from post 2, and as
expected, deferred to the confirmed front runner Obviously. Wise Dan drafted in
his slipstream through splits of :23 1/5 and :46, and avoided any potential
traffic issues when able to angle out comfortably on the far turn.
Joe Talamo, who guided Obviously to a third-place finish, believed that he
felt a modicum of early pressure.
"We figured to be on the lead and we had an easy lead," Talamo said. "I just
wish that outside horse (Suggestive Boy) hadn't been out there. He just put
pressure on us. I don't know if that cost us the race, but we did feel it. He
stayed on well."
Excelebration fell a nose short of getting to Obviously and settled for
"It has been only 14 days since his last start," Excelebration's rider Joseph
O'Brien said, alluding to his victory in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II at
Ascot, "and this was his first time on a left-handed course. Things were
disorganized in the race, and he took a bit to catch up to it. I'm not sure you
saw his best race."
Next came the local trio of Mr. Commons, Jeranimo and Suggestive Boy, followed by Moonlight Cloud
and Willcox Inn.
Trainer Freddie Head was expecting better from Moonlight Cloud.
"She had a rough trip and maybe got a bit discouraged," Head said. "It's been
a long season, but I'm a bit disappointed. I thought she'd run better than
Wise Dan, who provided payouts of $5.60, $3 and $2.80, improved his scorecard
to 20-13-1-0 and increased his earnings to $3,541,638. Ten of those wins have
now come in stakes.
Unraced as a juvenile, Wise Dan showed ability when winning four of six
starts at three. During that 2010 campaign, he captured his stakes debut in the
Grade 3 Phoenix Stakes at Keeneland and finished a creditable sixth, beaten just
2 1/2 lengths, in the Breeders' Cup Sprint.
Wise Dan proved a triple-surface threat in 2011, winning the Grade 2 Firecracker
Handicap in his turf debut, and adding the Presque Isle Mile on Tapeta, before
romping in the Grade 2 Fayette over Keeneland's Polytrack and adding the Clark
His 2012 debut was scintillating -- a 10 1/2-length conquest of the Grade 3
Ben Ali, in a track-record time of 1:46.63 on the Keeneland Polytrack. Wise Dan
returned to Churchill for the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap on June 16, only
to lose by a head after a tough trip. That is his only loss in his past eight
Wise Dan reverted to turf for the Grade 2 Fourstardave Handicap August 11 at
Saratoga, where he posted a five-length demolition job, and came back to
dominate the September 16 Woodbine Mile by 3 1/4 lengths. Lopresti had the
option of training him up to the Breeders' Cup, but Wise Dan was doing too well
to keep in the barn. He used the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile on October 6 at
Keeneland as a virtual paid
workout, with a 2 1/4-length jaunt.
"I was able to use that race at Keeneland as the perfect setup for today,"
Lopresti said. "I didn't have to do much with him. We'll probably take him back
to our farm in Kentucky and give him some time. We'll make a plan for him at the
first of the year."
The Kentucky-bred is by Wiseman's Ferry and out of the winning Wolf Power
mare Lisa Danielle. He is a half-brother to multiple Grade 2 victor Successful
Dan, who set a new Churchill track record when taking the Grade 2 Alysheba on
May 4. Another half-sibling, stakes winner Our Royal Dancer, is herself the dam
of Argentinean Group 2-placed Bailando Voy.
Lisa Danielle is in turn a half-sister to Grade 1-placed Carsona, who has
produced Grade 2 victor Siphon City. This is the family of German Group
1-winning highweight Scalo, and further back, French champion, classic
winner and noted sire *Val de Loir as well as dual classic heroine and Irish
champion *Valoris II.
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