Bolstered by his homebred Wise Dan, dominating winner of the Breeders' Cup Mile on November 3, Morton Fink has won the second annual John Deere Award as outstanding breeder of the 2012 Breeders' Cup Challenge Series and the Breeders' Cup World Championships.
The John Deere Award, presented by Breeders' Cup Limited and NTRA Advantage, emphasizes the contributions of breeders to the Breeders' Cup program. The industry's breeders fund the purses for the World Championships through annual nominations of foals and stallions.
The John Deere Award winner goes to the breeder who received the highest number of points based upon graded/group first-place finishes in the 73 Breeders' Cup Challenge races and the 15 Breeders' Cup World Championships races held this year.
Fink earned 30 points, finishing four points ahead of Palides Investments NV Inc., breeders of Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic winner Royal Delta, and Stonehaven Steadings, who bred Shanghai Bobby, winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.
In addition to his Breeders' Cup triumph, the chestnut five-year-old gelding Wise Dan, trained by Charles Lopresti, captured two Breeders' Cup Challenges races -- the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile on September 16 at Woodbine and the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland on October 6 -- before taking $2 million Breeders' Cup Mile on turf at Santa Anita Park in course record time of 1:31.78 at the World Championships.
Bred in Kentucky, Wise Dan is by Wiseman's Ferry out of Lisa Danielle. Fink named the Wolf Power broodmare after his granddaughter Lisa Danielle Marcus.
NTRA Advantage and John Deere will award Fink a John Deere TS Gator Utility Vehicle.
"I'm very proud to win this award. I've been in the business for more than 40 years and it's a major miracle when you breed and race a horse like Wise Dan," said Fink, who lives in Northbrook, Illinois. "I bought Lisa Danielle for $29,000 and she won all of one race in her career. Wiseman's Ferry's stud fee was $1000, so there are no words to describe when something like this happens. With a few distractions, everything has worked out perfectly."
Fink said he would give the Gator to Lopresti for him to use on his Kentucky farm.
"When Charlie told me early on that Wise Dan was a special horse, I didn't believe him, but Charlie knows a horse like a father knows a son," said Fink, who said that he expects Wise Dan to return to the races in the spring of next year.
"We congratulate Morton Fink on his outstanding homebred, Wise Dan, in winning the John Deere Award," said Heather Higgins, Breeders' Cup vice president of corporate partnerships. "John Deere continues to be an outstanding Breeders' Cup partner and its expanded role with NTRA Advantage emphasizes the essential importance of our breeders to the Breeders' Cup program."
"The John Deere Award highlights the hard work and dedication of those participating in the Breeders' Cup program," said Dwight Ange, John Deere corporate account manager. "John Deere is proud to recognize the efforts of Morton Fink and applaud the performance of Wise Dan in the Breeders' Cup."
Palides Investments earned second place in the competition from the victories by the four-year-old Kentucky-bred filly Royal Delta in the Ladies' Classic, Grade 1 Beldame Stakes and Grade 2 Delaware Handicap. Royal Delta, owned by Besilu Stakes and trained by Bill Mott, is by Empire Maker.
For Stonehaven Steadings, Shanghai Bobby earned 26 points for his win in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and two Breeders' Cup Challenge victories in the Grade 2 Hopeful Stakes and Grade 1 Champagne Stakes. Shanghai Bobby, a two-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Harlan's Holiday, is owned by Starlight Racing, Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith, and trained by Todd Pletcher.
Last year, Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey won the inaugural John Deere Award.