In one of the most dominating performances of the Breeders’ Cup weekend, Wise Dan won the Breeders’ Cup Mile. Sent off at odds of 9-5, the 5-year-old Wiseman’s Ferry gelding sat relaxed off the rail, just off the blistering pace set by Obviously and Suggestive Boy. Turning for home Wise Dan tipped off the rail, moved into the 2-path and got by the fading Obviously to win by 1 ½ lengths in 1:31.78, a new course record.
After guiding Wise Dan to the rail, Jockey John Velasquez was confident. “I just wanted to get him in the right position. When I was able to do that, and you’ve got a horse as good as this, you can expect a result like this,” he said.
2011 Kentucky Derby winner, Animal Kingdom, under jockey Rafael Bejarano, returned from a 9-month-layoff to finish with a flourish for the place, while encounting some trouble on the final turn.
“They were going so fast early and I was stuck down inside. I had no choice. Then I had to go in and out of horses. When I finally got to ask him, he gave me a huge kick. I only wish I could have asked him earlier. The winner got the jump on me. If it is the other way around, it might have been a different finish,” he said.
Though he did not win, trainer Graham Motion could not have been happier for his Derby winner. “Seconds are very tough and I have some tough second-place beats in the Breeders’ Cup. I’m thrilled with the way he ran. If he doesn’t get steadied at the top of the stretch … I don’t know. What a great run and what a great horse. He’s a special horse,” Motion said.
The short-term plans for Animal Kingdom are undecided, but owner Team Valor International would like to participate in the Dubai World Cup next spring.
Another 1/2 length back, third-place finisher Obviously was courageous in defeat when carving out fractions of 23.34, 46.16 and 108.81. Jockey Joe Talamo said, “We figured to be on the lead and we had an easy lead. 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.”
Though a victory by Wise Dan was no surprise, the dull efforts turned in by Europeans Excelebration and Moonlight Cloud were shocking. Excelebration had only been defeated by Frankel during his career, and was in striking position the whole way, but never responded when given his cue and wound up 4th. Moonlight Cloud was well behind throughout, but could never reel in the field despite the quick early pace.
Excelebration’s jockey, Joseph O’Brien offered a few reasons as to why his mount was lackluster today.
“It has been only 14 days since his last start 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.”
No excuse could be found for Moonlight Cloud’s poor performance.
“It was a bad race. I couldn’t get around the bend,” jockey Thierry Jarnet said.
“She had a rough trip and maybe got a bit discouraged. It’s been a long season, but I’m a bit disappointed. I thought she’d run better than that," trainer Freddie Head said.
With losses by Point of Entry and Game on Dude today, Wise Dan has vaulted himself to the top of many voters’ lists for Horse of the Year.
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