Photo: Eclipse Sportswire
Great horses only come around every so often in today’s
world. A horse not only brilliant, but a horse that can take on all comers, time
and time again, and not only come through it, but thrive on it. Racing has a
horse capable of this in the form of the fiery chestnut gelding, Wise Dan.
Wise Dan has shown he can run on any surface and be
competitive. He won the Grade 1 Clark Handicap two years ago, at Churchill
Downs, before placing second in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster the next year. He
also is a multiple grade one, and Breeders' Cup winning champion on turf, while
also holding a track record on polytrack. Last year he competed in six graded
stakes, four being grade one, and won five times, his only loss coming by a
After the end of 2012, Wise Dan was rewarded for his
dominance and versatility, being named Horse of the Year, Champion Turf Male,
and Champion Older Male. So far in 2013, the reigning champion hasn’t missed a
beat. He won his first start back, a grade one, before stretching out of his
comfort zone, to take the nine furlong, Grade 1 Woodford Reserve in dominant
His owners elected not to run him back in the Stephen
Foster, after the quick turn between the Makers 46 Mile and Woodford Reserve, and
instead ran his older half-brother. Successful Dan was
dominated by Fort Larned, last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic victor, who in the Foster came less than 1/5th of a second from the track record.
Successful Dan is a good horse, a fast horse, but he was no match for Fort
Last year, over a dirt track, there was no horse more
dominant, more brilliant than Fort Larned. He won the Skip Away, Cornhusker,
Whitney, and Breeders' Cup Classic, while finishing a very good third in the Jockey
Club Gold Cup. This year, he was supposed to dominate the Gulfstream Park
Handicap, and in a sense he did, but without a rider. He came back with a
lackluster fifth in the Oaklawn Handicap, before returning to form in a big,
big way in the Stephen Foster.
Fort Larned now targets a Whitney repeat, and looks to be
heavily favored to do so….that is if Wise Dan does not show up. As of now the
connections of Wise Dan are pointing him towards the grade two Firecracker, and
Successful Dan to the Whitney. This makes no sense. If you want to beat Fort
Larned, why leave your best horse,
your biggest gun in the barn?
Wise Dan is a versatile horse, even though it is well known
that he is a very competitive grade one dirt horse, turf is his better surface.
The Whitney is over dirt, but if Wise Dan is as versatile as they say, and the
champion they believe, the Whitney is where he should go. Not a grade two race
against nobody. The Firecracker is beneath him, while the Whitney offers him a
chance at greatness.
Should he win the Whitney, Wise Dan will only have added
another shining badge to an already glittering reputation. He will have beaten
Fort Larned, on that one’s preferred surface and distance. Should he lose, he
loses nothing in defeat, for he would have lost to an exceptionally brilliant
horse who was in his element, while being taken out of his own.
Wise Dan is in the form of his life, he is a racing machine,
a monster who has been lighting up the track when he works and tearing down the
barn. Let him race in the Whitney, give him the chance to display his greatness
on a new level. Do not chase weaker fields in an attempt to keep his year
perfect. Run him in the Whitney and give him a chance to shine like no other