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HRN Original Blog:
Past the Grandstand

Wise Dan Prepares for Breeders' Cup Mile Defense

Wise Dan Terri 615 X 400
Photo: Terri Cage

Wise Dan stood in his stall serenely, one leg cocked as he struggled to keep his eyes open. The window at the back of his stall cast a beam of sunlight over his back, offering him warmth in the brisk air of the morning. Those outside his stall spoke of him in admiration and respect, but he paid no attention to these mere humans. They could look at him in awe all they wanted; he was used to it.


“You can’t bother him,” trainer Charlie LoPresti commented. “He’s about as laid-back as can be.”


An hour later, a crowd of photographers and reporters stood outside the barn in which he was stabled. Suddenly, the 2012 Horse of the Year emerged, the sunlight glinting off his copper coat. After walking a few ovals around a dirt path outside the barn, LoPresti gave a leg up to Damien Rock, the regular exercise rider of the 6-year-old gelded son of Wiseman’s Ferry.


An entourage of press followed behind Wise Dan as the horse made his way from Barn 36 to the track, where a large crowd gathered along the rail from the gap to the finish line to catch a glimpse of the reigning Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. I) victor. LoPresti kept a watchful eye on his charge as he and Wise Dan parted ways, the chestnut traveling onto the track as LoPresti sought a spot in the grandstand.


Moving alongside a pony horse before the expansive grandstand of Santa Anita Park, Wise Dan entered the turf course near the finish line, where he stood for several minutes as a large group of photographers pointed their cameras in his direction.


“He likes to stand,” LoPresti stated as he gazed at his trainee from the grandstand. “We don’t rush him.”


But with a chuckle, he added, “They sure are taking their sweet time, aren’t they?”


Before long, Wise Dan broke into a gallop, traveling far off the inside rail as he took to the track with his powerful strides. Remaining relaxed, the chestnut made a lap around the turf course, doing so in the manner of a two-minute lick. It was clear as he passed the grandstand that he required a good amount of restraint from Rock, galloping easily over the grass. Finishing up his lap, Wise Dan galloped right past the outriders waiting for him, making it to the backstretch before Rock eased him into a slower gait.


“He didn’t want to pull up!” Rock said with a smile as he rode Wise Dan back to the barn.


LoPresti was rather pleased with Wise Dan’s morning outing at Santa Anita, which was his first of 2013 since he arrived at the Arcadia, California racetrack on the evening of Tuesday, October 29.


“I think he did pretty well,” the trainer stated. “I was really happy with it.”


Wise Dan cooled out outside the barn beneath the California sunshine to the clicking of cameras, stopping frequently to pose. A horse with a commanding presence, Wise Dan exuded confidence, walking along with easy strides as if he was on a walk in the park. That afternoon, he joined a contingent of other Breeders’ Cup horses as he schooled in the paddock for the first race of Santa Anita’s Thursday card, appearing composed and content in the paddock. But as he left the ring to head back the barn, he tossed his head and pranced before onlookers, displaying the spirit of a champion primed for victory.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
Wise Dan rests in his stall before hitting the track
Photo by Terri Cage 

 

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I'll be on tomorrow in another Breeders Cup!

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About Mary Cage

 


Mary Cage, a 20-year-old avid fan of horse racing, has been around horses all her life, having owned, shown, and judged them for as long as she can remember. She began writing her own horse racing blog, Past the Grandstand, in August 2011 and has since been published in America's Horse, American Racehorse and the Appaloosa Journal, as well as with the websites of The Blood-Horse and The Equine Chronicle.


In her personal horse experience, Mary has been around horses all her life and has won several Appaloosa National Champion and Reserve World Champion titles in the show ring. 

 

Mary has always aspired to have a career with horses and since her love for horse racing began, she has dreamed of pursuing a career in the Thoroughbred racing industry, possibly as a writer and marketing/communications specialist. She is currently attending the University of North Texas, where she is studying Photojournalism. With this blog, she hopes to show readers horse racing through the eyes of a young fan as she writes about assorted horse racing topics.

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