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HRN Original Blog:
Zipse At The Track

Wise Dan has it all over Charismatic

The righteous indignation is primed and ready to strike. 

 

Wise Dan did not win on dirt this year.”  

 

“Wise Dan has not won at a classic distance.”
 
If Wise Dan wins the 2012 Horse of the Year, it is a clear sign that American racing has gone to the pits. So say some race fans who believe that the horse who won possibly the strongest race of this year’s World Championships, and in track record time no less, would be more fraud than champion.
 
Pure poppycock in this writer’s eyes, but still, I suppose there are enough figurative signatures on this petition to address the issue.
 
Make no mistake; Wise Dan will be named Horse of the Year when the award is announced at Gulfstream Park on January 19. He earned the honor fair and square on the racetrack, as the best American runner over the calendar year. It’s already been addressed ad nauseam in many places (including here) why his achievements this year better that of anyone else up for consideration, and therefore, deserves to win the 2012 award. Today, I’d rather look at things from a different angle.
 
Wise Dan’s winning of Horse of the Year will not be some sort of black mark on the roll call of American champions. Far from it; he has the seasonal credentials to stand proudly on a list of year-end champions. Of course I know he is not Secretariat or Spectacular Bid, but few champions are. Historically speaking, I can name many horses that did not have a more consistently excellent season than did Wise Dan this year. Is it blasphemous for me to say this? No, I only speak the truth.
 
You need not look farther back than last year to find a Horse of the Year in which their season can be fairly called weaker than that of Wise Dan. I know what you are thinking. Using Havre de Grace, in 2011, only goes to show that our champion's quality is in a free-fall. Again, I say not so.
 
I will not endeavor to open a whole new can of worms by listing many horses that I believe achieved no more in their Horse of the Year seasons than Wise Dan did this year. Rather I will choose one horse from recent history to compare and contrast.
 
In 2012, Wise Dan won 5-of-6 races. All of them were graded stakes races.
 
In 1999, Horse of the Year, Charismatic won 4-of-10, and one of his wins came when he was placed first through disqualification in a $62,500 claiming race. He also lost two allowance races that year.
 
In 2012, Wise Dan won four grade one races. 
 
In 1999, Charismatic won only two grade one races.
 
In 2012, Wise Dan’s defeats added up to a total margin of a short head, while his wins totaled more than 22 lengths.
 
In 1999, Charismatic’s defeats added up to nearly 33 lengths, while his wins totaled just over 4 lengths.
 
In 2012, Wise Dan’s highest speed figure was 117. 
 
In 1999, Charismatic’s highest speed figure was 108.
 
In 2012, Wise Dan finished his season in November.
 
In 1999, Charismatic’s final race came on June 5, due to injury.
 
Only if you believe that American’s highest year-end award is reserved for ten furlongs on dirt, can you truly believe that Wise Dan will be a fraudulent Horse of the Year. If so, I think it is time to take the blinkers off.
 
Oh, and one more thing, I believed Usain Bolt was the biggest star of the 2012 Summer Olympics, and I didn’t need to see him throw a ball through a hoop, run 26 miles, or perform a gymnastics floor exercise to think so. Nor do I need to compare him to Jesse Owens, to appreciate his excellence.

 

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Older Comments about Wise Dan has it all over Charismatic...

I really dont see the logic in comparing horses from different seasons. If the BEST horse in a particular year wins 3 Graded stakes, (or whatever BCC, derby, etc) and thats beter than everyone else then that horse is the BEST then they earned it, period. If in another year a horse has 6 Graded wins and that is the BEST, then that horse deserves HOY, period. Wise Dan should be hands down, HOY. Followed closely by Little Mike and Royal Delta. IMO
Charismatic got good for what, 6 weeks out of an entire career? come now
  • likin sparks · But do remember TV, this horse was doubted his entire career and never thought to win above a claims race until your buddy DWL seen something in him and decided to throw a few stabs in the dark. · 597 days ago
He's not undeserving. *I* think others (Fort Larned or Little Mike) deserve it more, but Wise Dan is more deserving this year than Zenyatta was in 2010. However, he is less deserving than Zenyatta was in 2009. Such is the nature of the award
  • annmatt · Can't let that go! Unless you want to re-classify the graded stakes system, Zenyatta had 5 Grade 1s in 2010. Her nemesis, Blame had 4, and he also got beat in the JCGC by the horse that finished last in the Classic! Were they giving Zenyatta credit for her 2009 Classic victory against one of the strongest fields in that race's history, and her "heart" she showed in the 2010 loss? Probably so, but there was much more to Zenyatta's 2010 year than on the track, and that is what end of year awards are, or should be, about. In 2011, it was noted that handle, viewership, and attendance were all down over 10% due to the absence of Zenyatta. She had that "something extra" that drew fans to her like flies to honey. She was in short a "star"...Blame had a good trip, she displayed something only seen rarely in the great ones: heart. · 597 days ago
Good points!
What an unbelievable article. Charismatic won two legs of the Triple Crown and came up barely short injured in the Belmont Stakes. How on earth can you begin to compare them? A win in the derby is a lot more than the Big Cap though both are G1's. Tell Bill Mott Ron The Greek he had a worse season than IHA.
This is like comparing a mouse to a kangaroo.
I don't see where it's either a hard choice, or an outrageous one. If not for the photo loss to Ron The Greek, who by the way was at the top of his game when they met, he would be unbeaten for 2012. That race was run at 9f on dirt, which seems to have become the new classic distance for n/a racing on dirt. A deviation from history to acknowledge the best horse, and he is, is not without precedent. Rachel Alexexander's top distance was 9.5f and she got what she deserved HOTY. So should Wise Dan. He is IMO one of the best n/a horses in recent years. I've watched a replay of his BC run a few times and to me it seemed he had a lot more in the tank at the finish. I don't see anyone even close to him for the #1 spot, as what he doesn't cover with distance he more than makes up for in consistancy.This is a turnaround for me as I thought it should go to a horse winning the classic distance and stated that before the bc. However at the time I stated that, I also stated he was easily the best horse in n/a. He got in the mix with,RTG,FL,etc and beat some really good horses in the BC.
At first I thought the "classic distance" argument was enough for me to veer away from Wise Dan. But if that is the golden criteria to win horse of the year, then how did Native Dancer, Nashua, Secretariat, Favorite Trick, or Lookin at Lucky all win the award as a 2 year old? At one point in time I was very vocal against Wise Dan as Horse of the Year, but I have come around. He has been the most dominate horse in the nation this year, for the entire year. He is as deserving as any horse in the past.
Comparing Wise Dan to Charismatic really doesn't help make the case for Wise Dan being Horse of the Year since Charismatic is probably the weakest Horse of the Year winner ever. I think Wise Dan will be Horse of the Year and a deserving winner this year, like Havre de Grace was last year, but both horses have records that are pretty weak when compared to most past winners. I think this says more about how horses are trained and campaigned than about the quality of the horse. Today the horses in the glamour divisions of racing, older classic distance males and 3 year old males are not able to produce Horse of the Year worthy records, many older males are only running 5-6 times and the 3 year olds are not able to complete the year. This will be the fourth year in a row without a Horse of the Year coming out of one of these major divisions, compare that to the winners before 2009, the vast majority were older males or 3 year olds. Racing needs stars in these glamour divisions and today it is not happening.
I agree that between the two, Charismatic had the weaker resume. Wise Dan is HOTY, but his absence from the Classic raises serious doubts about his
Thank you, DeeAnn, and what you say is very true.
Well written as usual Brian. I think this country has a hard time thinking beyond their classic winners and tend to almost diefy those that break down or are injured during a classic race. Therefore, while you make a great argument (which I agree with completely) emotion will frequently win out over logic and statistics in a comparison like this.
Wise Dan beat Fort Larned in their only meeting this year by 12 lengths ... and that is the one race that people seem to be holding against Wise Dan.
i say fort larned or dan. leaning more towards fort larned though. dude ron the greek is good horse, has on bad race and hes bad? so disrespectful. and the classic was a death of closers on the dirt so thats a throw out.
Some of the comments on here really make me laugh. Little Mike lost to nine horses, and all but one of them are not multiple grade 1 winners like Ron the Greek. And as far as Charismatic (likely the weakest HoY in the last 20 years), besides losing allowance and claiming races that year, who did he beat? The great Menifee twice! Wise Dan did not dodge the BC! Find some reality, people!!!
need i say more he lost to ron the greek come on!!! little mike deserves it more than him.
An American horse that does not run on dirt, win at the classic distance and dodges the BC is lacking. Had he shipped, say to Dubai, and won there against tougher opposition, perhaps. To compare him with Charismatic is silly (aside from the fact it is a 13-year-old comparison). What would WD's margins have been IF he had run in the TC and IF he had won the first two legs (and come close to winning the third with a broken leg)? RD went everywhere.
Kotashann? Don't joke it makes me laugh out loud. FOREGO, and ACK ACK had it all over that one.
HOY as described in Wikipedia, "designation given to a horse, irrespective of age, whose performance during the racing year was deemed the most outstanding". Taking into consideration a horses entire body of work during 2012, Wise Dan is the logical choice.
Horse of the Year is the horse of the year, the best horse of the year ---> Wise Dan. How about Kotashaan in 1993?

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Meet Brian Zipse 

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing since birth. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. 
  
As Managing Editor of Horse Racing Nation, Brian authors a daily column as Zipse at the Track, or ZATT for short, and adds his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Brian also serves on the the Board of Directors of ReRun Thoroughbred Adoption and is a Vox Populi committee member. 
  
A graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives in Suburban Chicago with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra, where he is a professional golf instructor when he is not following the horses.