HRN Original Blog:
Dueling Down The Stretch

Wise Dan, 2012's Brightest Star

Was 2012 a year of disappointment? Was it a year where the depth of divisions was so lacking that a Turf Miler would be named Horse of the Year, Turf Champion, and Champion Older Male? Or was 2012 a year with such an outstanding group of horses, that it took one so brilliant, so versatile, and so talented to achieve such a historic Triple. Some may say it was the former. I say 2012 was a year of outstanding brilliance.
Any number of horses were worthy of Horse of the Year, some made it as finalists, some didn’t. Those that did, Fort Larned, Wise Dan, and I’ll Have Another were nothing short of awe inspiring and brilliant. Fort Larned took a little while to find his best stride, but once equipped with blinkers he was a force to be reckoned with. He took the Whitney and the Breeders' Cup in spectacular fashion, along with other stakes such as the Skip Away and Cornhusker. I’ll Have Another was unbeaten this year. His battles in the Derby in Preakness with Bodemeister evoked memories of Affirmed and Alydar. He showed brilliance and grit in his four starts. Wise Dan, well, his story is well known. His only loss was a head, to Ron the Greek. Two track record performances, one in the Breeders' Cup against some of the best in the world, would bookend a spectacular season.
Others, who while not nominated, but had seasons worthy of nomination were Groupie Doll, Point of Entry, and Royal Delta. Groupie Doll won five consecutive stakes, including a Breeders' Cup. Royal Delta won the Fleur de Lis, the Delaware Handicap and the Beldame, before a scintillating performance against, arguably, the strongest Breeders Cup field assembled this year. Point of Entry demonstrated his prowess over distances, winning five in a row, 4 stakes, three grade ones. He came up just short in the Breeders' Cup, after putting in a furious rally.
So, all in all, the facts point towards an exceedingly brilliant and deep year. A year where six horses had a legitimate shot at becoming Horse of the Year. Those six horses won sixteen races between them, all but two won their division, and the two that didn’t were finalists in the same divisions swept by Wise Dan.
This year was not weak. Anyone who thinks that needs to go back over the year and look at what brilliance was shown to us. Wise Dan was simply the most brilliant and the brightest of the rest of the stars. He is the first horse to take home Champion Older Male, Turf Champion, and Horse of the Year since 1981, and there is nobody, no matter how they try to degrade him, no matter how harsh their words, that can take that away from him.
2012 was a superb year, and Wise Dan was the star of it.


comments powered by Disqus

Older Comments about Wise Dan, 2012's Brightest Star...

"Just because a turf miler is named HOTY doesn't mean a weak older male division." LIKE
Just because a turf miler is named HOTY doesn't mean a weak older male division. If the times of the races were sub par and the numbers were way down, I could see it but that was far from the case. The numbers that the older males threw were higher than numbers we have seen in recent years. Times were just as good if not better for that group. Just because one did not establish themselves doesn't mean it was a bad bunch. That could just as well me the group all around was talent and full of depth. It wasn't like a longshot beat the favorite. The horses that won were already well respected. RTG had a very consistent year, as did Fort Larned, MMM, and Flat Out. The Whitney, FO, FL, and RTG went 123. Look at their records, you see they run consistently fast. They were evenly matched, but also one of the best groups of older males we have seen in a long time. Times and numbers say that.
Geldings are the sturdiest of what is left of any sturdiness in the breed. This one could easily extend his legacy by the mere exercise of running over multiple surfaces again this season...THAT alone in top company it a unique thing nowadays.
I am excited to see how he runs this year, another consistent year would be great. Lopresti, always modest, is a little too modest. I'm worried if Wise Dan is this good or there is something deeper to this. Did his horse just peak and is now on decline?
Wise Dan was much deserving of HOY. Great, great horse. And, I know I might be insulted for saying this but: I think if he has another season of this caliber, he must be labeled as one of the best american turf milers ever. Really. He is a really good horse. And, I am looking foward to another year worth of memories he will bring to us next year!
Wise Dan was awesome in 2012!!
Wise Dan had the highest Beyer on turf, and over all. 121 I think it may have been
Just off the track record in Toronto as well under wraps
Didn't Wise Dan also record one of the highest speed figures ever recorded on polytrack when he broke the track record at nine furlongs in Keeneland? If so, the voters might have taken that in consideration as well. This year the turf males and older females were two very deep divisions. The three year old males were brilliant but overall a fragile bunch. The older dirt running males took turns winning the important graded stakes, and none of them really rose to the top of the group.
This year had some very strong divisions like female sprinter, 2 year old male and turf runners. The 3 year old males were a strange group, in May it looked like a great crop but by the Travers they had been decimated by injuries. I have to agree with Steve about the older males, just the fact that a turf miler is both top older male and Horse of the Year says this is a weak group of classic distance older males. Unless I am mistaken this will be the first older male Horse of the year without a win at the classic distance. I believe that the reason that we have had 4 years in a row without a older male or 3 year male as Horse of the Year is not so much that the winners had great years as the older males and 3 year old had subpar campaigns. Wise Dan is a very nice horse and the deserving winner this year but his record would not have won the award in the past.
Steve, I'm sorry, but facts do not back your statement up whatsoever. Look at the numbers the male division threw, they were some of the best seen in years. Wise Dan beat some of the best turf milers in the world in that "less significant" Breeders Cup Mile. You act like his win in Canada means nothing, when in all honesty, it does. Americans count a win in Dubai, should a horse of ours go over there and win. Canada is not that far off and his win still deserves to be counted. You also forget, that while he stuck to turf for the majority of this season, he earned that nickname for having now a grade one on two different surfaces, and a graded stakes win, plus a track record on the third. He has also run and won at 9f. You want to say he ducked the best. He faced some of the best in the world. You want to say he's not versitile, well he's has a grade one on dirt and turf and a grade two on synthetic. Sorry, but neither one of your claimes stands up.
Wise Dan was the star of a very subpar group of older horses, nothing more. It's an insult to John Henry to make any sort of comparison between the two aside from accomplishing the same Eclipse Award feat in one year. The bulk of his grade 1 campaign lasted less than two months of 2012 and all he had to show for it was 2 U.S. grade 1s(one in Canada), all on one surface and at one distance. This alleged "lord of versatility" supposedly has no problem with dirt or 10 furlongs, yet his connections still ducked the best dirt race in the world for older horses and ran in the less significant BC Mile. If this is what you call a “superb year”, I shudder to think of what a weak one looks like. Enough with these default HOTYs, hopefully the 2013 recipient earns it for being the best, not for simply being the last horse standing at the year’s end.
it was a great year!

Related Pages

      Connect With Laura
Me On Facebook
Follow Me On Twitter

Meet Laura Pugh

Laura Pugh got her first taste of Thoroughbred Racing when she watched War Emblem take the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 2001. After that point, she fell in love with the sport, reading every piece of news and information she could get her fingertips on.

Laura has a long history with horses in general, taking her first ride on her fifth birthday, with her first official riding lesson when she was eight years old. Both years she attended college she joined her school’s equestrian team, first at the now closed Virginia Intermont College, then again at Delaware State University. Unfortunately, after back and shoulder injuries, she had to hang up her saddle. 

In 2010 Laura came to Horse Racing Nation, but soon branched out to other media outlets, such as Lady and the Track,, and USRacing. She currently works at a local newspaper as a community reporter, while making a return to Horse Racing Nation, where she will once again feature her opinionated columns on the latest in horse racing. 

Related Stories

Top Stories