Race of the Week 2017

HRN Original Blog:
Dueling Down The Stretch

Wise Dan should Target Whitney, not Firecracker

Wise Dan 615 X 400
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 head.
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 fashion.
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 Larned.
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 horse can.


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Older Comments about Wise Dan should Target Whitney, not Firecracker...

One qualifier exists. The horse that gets the most votes gets the award. Are you still not comprehending what I said even though I clearly explained it?
You all forget that he wasn't going to run from the Churchill Downs race to the Fourstardave. That he ran here was just them being generous and throwing us a bone
I definitely agree it made Wise Dan's connections look like they were cherry picking softer targets for him to keep his winning streak in tact dropping him to G2 level for the Firecracker Handicap after having reeled off 5 straight G1's on turf and having scarcely been challenged in any of them. Where I disagree is that while Wise Dan has proven to be very durable on conventional dirt & synthetics also, it's been on the turf that we've seen his game go to a whole knew level. The way he's ran at a mile and 9f on turf leaves me no hesitation in saying he would stay 10f easily and possibly even 11f. I don't think they should switch to dirt to appease him running at 9f, I think it's time to stretch him out some on turf. Wise Dan should've absolutely been pointed at the G1 Man O' War Stakes and if all went well at Belmont then the G1 Arlington Million full bore. Provided he gets the distance in both, who the hell could beat him? TJMO.
Another thing is, one can check the number of votes for each category. You might be shocked at which votes were close or way skewed for the winner, when they maybe in your opinion shouldn't have been, or even which ones weren't unanimous.
Another thing is, one can check the number of votes for each category. You might be shocked at which votes were close or way skewed for the winner, when they maybe in your opinion shouldn't have been, or even which ones weren't unanimous.
The hell. The Frankel voter needs to be banned for life and I'm saying this as a Frankel fan. Utter ridiculousness.
kay, Even icy's source reference above states that it is a rule, but unwritten, and that votes for Frankel, etc., are not unexpected. As you can see from the references I cited, some of the voters take the rule seriously.
yet somehow someone voted for Frankel for an Eclipse, and the vote was allowed to stand?
Another reference to this rule can be found in a BH article. http://cs.bloodhorse.com/blogs/ntra-alex-waldrop-straight-up/archive/2010/12/27/eclipse-awards-voting-deadline-looms.aspx
An Eclipse voter has written the following in Forbes Magazine: "There's only one rule governing eligibility: the horse has to have made one start in North America." http://www.forbes.com/sites/teresagenaro/2011/11/17/choosing-the-champions-not-like-other-sports/
No qualifier exists! Sully, please read as any of the Eclipse Award voters associated with HRN could have spared you many sleepless nights. As for me being ignorant, I do the best I can with what I have to work with, and never assume I can't learn something. Here is a link that will give you a detailed description of the voting parameters."From time to time there has been some discussion about whether or not there needs to be parameters for eligibility to receive an Eclipse Award. We’ll discuss it again this year. Right now there are no parameters."http://www.paulickreport.com/features/the-breeders-cup-forum/the-breeders-cup-forum-total-eclipse/
That qualifier does exist.
I actually wish they would throw in the qualifier that the horse have a NA start. While few doubt Frankel is a great great horse, all of his starts were in Europe, where he should have been and was rewarded. Why did someone vote for him in a North American reward?
What this means is the horse that gets the most votes, gets the award, and then is determined to be the most outstanding of that year. That's the purpse of the award, much like MVP awards in most other sports.
Are you illiterate, icy? What is the HOY award? "The horse determined by votes to be the most outstanding of a given year." When TF did I say anything about criteria to persuade voters? Go TF on with your just trying to start arguments, especially when you make absolutely no sense.
That wasn't lightning, the best horse he beat was Slim Shadey and he wasn't that impressive
Sullivan-Are you forgetting his ther GR1 win in the Woodford Reserve ? Lightning struck THREE time I guess.....
Inconsistent because everytime he faces pace he fails. His wins come in international competitions where he is usually the lone speed and the rest are closers. If he didn't hang on, we'd have a problem. There was nothing about Little Mike's career last year that said he was better than Dan. Dan plowed through multiple Grade 1s, almost took the Foster, and set a track record at Keeneland.
Little Mike is a G1 horse, no doubt. He's inconsistent and pace is just good. Little Mike is a good horse. WISE DAN, on the other hand, is a GREAT horse, especially in this era. WISE DAN is America's best turf horse I've seen in a while. WISE DAN is GREAT. Little Mike is good. Little Mike (as t_v says, referring to different horses, though) "couldn't hold Wise Dan's bridle"... Wise Dan would smoke Little Mike at ANY distance on turf. As for the Whitney debate, I agree with Scott Dick and Sullivan. Wise Dan could contend the Whitney (energy distirbuion, fast enough, etc) and he can compete on dirt (some good outings), but Wise Dan should run in the Fire Cracker (like he is) to PREP for the Fourstardave...
You cannot penalize a horse for running in a weak division. Lightning struck twice for Little Mike

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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, TwinSpires.com, 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. 

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