Wise Dan’s presence at Keeneland on Shadwell Turf Mile day has almost been a tradition since 2011 and Saturday--the day of the race's 30th running--was no exception. This time, instead of going to post in the Shadwell, after the third race the chestnut gelding paraded around the walking ring and past the grandstand once. And that was it--no more starting gates, no more sweeping moves in the stretch. We are left with an image of Dan clad in a white sheet as he was walked through the sloppy new Keeneland dirt, and a damp-eyed Charlie LoPresti and his wife Amy accepting a glass vase full of apples in the winner's circle.
The two-time Horse of the Year retires with $7,552,920 in earnings, and 23 wins and 2 seconds in 31 starts. In his 19 starts since a fourth place finish in the 2011 Shadwell Turf Mile, he has been undefeated on turf; his two losses were second place finishes on dirt and polytrack.
Wise Dan was not an iron horse in the traditional sense but he had us all fooled. It was an easy assumption to make after witnessing the steel resolve in his eyes and the hardened determination that carried his muscular frame from track to track and win to win. This was a horse that didn't know how to stop, a horse that had to get in front of his rivals at all costs, a horse that won graded stakes races after recovering from colic surgery. A traditional iron horse he may not have been, but there was no dispute that he had an iron heart.
For racing fans the decades are marked by the great horses that graced them, and from here on, in reminisces of racing past, no mention of the 2010s will pass without the name of Wise Dan.
The first stakes of the day, the 5-1/2 furlong Woodford Stakes Presented by Keeneland Select (Gr. III) was taken off the turf due to heavy rain the day before (and more forecast, which never manifested). Won by Amelia's Wild Ride and Jose Lezcano, the race was marred when favored Shore Runner (Kendrick Carmouche up) went down at the top of the stretch. Speechify and Shaun Bridgmohan fell over Shore Runner but Speechify got up and ran off without his rider.
Amelia's Wild Ride and Jose Lezcano win the Woodford Stakes Presented by Keeneland Select (Gr. III).
Jose Lezcano looks out at the track in concern for Shaun Bridgmohan, who needed medical attention after his mount Speechify fell.
2014 champion female sprinter Judy the Beauty was a welcome distraction in the 6-furlong Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes (Gr. II). With two starts behind her for 2015, the 6-year-old Ghostzapper mare was looking to get her first win of the year. It was not to be, as she and jockey Mike Smith found little room to run in the cluster of horses behind long-eared pacesetter Desert Valley. Fioretti, Sophie Doyle up, won, with Heykittykittykitty and RIchardo Santana, Jr. second, and Judy the Beauty third. The race was a "Win and You're In" for the Breeder's Cup Filly & Mare Sprint.
Judy the Beauty's tattoo is checked near the entrance to the paddock for the Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes (Gr. II).
Heykittykittykitty, eventual second-place finisher in the Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes.
The sweet-faced Sweet Whiskey, who finished fifth in the Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes.
The 1-mile First Lady Stakes (Gr. I) was on the turf, which was rated as soft. Tepin, who has been one to watch this year, stalked the pace and drew away to an effortless 7-length win under Julien Leparoux. The win was nothing short of amazing over the soft turf, and it was later determined the race was run in 1:37.04 versus 1:37.45 for the Shadwell Turf Mile. Crowley's Law (GB) and Victor Espinoza were second, with My Miss Sophia and Jose Lezcano in third.
In the paddock, Tepin made it clear she was ready for the First Lady Stakes (Gr. I).
Julien Leparoux looks back at the field as Tepin cruises to a large lead in the First Lady Stakes.
(Above & below two) Tepin easily wins the First Lady Stakes.
Brody's Cause and Corey Lanerie won the 102nd running of the 1-1/16 miles Claiborne Breeder's Futurity (Gr. I). Favored Exaggerator and Kent Desormeaux looked to be the clear winners before Brody's Cause passed them in the stretch. Rated R Superstar, Calvin Borel up, was third. The race was a "Win and You're In" for the Breeder's Cup Juvenile.
(Above & below) Exaggerator leaps at the start of the Claiborne Breeder's Futurity (Gr. I).
(Above & below three) Brody's Cause and Corey Lanerie drive past Exaggerator to win the Claiborne Breeder's Futurity.
The $1,000,000 Shadwell Turf Mile (Gr. I), a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeder’s Cup Mile, was run over yielding turf beneath dreary gray skies. The bright florescent yellow, orange, and fuchsia silks of Luis Saez and Grand Arch punctuated the gloom first at the finish line. The Pizza Man (Florent Geroux up), winner of the Arlington Million (Gr. I) last out, took up a late charge from the back of the pack and moved powerfully down the stretch to finish second by a head. Tourist and Jose Lezcano were a neck back in third. It was an exciting race that was tarnished by Skyring breaking down in the backstretch.
The handsome The Pizza Man in the paddock for the Shadwell Turf Mile (Gr. I).
Grand Arch and Luis Saez warm up before the Shadwell Turf Mile.
Kelinni (IRE) sets the pace in the Shadwell Turf Mile.
Wise Dan may not have been entered in this edition of the Shadwell, but reminders of him were plentiful. The winner, Grand Arch, finished second behind Wise Dan in the 2014 Shadwell; second place finisher The Pizza Man is a likeable, hard-trying gelding that has been making his mark this year; and we were granted a sad reminder to be thankful for the careful management of Wise Dan's health and career by his connections.