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HRN Original Blog:
Zipse At The Track

Who is the 2013 Horse of the Year?

Wise Dan vs. Will Take Charge


Who is the 2013 Horse of the Year?

It depends if you favor consistency or dancing every dance.

Consistency certainly sides with Wise Dan, who won six times, with one second, in his seven starts this year.

Will Take Charge, on the other hand, truly danced every dance for trainer, D. Wayne Lukas. He began his 2013 season in January and competed in eleven stakes races this year. While his record of five wins, and two seconds cannot match Dan the Man, there is something to be said for running all year long.



Who is the 2013 Horse of the Year?

It depends if you demand that our champions step outside their comfort zone.

I don’t believe there is a better miler in the world than Wise Dan. In six races this year on the grass, he won them all in high style. To many fans dismay, though, he was not entered in anything outside of a furlong from his comfort zone. His only race off the turf, was taken off, and resulted in his only loss. Za Approval proved to be his biggest competition this year.

Meanwhile, Will Take Charge’s connections, took the bull by the proverbial horns in 2013. After running in three Kentucky Derby preps in Arkansas, the son of Unbridled’s Song took it up a notch by running in all four of the most important races for three-year-olds in America. He then closed the season with two big runs against top older horses.



Who is the 2013 Horse of the Year?

It depends if you prefer dominance over heart-pounding victories.

Wise Dan may have been unable to catch Silver Max on the wet Polytrack of Keeneland in his lone loss this year, but in all of his other starts, he was dominant. Wet turf, firm turf, fast times, slow times, even a rogue hedge could not stop the 2012 Horse of the Year from completing his appointed rounds. He was simply much the best in each of his six wins.

A good nickname for Will Take Charge would be the Cardiac Kid. No less than five of his races this year were decided on the race’s final jump, with the big, long-legged kid winning four of them. Last jump victories over Oxbow, Game On Dude, and in the Travers, highlighted his season, while only his Pennsylvania Derby win was decided well before the wire.



Who is the 2013 Horse of the Year?

It depends if you believe classic American distances, on a dirt track, is the thing.

There can be no doubt that Wise Dan was the best turf horse in America this year. As already stated, he was six-for-six on the grass in 2013, and those victories came in the form of four grade 1 events and two grade two races. Clearly, as a turf miler, the Charles LoPresti trained gelding did everything asked of him, but in the U.S., turf miles do not carry the prestige that they do in other parts of the world.

American racing has always loved the ten furlong dirt horse, and Will Take Charge fits the bill. In his eleven stakes races this year, he ran on seven different dirt tracks ranging in distance from a mile to twelve furlongs. He ran in America’s most prestigious races, and at the classic distance of ten furlongs, he won the Travers, missed the Breeders’ Cup Classic by a whisker, and was wiped out hard in the Kentucky Derby.




Who is the 2013 Horse of the Year?

It depends if you think one Horse of the Year award is plenty unless your name is Secretariat, Forego or Kelso.

You may laugh at this one, but I think it is something that could sway some of the voters. Wise Dan won the award last year. Many will wipe the slate clean, and decide the award only on the merits of each horse’s 2013 season, which could help Wise Dan, but...

On the other hand, some may think that Wise Dan is not quite worthy of two in a row when compared to the greats of racing history that were able to turn the trick. In other words, if the decision is tight, voters might side with the new kid on the block, and that vote goes to Will Take Charge.



Who is the 2013 Horse of the Year?


I don’t know. After his win in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, I was sold on Wise Dan, but Will Take Charge just keeps coming. Maybe he can can get his nose on the wire one more time. What do you think? 


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Older Comments about Who is the 2013 Horse of the Year?...

Joan - You mean that recent Miler who also won at 10f and 10.5f in hand....
GOD threw in one bad race, WTC,MMM threw in plenty. My book it is between WD and GOD! Europe has been touting their recent miler as horse of the century, do we wear colored glasses?
GOD threw in one bad race, WTC,MMM threw in plenty. My book it is between WD and GOD! Europe has been touting their recent miler as horse of the century, do we wear colored glasses?
I can read, nice try spinning this one...
No, if you could read you would see that I say that if Animal Kingdom got a clean trip, Dan would've been pushed into running a WR time.
"Animal Kingdom, good as he was, would never have caught Dan in time".....then you go on to say if there hadn't been traffic he probablty would have.....
I didn't say Animal Kingdom wasnt up to it, nor that he wasn't a good horse, but Wise Dan was prepared to take down Candy Ride's World Record that day anf if Animak Kingdom hadnt been in traffic, he probably would've
Well geez... Animal Kingdom was out for about 9 months previous to the BC .. it was amazing to see him do as well as he did. No telling what he would have done if he had not been injured..
Animal Kingdom, good as he was, would never have caught Dan in time.
Animal Kingdom got a bad ride in BC 2012 and should have beaten Wise Dan. The Coach has done an incredible job conditioning Will Take Charge and hasn't ducked anyone! Enough Said!
CFC, you are correct. Remember, though, Mr. Fink and Mr. Lopresti had every opportunity to run in other circumstances (dirt, for example?) but chose to neglect any possibility of doing so. While it is not Wise Dan's fault for scaring off all quality grass opponents, it should be noted that he always could have stepped out of his comfort zone, yet, that is a decision the owners chose against.
  • Sully · And WTC could've ran in the BC Mile and got demolished. Last I checked, in most sports, you have to go beat the champ, not the other way around. · 1410 days ago
1964 11 5 3 0, Kelso- HOTY----2013 11 5 2 0, Will Take Charge- Started in January finished in November. That's the whole apple, not half. What he did in the middle is irrelevent to the year taken as a whole. This other horse I listed first got HOTY with an almost identical record. I just put that up to kind of balance the equation.
  • Sully · Considering WTC won 1 G1 against open company compared to multiples for Kelso, you're comparing apples and oranges here if you really look outside the numbers in terms of just record. · 1410 days ago
No it was a G2 when it came off.Also WTC beat 9 G1 winners ,VZ and GOD did it multiple times.Just because the same horse won the races,unfair not to count them.
  • Sully · Since you want to count horses WTC finished ahead of, and didn't beat (you have to win the race, everything else is a loss) you can add Turallure and Winning Prize to the list of horses Wise Dan "finished ahead of." Thanks for trying to misinform folks again with your Shadwell propaganda. You really need to learn how to google or something before you start stroking keys. · 1410 days ago
GOD, for either HOTY or OMHOTY is just fine with me. I'll say it again, I love this horse. Same goes for MMM. As for Wise Dan I think he's one of the best turf milers I've ever seen, period. So what's my beef with him garnering awards? It's this. If these were European Cartier Racing Awards my choice in each of eight categories would be Wise Dan to infinity, as these awards are all based on peformance on turf. However these are American Eclipse Awards and in the United States 80% or more of all races take place on dirt, so I believe that the awards should be biased towards those horses performing on the primary surface which is dirt. I do realize there are exceptions and Wise Dan is an exceptional horse. Just for the record I believe HOTY for him in 2012 was justified but not the two other awards. Having mentioned exceptional horses in this my last comment on this matter, I believe we here in America have an exceptional three year old whose body of work and work itself just keeps getting better to the point that 3yo HOTY just doesn't give him credit enough, and that would be Will Take Charge. Using the mathematics of who won this or that doesn't work with him, as graded stakes of equal numerical digits are not equal for the most part. The question then is, who is the best horse running on dirt in America at or close to the classic n/a distance. I don't automatically rule out turf horses, but this year WD didn't have the year he had last year even though the records are similar. This is JMO not something etched in concrete by me so treat it as such. If you have a different opinion you're entitled to it, just as I am to mine. I'm done contesting this matter as I've made all of my arguments and have nothing more to add. I've enjoyed discussing this and appreciate the civility shown on this entire thread. Have a nice day.
The other thing about Kelso was that he had been HOY starting in 1960, so he was the one to beat regardless. In some respects, Kelso in that time period had a presumptive entitlement to HOY. Something that Wise Dan, even though he was HOY last year doesn't have in my opinion. Kelso's hold on HOY honors continued into 1965 even though he had only six starts and won three, he was again starting his autumn surge with a great victory in the Stymie Handicap, but he had gotten hit in the eye with a clump of dirt which ended his racing for the year. He still received votes for HOY over both Roman Brother and Moccasin.
Even though Kelso's record in 1964 isn't absolutely stellar, he beat the only horses Gun Bow and three yr old Quadrangle that could have been a factor in the voting.
Icy is right about Kelso's 1964 year. That was the year he went to CA and finished out of the money in two starts at Hollywood. But this was the year of his rivalry with Gun Bow. Quadrangle was no match for either Gun Bow or Kelso. In the Woodward, which was a three horse race as Quandrangle was the only other entrant. Kelso and Gun Bow ran in tandem most of the way with Quadrangle so far back he was still running a day later. By knocking off Gun Bow in the JCGC and the DC International, that sealed HOY for Kelso. Roman Brother who would be HOY next year with Moccasin was never a factor that year. Basically HOY in 1964 came down to Kelso and Gun Bow, Kelso won more.
icy - I didn't know Kelso won with that record in 1964. Apparently there wasn't a six year old gelding going 7:6-1-0 on turf, or another six year old gelding going 7:5-1-0 on dirt. Was the rest of the field that weak? Northern Dancer won the Derby and Preakness. Quadrangle took the Belmont and Travers. Kelso won the two mile Jockey Club Gold Cup for the fifth time in late October. He finally won the D. C. International 12 days later, after finishing second the previous three years, going 2: 23 4/5 at Laurel, the fastest 1 1/2 miles ever recorded in America. Kelso finished strong, just like WTC did this year. We'll see if that sways the voters. Personally I was pulling for GOD to win the Classic, HOY and OMHOY.
2013 Horse of the Year will probably go to Wise Dan. Will Take Charge should definitely get 3 year old of the Year.
i think Wise Dan is a good choice for HOTY as well

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Meet Brian Zipse 

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, and American Pharoah. 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. 

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, or ZATT for short, and added his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Now a Senior Writer for HRN, Brian continues to contribute his thoughts on racing, as well as co-hosting the popular racing show, HorseCenter. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves as the President of The Exceller Fund.

Brian's work has also been published on several leading industry sites. He has consulted for leading contest site Derby Wars, is both a Hall of Fame and NTRA poll voter, and is a Vox Populi committee member. 

A horse owner and graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.


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