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Breeders' Cup 2017

Animal Kingdom or Wise Dan?

To be or not to be: isn’t that the question? Well, avid race goers and spectators have a similar question on their hands: Wise Dan or Animal Kingdom?

Most who watched the 2012 Breeders Cup Mile saw only what was on top: Wise Dan clearly demolishing the field, and after all, he did set a new track record in doing so. But those select few people who know racing looked deeper. Not at the track surface. Not at the 3rd place finisher. But their attention drew to the 2nd place finisher, Animal Kingdom.

After a good break from the gates, Animal Kingdom (with new jockey Rafael Bejarano) was content with settling 7th going into the first turn. All the way to the 3rd turn, he stayed there, observing, letting all of the other horses do the work. It was only when he needed to move that a nightmare snuck up on him: he was boxed on the rail, coming into the homestretch, with no room. If he had room, he might’ve been the one to challenge Wise Dan all through the stretch. Rafael Bejarano certainly knew what was under him, and that was a horse with a full tank and no running room, a gut sinking situation. But with 100 yards left, his chance opened up. Bejarano pushed Animal Kingdom hard without going to his whip, and the chestnut responded gamely. He opened up his strides and ate up the track, aimed at Wise Dan, the leader. Unfortunately, he ran out of ground as Wise Dan had just crossed the wire. But, didn’t Wise Dan have to overcome anything? Did he have the perfect trip? Well, lets take a look at his trip.

Wise Dan, breaking from post 2, sprang from the gates quickly without any trouble and loped to the lead. He and Johnny Velazquez sank to 3rd, watching the front runners run themselves dry. Obviously and Suggestive Boy took the opening quarters in 23.34 and 46.16. Coming into the homestretch, Wise Dan weaseled himself along the rail into 2nd and hooked to the outside, 2 lengths behind Obviously. In a few strides, Wise Dan did what he does best: took the lead and opened daylight. Its going to be an easy win, he’ll have no competitors, spectators clearly thought. Well, it was. Until Animal Kingdom burst onto the scene a second too late.

In 2013, Animal Kingdom (I’m going on a limb here) will be a beast. He is just beginning to grow up and get a hold of running. There will be nothing stopping him, besides the horse that gave him his most recent defeat. Animal Kingdom’s breeding suggests it, and his past performances support it; Animal Kingdom at his best will be extremely hard to beat.

Then again, Wise Dan is not a horse you can easily look over when it comes to any race of his. He has won his last 4 starts in awe-inspiring fashion, knocking off all challengers in a race to the wire. Even though Wise Dan is consistent, you can look for AK to ruin that streak. This may be Dan’s last year, for he may be losing his touch, some say. Well, judging by his Breeders Cup Mile, I don’t think he is losing talent anytime soon.

Who knows, maybe a new comer to the scene will dominate turf miles in the US in 2013. Maybe a horse will kick dust in Wise Dan and Animal Kingdom’s faces. But, I don’t think that’s going to happen. Ever. In a fair ridden race between Animal Kingdom and Wise Dan, my money is going on Animal Kingdom. Who will be your pick?


Written by Madison Jackson (aka TBDF)


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Older Comments about Animal Kingdom or Wise Dan?...

Um, yes I"m pretty sure the Kentucky Derby is 10 furlongs
to 10f, lol the Derby isn't at 9f yet
Versatility is the ability to run on several surfaces well. Wise Dan has won at 6 different tracks, Animal Kingdom has won at 4. Wise Dan has won from 6f to 9f, Animal Kingdom only 8.5f to 9f. While both have won on the three major surfaces, dirt, turf and synethetics, Wise Dan has done it not only more impressively but stronger.
Keep in mind that Animal Kingdom DID win The Kentucky Derby, on dirt, at the classic distance of 10 furlongs. So I'd say he is the better of the 2 of versitility.
Steve, I have always disagreed with that. I always (This Year) believe AK is the king of verstility, not Wise Dan. Animal Kingdom is good at 8-10 furlongs on any surface. I don't see how you could say Wise Dan can beat him at 10 if he hasn't even run that far. The mile was too short for AK, yet he was able to come within a reasonable length or so of Wise Dan. Animal Kingdom has an excellent turn of foot. Animal Kingdom is going to be the best horse in the N/A next year.
My money goes on Animal Kingdom, no matter what surface if the race is 9 or longer. 8 my money on Wise Dan, 8.5 I would be split. Any race on dirt my money would go to AK.
I'd give a leg to see Animal Kingdom and Wise Dan on a 9 furlong turf race to the wire....a leg of a turkey, that is.
I just haven't seen enough of Animal Kingdom to know how he'd run at those distances on those two surfaces, against Wise Dan. Wise Dan was not run on dirt after the Foster, and if one can find a head-on replay of the '12 Foster, note the tired staggering to the right by almost the entire field, including the winner. Wise Dan was also kept out of the BC Classic and turf races longer than 1 mile, so for now, I'll go by his trainer's intent for the races in which he is expected to excel.
Wise Dan would beat AK at 8F on the turf or dirt, he would beat AK at 9 or 10F on the dirt or turf. Wise Dan is one of the best and possibly the most versatile and underappreciated horses in the past 20 years. It seems like every time he races, there is another horse people want to win more within the race. Well, I was at the BC this year and even if AK doesn't hit traffic, he would not of run down Wise Dan. Wise Dan broke that track record without being pressured or pushed, if AK had been there, Wise Dan would of broke the world record!
Thanks guys! Nice to see somebody actually reading this! LOL
John Velasquez has ridden both horses. He chose Wise Dan. Let's see who he chooses next, but while Animal Kingdom is talented he was no Cigar and that showed as he placed at the Breeder's Cup. Speaking of Cigar, in his 1995 BCC we saw him eased, and the whole field looked as though they were making up ground. A horse on the lead does not run as fast, maybe with as much will, as a horse next to horses.
I don't think Wise Dan and Animal Kingdom will face each other next year, unless Wise Dan's connections decide to stretch the horse out. I think Animal Kingdom is great at 8-10 furlongs on whatever surface, I find Wise Dan best at 8-9 furlongs, perferring artificial or turf. If they face each other however, my money would most likely go on Animal Kingdom.
Nice article, TBDF!
I think we'll see Animal Kingdom in longer races from now on, so he and Wise Dan might not face each other very often.
Maddie(TBDF), I enjoyed your account of the BC Mile. The use of the word weasled had me laughing, and kind of gave away which horse you would be favoring, but good job with your write-up. I hope Animal Kingdom will be injury free from now on and that he'll have a 2013 campaign that you've predicted. Nice to see your name.

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