December 3, 2021

Wise Dan gallops to course record in Woodbine Mile

Last updated: 9/15/13 7:55 PM

Like all of the great performers in the world of sport, Wise Dan made it look easy
(WEG/Michael Burns Photography)

Reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan didn’t just make history by becoming the
first two-time winner of the Grade 1, $965,900

Woodbine Mile
on Sunday. Morton Fink’s homebred star surpassed his own
achievement from 2012 by blazing to a new course record of 1:31.75, while never
appearing to come out of a common canter. Now the winner of nine straight, and
12 of his last 13 starts, Wise Dan booked his passage to another title defense
in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita.

Wise Dan also enhanced trainer Charles LoPresti’s and Hall of Fame rider John
Velazquez’s standing in the annals of the Woodbine Mile. LoPresti won an
unprecedented third straight edition, having first prevailed with Turallure in
2011. Only the legendary Neil Drysdale and Bobby Frankel have also saddled three
winners, but not consecutively.

Velazquez, already the winningest rider in race history, extended his hold on
the record book with his fourth victory, twice as many as any other jockey.
Prior to Wise Dan’s double, his scores came courtesy of Riviera in 2000 and
Leroidesanimaux, who romped by a record 7 3/4-length margin in 2005. But Sunday,
Velazquez affirmed that Wise Dan is in a different league from Leroidesanimaux.

“I compare it to the horse I sat on, Leroidesanimaux, when he won over here,”
Velazquez said, “but I always said he was a freak.

“This one is a much bigger freak than the other one. He’s a much better
horse. Always wins. Horse of the Year, you can’t change that.”

Bet down to 1-5 favoritism from his 2-5 morning-line price, Wise Dan found a
comfortable rhythm in third, drafting just behind the dueling leaders Excaper
and Dimension. Although they were zipping through fractions of :23 and :45 2/5
on the firm turf, the champion was striding effortlessly on cruise control.
Behind him came Za Approval and the deep-closing pair of Trade Storm and Riding
the River.

After the pacesetters blitzed six furlongs in a blistering 1:08 2/5, Wise Dan
lumbered alongside them in the stretch. Velazquez continued to sit still in the
saddle, and Wise Dan didn’t even have to extend himself as he simply blew them
away. As Velazquez took a couple of quick backward glances, only to see his
rivals toiling, Wise Dan coasted home by 3 1/2 lengths without breaking a sweat.

“The only thing that kind of concerned me a little bit,” Velazquez revealed,
“I think I did a little too much with him in the post parade. He was kind of
quiet and then he broke well and I put him right behind the other two horses.

“And he got rank with me behind the other two horses and I thought, ‘Come on
buddy, please come off the bridle a little bit.’ Once he did that I waited until
the five-sixteenths pole and let him easy out from those two horses and as soon
as he saw the wire, he just went on.

“It just feels great to be on him,” the Hall of Famer summed up. “I’ll tell
you what, just being on him, it’s a pleasure to be connected to this horse. The
things he has done is incredible. I just thank the owners and Charlie for giving
me the opportunity to stay on him.”

Za Approval garnered best-of-the-rest honors, 1 1/4 lengths clear of Trade
Storm. Riding the River, who was fourth to Wise Dan a year ago, repeated that
performance. Dimension and Excaper brought up the rear.

Wise Dan, who paid $2.50 to win, has now amassed $5,043,610 from his
25-18-1-0 record.

Unraced as a juvenile, Wise Dan showed ability when winning four of six
starts at three. During that 2010 campaign, he captured his stakes debut in the
Phoenix Stakes at Keeneland and finished a creditable sixth, beaten just 2 1/2
lengths, in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

Wise Dan proved a triple-surface threat in 2011, winning the Firecracker in
his turf debut, and adding the Presque Isle Mile on Tapeta, before romping in
the Fayette over Keeneland’s Polytrack and the Clark Handicap on the Churchill
Downs dirt.

The chestnut gelding kicked off his 2012 season at Keeneland with a
scintillating 10 1/2-length conquest of the Ben Ali in a track-record time of
1:46.63 on the Polytrack. Wise Dan returned to Churchill for the Stephen Foster
Handicap, only to lose by a head after a tough trip. That is his only loss in
his past 13 races.

Wise Dan commenced his current winning streak in last summer’s Fourstardave
at Saratoga, then added the Shadwell Turf Mile, Woodbine Mile and Breeders’ Cup
Mile, the latter in a course- and stakes-record 1:31.78 at Santa Anita.

By taking home Eclipse Awards as Horse of the Year, champion older male and
champion turf male, Wise Dan joined the legendary John Henry as the only two to
sweep those three honors in the Eclipse era.

Wise Dan is five-for-five in 2013, with victories in the April 12 Maker’s 46
Mile, May 4 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic, June 28 Firecracker and the August 10
Fourstardave en route to Woodbine. In both the Firecracker and Fourstardave, he
conceded plenty of weight to his rivals while lugging 128 and 129 pounds,

“I don’t have the right word to tell you how much it means to me,” Fink said.
“He is a super horse, but he’s there because Charlie takes care of him. When you
handle a horse that can run like this the temptation is to run him every couple
of weeks. He is a money machine. It will never happen as long as Charlie and I
have anything to do with him.

“I’d like to get to 2014 and have the horse in the shape he is in now and
then I can answer you better,” Fink said of long-range plans. “All I look forward to is the next race. All
probability it will be the Breeders’ Cup. Not for sure if we will run between.”

“He’s a great horse — I mean he is a dream come true,” LoPresti said. “He
makes us very proud. What he does for the fans and what he does for us, all my
team that’s worked with him, Mr. Fink is the breeder, the mare, all the awards
we got for breeding and the mare. He is just a dream come true. What a wonderful

“You try not to do too much with him. That’s what Johnny was saying. You just
really got to keep him fresh between races. He is such an incredible workhorse
that you don’t want to work him too many times and once you get him to this
level you just got to maintain him.

“I hope he is around for a lot more years, I tell you,” LoPresti added.

The Kentucky-bred is by Wiseman’s Ferry and out of the winning Wolf Power
mare Lisa Danielle, the reigning Broodmare of the Year. He is a half-brother to
multiple Grade 2 victor Successful Dan, who set a new Churchill track record
when taking the 2012 Alysheba. Successful Dan recorded a fast-closing second in
the August 3 Whitney and subsequently finished third in the August 31 Woodward.

Another half-sibling to the “Dans,” stakes winner Our Royal Dancer, is
herself the dam of Argentinean Group 2-placed Bailando Voy. Lisa Danielle is in
turn a half-sister to Grade 1-placed Carsona, who has produced Grade 2 victor
Siphon City. This is the family of German Group 1-winning highweight Scalo, and
further back, French champion, classic winner and noted sire *Val de Loir as
well as dual classic heroine and Irish champion *Valoris II.

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