Let's Not Forget the Other Dan

There is no use commenting on Wise Dan and the Breeders’ Cup Classic any longer, although there is one final thought mentioned farther down, merely for the sake of history. But although that door has been closed, let’s not forget the Dan No. 2 waiting to charge through Door No. 2. Although Wise Dan’s big brother Successful Dan has barely had his name mentioned since his excellent second-place finish in the Whitney, the belief here is that Charles LoPresti and Mort Fink have an excellent chance to win the Classic anyway with the second of Mort’s Mates.

While Successful Dan’s pedigree doesn’t quite shout out 1 1/4 miles, he overcame a lot to finish a fast-closing second in the Whitney -- from drawing the rail to falling in the paddock to dropping far back off fairly moderate fractions to having to swing six-wide at the top of the stretch. Then, when Mucho Macho Man drifted out around the three-sixteenths pole, it forced Successful Dan out several paths farther. Then, inside the eighth pole, Cross Traffic made a right-hand turn, forcing Mucho Macho Man out once again, impeding a rallying Successful Dan, who was knocked off stride and on to his left lead. He gathered himself and then came on again, switching back to his right lead just before the wire. With all that, he was beaten three-quarters of a length in the third fastest Whitney in the past 10 years, while coming home his final eighth in :12 2/5.

Just as Cross Traffic deserved to win the Whitney after two heartbreaking defeats in the Westchester and Met Mile in only his third and fourth career starts, Successful Dan deserves to win a grade I stakes after an injury-plagued career, which saw him go to the sidelines once for 15 months and once for 14 months. He did manage to win the grade I Clark Handicap in 2010, but was disqualified and placed third. It’s time he finally gets a break.

Late in the morning on Whitney day, Successful Dan stood motionless along the wall of his stall, facing the window, and it was obvious he had his game face on. He was in the zone, as they say. He telegraphed that into a huge performance, but still is looking for that elusive grade I score.

Mort Fink isn’t so sure that a sound Successful Dan isn’t as talented as his baby brother, or at least close to him in ability. And he’s pretty versatile himself. Four of his eight career victories have been on dirt and four have been on Polytrack.

Despite his speed-oriented sire line, he does have several stamina influences on his dam’s side (inbreeding to Princequillo, Northern Dancer, and when was the last time you saw a horse inbred to Kentucky Derby winner Lucky Debonair?) If he can be in peak form and healthy on Breeders’ Cup day, and with all the potential speed horses that could show up, he just might be on target finally to upstage his more heralded brother.

Speaking of which, it is obvious by now that LoPresti and especially Fink have their priorities pretty well firmed up and they don’t give a hoot what anyone thinks. Others, myself included, wish that their priorities involved the BC Classic, and I must admit that part of my thinking is based on the fact that I cover the Classic, and you always want to see the possibility of history being made in a race of that magnitude. Is that selfish on my part to want to chronicle a potential history-making event? It is not selfish to want to see him attempt to elevate himself into the realm of the truly great geldings, or all great horses for that matter. It is testament to Wise Dan’s extraordinary ability that so many people want to see him shoot for the stars, if only this one time.

I wrote a feature on Fink in the Blood-Horse magazine earlier this year and found him to be a man of great integrity who has devoted 40 years to racing and is having a ball with Wise Dan. So, I respect his decision and his priorities.

But as a historian of the sport I often think in those terms. I recently wrote my thoughts on striving for greatness in an online forum. And once again, this is not an attempt to convince anyone to try something they don’t want to do. This strictly is about greatness, based on 45 years of witnessing great horses, and being rewarded for a sporting gesture.

Why run John Henry in the Santa Anita Handicap twice and Jockey Club Gold Cup when he was strictly a grass horse? Result: Only horse to win the Big Cap twice.



Why keep trying to win the Washington D.C. International against the world's best turf horses with Kelso year after year when he was a dirt horse? Result: New American record for 1 1/2 miles and a fifth consecutive Horse of the Year title.



Why run Forego in the seven-furlong Vosburgh and Carter against brilliant sprinters like Mr. Prospector, Lonetree, and Timeless Moment when his best races were between 1 1/4 miles and 2 miles? Result: Only horse in history to win the two-mile JC Gold Cup and be named champion sprinter the same year.



All through history, horses, not just these three great geldings, have stepped out of their comfort zone to strive for greatness. It wasn’t about winning or losing. It was the sporting thing to do. Who remembers John Henry's, Forego's, and Kelso's defeats, except when those defeats actually boosted their reputation (ie Seattle Slew in the JC Gold Cup, Zenyatta in the BC Classic, Groupie Doll in last year's Cigar Mile)



Why run Arcangues in the BC Classic when he was strictly a grass horse? Result: Highest payoff in Breeders' Cup history.



Why stretch Ghostzapper out to 1 1/4 miles in the BC Classic when he had been two turns only once in his career and seven of his nine career starts were in sprints? And his half-brother, City Zip, couldn’t be pushed past six furlongs. Result: A new stakes record in the Classic and a Horse of the Year title.



Why run Raven's Pass and Henry the Navigator on a synthetic surface for the first time going 1 1/4 miles against the mighty Curlin when they were strictly grass milers? Result: an unprecedented European 1-2 finish.

Look at how close Giant’s Causeway and Sakhee came to becoming legends. And they would have had it not been for the courage and fighting spirit of Tiznow.



Wise Dan is a truly great miler on the grass and there is nothing wrong with having that distinction. If they are content with that and to keep his unbeaten streak going, that's fine. It's their prerogative. There is something to be said for winning. Fink said he was so confident before last year's BC Mile, because he knew the horse would do whatever he had to to win. For some owners, they wouldn't want to be that confident race after race, knowing their horse was going to win. Some would like to experience the thrill that uncertainty brings and savor a victory all the more because it wasn't a foregone conclusion. Again, each owner is different.



And to those who say Wise Dan has no shot in the Classic, on what is that based? He's a grade I winner at 1 1/8 miles on dirt and didn’t have the best of it over a dead, tiring racetrack in his head defeat to the Santa Anita Handicap winner in a grade I at 1 1/8 miles. And perhaps I’m wrong, but isn’t it possible Wise Dan is a better horse now than he was then, grass or no grass? We just don’t know for sure.The all-time greats do things other than what they do best. That's what makes them all-time greats. Sometimes you have to take chances to attain that.

That’s the final word on the subject, I promise. Best of luck to Wise Dan the rest of the year.  

OK, now that the Classic finally has said goodbye to Wise Dan, it is time to say hello to Successful Dan. The stage is all yours.

47 Comments

Leave a Comment:

Ranagulzion

A fit and ready Successful Dan will deputise just fine for Wise Dan on dirt as the latter puts American turf racing back on the front page.

A truly great turf horse should not play second fiddle to ordinary dirt runners IMO.

14 Aug 2013 6:03 PM
Big_Red_Always

I can't state strongly enough how appalled I am at these attempts to pressure Wise Dan's elderly owner to enter his horse in races Mr. Fink doesn't want to enter. Mr. Haskin, I generally enjoy your articles and respect you, but these last two pieces about Wise Dan are awful.

You start this one with an obvious -- ummm -- head fake. "There is no use commenting on Wise Dan and the Breeders’ Cup Classic any longer, although there is one final thought mentioned farther down, merely for the sake of history." Really? Then why does this become all about you midway through the article? "I must admit...part of my thinking is based on the fact that I cover the Classic...Is that selfish on my part to want to chronicle a potential history-making event?" You self-servingly answer your own question by saying it's not selfish. Then you repeat your claim that WD will not be considered a great gelding, let alone a great horse, unless Mr. Fink does what you (and others who follow leads such as yours) want him to do. Phooey!

So, Mr. Historian, remember the days when there were no grades on races and it was costly to fly horses around so they mostly followed a "home" circuit? That's how our most coveted stakes became, well, coveted. Year after year, top horses would compete for the big purses of their day in their own backyards or a train ride away. But they also ran in lesser stakes, many of which are now obscure and defunct. Just two examples: Man o' War ran in barely remembered stakes like the Grand Union Hotel, United States Hotel, Miller, and Potomac Hcp, mostly against rather ordinary competition, if he had competition at all. It wasn't the races he ran in, but the way he ran and won that made him a legend. Equipose ran in the Great American Stakes, Havre de Grace Hcp, Stars and Stripes Hcp, Wilson Stakes, and Dixie Hcp. There are many, many other examples.

Today, thanks largely to the internet where anyone with an opinion not only posts it, but does the equivalent of stomping their feet like small children if they don't get their way, people like Mr. Fink are pummeled for, yes, the selfish reasons of others. Leave the man alone to enjoy his horses as he wishes. As for WD, he's done more than enough make the Hall of Fame one day. If that doesn't qualify him as a great horse, then the Hall of Fame means nothing. More to the point, if he's denied a place in the Hall because people who want to "chronicle history" didn't get their way, that would make a mockery of everything Thoroughbred racing is supposed to be about.

14 Aug 2013 9:35 PM
The Deacon

Good points Steve, you've mentioned this a few times about Wise Dan. Does it irk you a little that the connections won't try him at 10 furlongs, just curious.

If it does, I certainly would concur.

Maybe he is JUST a miler.

Ghostzapper was a monster, best horse in my opinion in the last 10 years.

15 Aug 2013 3:15 AM
Steve Haskin

Big Red, how many times and in how many ways do I have to say I respect his decision. I may not agree with it, but that's what this blog is about -- opinions. I was expressing opinions in a historical reference. Your historical references, however, make no sense to me. I have no idea what point youre trying to make. Even the trainer said he wanted to run him on the dirt. And who is denying him entrance into the Hall of Fame? He is most assuredly a Hall of Fame cinch and I'll be the first to vote for him. Oh, yes, this column basically is about Successful Dan. Remember him?

15 Aug 2013 8:00 AM
Tiz Herself

If only one had the gift to foresee the future -- back in October 2010 I was at Keeneland when Successful Dan captured the Fayette Stakes. Later on in my holiday I would see Wise Dan in the post parade of the Breeders Cup Sprint. Just thinking where they are now never ceases to give me shivers. The 2010 Sprint also had another horse whom I had wished I had paid closer attention to (Kinsale King) Fast forward three years and correct me if I am wrong but both Dans have stayed around more than any horse who competed in those events. I love the gutsy geldings so much. Cannot wait to see their younger brother Casino Dan and their sister Enchanting Lisa!

15 Aug 2013 8:15 AM
Tiz Herself

Thanks Steve as always. As I said in earlier post I wish I had paid more attention to both 'Dans' when I saw them in 2010...

It is hard to forget Successful Dan, he is such a gritty horse (they both are) It would be every trainer's dream to have these two in their barn :)

BTW does anyone know where their stablemate Turallure is at? Haven't seen much on my VS or elsewhere.

15 Aug 2013 8:29 AM
Signal

When the real great turf horses like Gioponti and Cape blanco were running against every turf horse in the world nobody in the U.S. ever mention their name to be HOY.

Now we have johny come lately super hype horse that thier connection careful pick the an easy race to run like Woodbine Mile and Shadwell mile and all of the sudden he is a great horse.

There are two G1 race with big purse this weekend but he's not there, may be is to tough field.

All the talk about him go to the Royal Ascot is just the talk,

remember the strait to the finishing line is uphill, he still be at the bottom of the hill when the race finish.

If he DARE to enter in the Classic,

GAME ON DUDE will make him looks very ordinary.

15 Aug 2013 9:48 AM
Big_Red_Always

Steve, I most assuredly do not mean to disrespect or argue with you. However, what you said in your 8:00 AM response to me is simply not true. By your own words in the above article, it is not true. "The all-time greats do things other than what they do best. That's what makes them all-time greats. Sometimes you have to take chances to attain that." As for the column being about Successful Dan, six paragraphs are about him, while 15 paragraphs are about Wise Dan not being pointed to the BC Classic. As you said, it's opinion. Mine is leave the man alone to run his horse where he wants. He pays the bills. No one else. Oh, and my historical reference is on point whether or not it is acknowledged as such.

15 Aug 2013 10:55 AM
DebraZ

If this column is about Successful Dan, then why are there 14 paragraphs about trying to convince someone (?) that Wise Dan should be running in the BC Classic? I was trying to remember your points about Successful Dan, but too much about Wise Dan made it hard. Your blog is assuredly about your opinions. It also supposed to attract readers.

15 Aug 2013 12:06 PM
Valesa

Why does it have to be this Classic? Wise Dan is a gelding and may race for many more years. Although, he's probably at the best form of his life at this moment, his connections may have a change of heart next year, or the following... you get my point. At least his connections are taking him all over and letting the public have a glimpse of him. When they get tired of winning, they may decide to take him out of the comfort zone.

15 Aug 2013 12:41 PM
Vaduz

Dear Mr. Haskins: though I normally respect our opinion very much, I'm glad this is the last time you go on whith the Wise Dan matter. In fact, I feel it's a bit overdone already. Every time you write about this, you say you respect Mr. Fink's decision, but clearly you do not respect him (not the same thing) and you diminish Wise Dan's accomplishments. Not the 1st time either. Write more on SD if the column is titled about him, he has deserved it.

15 Aug 2013 1:01 PM
Karen in Indiana

Hi, Steve. So if Successful Dan won the Classic and Wise Dan won the Mile, would they be the first half-siblings to win in Breeders Cup races the same year?

15 Aug 2013 1:10 PM
Susan from VA

I certainly would not call Steve Haskin "anyone with an opinion."  He's a fantastic writer who brings the sport of horse racing to life and a great historian of said sport.

15 Aug 2013 1:30 PM
White Plains Eric

Agreed, deacon.  An absolute standout.  

15 Aug 2013 3:27 PM
Racingfan

Great article as usual Steve!  I for one would love to see BOTH Dan's in the Classic.  But if not, maybe it's time for Successful Dan to have his day in the sun.  Great points you made about stepping out of the comfort zone with the examples you gave.    As for you Big Red -  there are much greater things for you to be "appalled" about than this terrific article from Steve.  However, you are free to express your opinion just as Steve was free to express his and I am expressing mine.

15 Aug 2013 5:18 PM
greyghost

It appeared that this was a write up to showcase the attributes of Successful Dan. Instead it was a "what if" essay on Wise Dan. We would all like to see a strive for greatness whether it be man or beast. At the same time we must accept that this may not be the goal of some, that there are those among us that are content with their station and that of those that they oversee, in this case Wise Dan. A more cautious approach and not a roll of the dice could possibly be a condition of this owner's makeup in regard to life in general. It should not diminish the importance or accomplishments of Wise Dan. That is a problem for everyone else, not Mr. Fink. History will judge Wise Dan on the merits of his successes and failures to achieve what we deem as distinguishing himself from his ilk. I for one look forward to the two Dan's winning in their respective races at the Breeders Cup.

15 Aug 2013 6:44 PM
Big_Red_Always

Racingfan, perhaps people who cannot walk and chew gum at the same time also have difficulty using strong expressions regarding more than one thing at a time. By all means, the list of things to be appalled about in this weary world is a long one. That in no way prevents me from disagreeing strongly with the pressure being brought to bear on Mr. Fink simply because he chooses to run his horse when and where he pleases.

15 Aug 2013 9:42 PM
forego9

I enjoyed the parts of the article that were about Successful Dan. I just wish the focus had remained on him instead of the concentration shifting to Wise Dan for such a large chunk of this piece. While I love Wise Dan, here he again  overshadows his brother. I came out of this with a sensation of "Wise Dan did this, but why didn't he do this other more interesting stuff instead?" rather than a celebratory "Yay, Successful Dan!" feel. Wise Dan is fine just the way he is, and so is Successful Dan, who really does deserve his own article.

15 Aug 2013 10:57 PM
ksweatman9

If they want to keep Wise Dan on turf and not stretch him out to run the classic distances, why not take him across the pond to really test his brilliance? As for the BC Classic, I have all the faith in the world that Danny boy would prove himself a worthy contender. However, my faith in the horse doesn't mean squat. I think winning the mile against top Euro ponies would be almost as rewarding. I won't second guess the reason why Wise Dan is being steered away from the classic. Both Dan's are very nice horses. That would be quite something if big brother did end up winning the classic. The fun and surprises never stop in this game. I wish both horses the best. Owners and trainers need some of that fearless thoroughbred heart that their champion horses possess. The horse is all guts, just line them up, and he'll try to run them down. I used to laugh when people would make it sound like Zenyatta was afraid to run against stiffer competition. That big mare wasn't afraid of any horse. She would've ran against Secretariat with all of her heart. People shouldn't sell Wise Dan short because of decisions his connections make. Like a champion, he would relish the opportunity to run down the best on any surface at any distance, too bad he won't get the chance this year.

16 Aug 2013 1:53 AM
Steve Haskin

forego9, you're absolutely right. I should have have stuck with Successful Dan. I just didnt know what else there was to say, and I thought my historical references to the the three great geldings was so brilliant I couldnt resist putting it in (that's a joke, folks). But in retrospect, I probably should have left Wise Dan out of it. Again, I do respect Fink, but disagreeing with his decision, or better still, wishing he would have tried the dirt, has nothing to do with respect. Remember, the trainer did say he wanted to try him on dirt this year, so it's not really far-fetched to agree with him.

16 Aug 2013 9:44 AM
Pedigree Ann

Why run Forego in races like the Nassau County and Vosburgh? It is called 'prepping,' something modern trainers seem to have forgotten. After the Woodward on 28September, he needed something to keep him fit for the Jockey Club Gold Cup on 9November, and the 7f Vosburgh (G2 only) was the race at the right time. No trainer worth his sale would run a horse a distance of ground off of a 6 week layoff without a prep in those days.

16 Aug 2013 10:12 AM
Pedigree Ann

P. S. to my last.

Sometimes, the old-time trainers WOULD run an older horse off of long layoff, like Whittingham did with Cougar II in the 1973 Santa Anita H. (no races since Oak Tree). But The Bald Eagle did use another old standby to get him fit - the workout between the races in the afternoon. The horse thinks it is going in a race so is ready to run fast, but he wouldn't get any extra weight in the Big Event from winning another race.

16 Aug 2013 10:32 AM
JerseyBoy

What would Wise Dan gain by running on dirt? I say he would gain nothing at all. This is because I measure the greatness of a horse today, by his chances of getting on the Timeform All-Time Highweights List.

To get on the list a horse has to be ranked at least 135 by Timeform. This is the reason horses such as Zarkava, Goldkiva, Zenyatta, Rachel Alexander and Galileo did not make the list. They were top-class but not great. Who made the list since it was expanded to include North America horses? Cigar, Gentlemen and Ghostzapper.

Wise Dan is currently ranked 134 by Timeform. No US horse is ranked within 3 pounds of him. If he runs on dirt and wins the Classic, he would gain nothing in terms of his Timeform ranking unless he blows the field away, something he could do on grass at weight-for-age.

Here are the top 6 according to Timeform, July 1, 2013:

134 WISE DAN

130 FORT LARNED

129 GAME ON DUDE

128 ANIMAL KINGDOM

128 GROUPIE DOLL

128 POINT OF ENTRY          

16 Aug 2013 10:43 AM
Azeri1

I respect Mr. Fink and appreciate his cautious nature. I would prefer that he run his geldings with discernment and not push them towards breakdowns. We were really lucky with Cigar and Commentator and other great campaigning geldings.  I can name lists of others whose fate wasn't as rosy. The true legacy of the turf horse gets more respect in France and Australia than it does in the US.  Even with my preference for caution, I totally understand the enthusiasm and earnest wishes for expanding upon greatness but appreciate Mr. Fink just as he is. His horses aren't named Wise and Successful for no particularly good reason. Here's hoping that Mr. Fink and his cautious nature allow him to enjoy both Dans as retired racers enjoying their well-deserved pastures as grand old men.    

16 Aug 2013 10:44 AM
steve from st louis

There are so many nuances regarding the particular campaigns of racehorses about which the public may have no idea. Second guessing Steve Haskin's take on any throughbred's campaign is a fool's game. The racing literati is there to discuss and publicize the game and opinion is an arrow in any writer's quiver. No applogies are necessary for any  opinion.

16 Aug 2013 11:11 AM
Daniel Jividen

There is one aspect of this story that is entirely noncontroversial.  Morton Fink's broodmare Lisa Danielle,  dam of both Successful Dan and Wise Dan,  deserved her Broodmare of the Year award as much as any mare ever has.

16 Aug 2013 11:34 AM
Ivan John

That's why Steve is a writer and not a horseman. Did he ever stop to think they are thinking of the horse and not their egos. Wise Dan may be physically maxed out at 1 1/8 mile, and to push him farther could stain him so bad it could end his career. Maybe the story is more important to Steve than the horse. We do need to break down another great horse to appease writers like Steve! Why not write about the greatest Miler of modern history, Frankel never showed up at the Breeder's Cup because Wise Dan was going to be there.(Now that's a story).

16 Aug 2013 11:43 AM
fastestfilly

Wow.  I couldn't resist leaving a comment this time Mr. Haskin, if only to show my support for you and your writing.  I try to read everything you write for Bloodhorse because you are one of the few, very few, horseracing writers I enjoy.  Your writing is picturesque and heart-felt.  You write as one who not only has the eloquence to bring a story to life, but someone with great respect and love for horses and the sport of horseracing.  I get what you are saying, and I agree.  As fans of the sport, of course we want great horses to strive for the stars, and there should be nothing wrong with saying it (even if we sometimes sound like a broken record!)  Expressing that opinion does not in any way diminish the accomplishments of the horse or disrespect the connections.  Too many people don't understand that differences of opinion are just that...differences.  Heck, every time Zenyatta ran, I thought over and over, why don't they run her against the boys or on turf or anything challenging?  Just because they didn't doesn't mean I think less of her or her connections, but I still wish they would have.  I don't understand why so many people seem to be taking offense to such thoughts.

Anyway, this is much longer than I normally would write, but I just got so aggravated reading so much intense negative reaction that I had to voice my kudos to you!  I read your articles because I'm interested in your opinions, and even when I don't agree with you, I still love an respect your writing.  Thank you for another great one!

16 Aug 2013 12:24 PM
Steve Haskin

Ivan john, surely your comments arent meant to be serious. Please read it over -- "We do need to break down another great horse to appease writers like Steve!" - and see how totally absurd and foolish they sound.

Fastestfilly, thank you very much. your kind words are most appreciated. I dont mind anyone disagreeing with me; that's part of what this forum is all about, as long the comments make sense and sound relatively sane.

16 Aug 2013 3:28 PM
Racingfan

Fastestfilly:  Well Said!  Thank you! My thoughts as well!  I do not appreciate the negativity toward Steve that I have been reading in the comments! If anyone does not like the topic of an article they are free to not read it. And you are correct that expressing an opinion does not diminish the accomplishments or disrespect the connections.  Funny that so many are taking offense on the Wise Dan subject but many many people couldn't get enough of knocking Zenyatta and her connections, including saying she was not "great" and did not deserve Horse of the Year.  Big Red:  didn't really understand your comment but it sounded a bit personal - do you know me?

16 Aug 2013 5:18 PM
Ranagulzion

JerseyBoy 16 Aug 2013 10:43 AM

Excellent post. I appreciate the Timeform rating perspective very much. Steve should take note that there are other widely acclaimed  ways to measure a great race horse apart from the Breeders Cup paradigm.

16 Aug 2013 9:20 PM
Pedigree Ann

Azeri -

Cigar was not a gelding. He was an entire horse who proved infertile when trying to breed. Some other great horses have had that problem - Precisionist got 4 foals from 40+ matings in his first and only crop; Triple Crown winner Assualt never got a single foal, nor did 2yo champion Top Knight.

17 Aug 2013 9:10 AM
TripleCrownKaren

OK.....I just HAVE to put in my 2 cents on this particular blog!    Number 1....GET OVER IT people....this is STEVE HASKIN'S BLOG!    Yes it is meant to provoke thought (assuming you HAVE that capacity) and NO you will not always agree with everything he says, but GOOD LORD!   This is not Rocket Science!   Steve has probably forgotten more about this sport and it's stars than most of you even KNOW, so bottom line is....he has the knowledge, the years of experience in this business and is......GET THIS.....RESPECTED industry wide!  

As for his equine knowledge, I daresay he knows a hell of a lot more than the average race goer and some owners I could mention.    

Number 2.....This is meant to prompt discussion and SHARING of various opinions.    I fail to see how INSULTING Steve accomplishes anything constructive.    If you really don't LIKE what you are seeing you have the right NOT to continue reading it.    That's one of the many "freedoms" we have in this country of ours.

As a life long lover of this sport and its "stars" I can appreciate Steve's historical perspective on the sport and it's participants.  I would never attempt to assume that my opinion was better or "correct" compared to his......it is afterall an OPINION and everyone HAS one.   Just some of us can express it without being disrespectful and insulting.

Sorry to go on Steve, but this just got my back up!    

17 Aug 2013 9:36 AM
ksweatman9

Yesterday a bird swooped down in front of my car and my thoughts somehow turned to Ruffian and that fateful moment in time. Sadness swept over me and then I started thinking about the concept of another match race, but who? We can no longer look to Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra to give us a match made in heaven, so who could pull it off in 2013? Today I read your articles and Little Mike's connections want to take Wise Dan out on a date for two. Ain't that something? Sounds like fun to me. This sport needs a shot of crazy to get it going. Little Mike and Wise Dan, sure. Why not?

17 Aug 2013 9:45 AM
Big_Red_Always

@TripleCrownKaren: In my opinion, Steve is the equal of, and in someways better than, the legendary Charles Hatton. People who really know the sport's history will understand this compliment. That's why the above piece is so disappointing. The Steve Haskin I've read for many years is better than this article.

@ksweatman9: Ironic you should think of Ruffian in this context. It sure sounded like fun to match the filly against the Derby winner. There were egos to be stroked and money to be made or lost. The horses didn't have a say in the matter -- and the sport has never recovered from the moment when Ruffian's leg shattered. That was the first breakdown of a champion horse on national TV. Yeah, right. Such fun. The saddest thing of all is that the sport didn't learn a thing, so we've witnessed other televised breakdowns in the years since. Puts me in mind more of ancient Roman circuses than the modern USA in 2013.

All Mr. Fink is trying to do is take care of his horses and enjoy them in ways he thinks best. I, for one, applaud him for not feeding the lions.

17 Aug 2013 1:16 PM
Signal

Some people who pretend to be the expert said something so rediculous

like Wise Dan should go to the Ascot to thumb those Europian.

Wow what a joke!!!

I heard the owner fo Little Mike

already come calling for a match

race with the syper hype HOY.

and Little Mike is here, let's see

if he gets the return call.

17 Aug 2013 2:00 PM
JohnNYC

Steve, I implore you to ignore and not waste any energy on the trolls who were desperate enough to critique your commentary. You very eloquently yet directly stated that the door is closed on Wise Dan's aspirations for the BC Classic while respectfully explaining the owner's psyche and pointing out the success of others who took a more daring path. Trolls want only to sling mud and contradict- they are not intelligent or even decent enough to disagree with elan or respect. Your balanced commentary on the half-brothers Dan was thoughtful, informative even to veterans, and appropriately respectful to Mr. Fink. Thanks for your continued prolific efforts!

17 Aug 2013 2:38 PM
Steve Haskin

Thanks, John, I appreciate that, but it's no sweat. you're always going to get people who read into things what they want to. You said everything perfectly that I would have said to them if I thought it would get through. When you write an opinion piece (and this last one really wasnt much of an opinion piece as much as a historical reference), you have to expect disgreements and an occasioan irrational comment. Did you notice that no one, or hardly anyone, had any desire to comment on Successful Dan, who was the headline and the whole opening part of the column. Anyway, thanks again, but those comments amuse me more than anything else. See you at the Spa.

And Karen, thank you very much for your comments as well. That was very nice of you. Big Red, I appreciate the Charlie Hatton comparison, but no one was or is in Charlie's league as a writer. He was a Rembrandt with a typewriter. 

17 Aug 2013 4:14 PM
Bethany Loftis

Fastestfilly- you said it best!!!! Ivan has obviously no idea as to who Steve Haskin really is, and certainly has no clue of his contributions to this great sport!

Pedigree Ann- Assault managed to get two AQHA registered foals when he was turned out on the King Ranch, yet sired no thoroughbreds.

Steve- thanks again for all you do as well as your wonderful stories! Wishing Fink and the Dans the best of luck!!!

17 Aug 2013 7:29 PM
Davids

JerseyBoy and Ranagulzion, I didn't realize that anyone took much notice of Timeform's, and her twin sister, IFHA's ratings of US horses. Moreover, both publications seem so Eurocentric and biased toward European runners

I could never understand how it was possible to rate a dirt horse against a turf horse in the first place. Especially when the horses would never compete against each other for obvious reasons. It is hard enough rating European horses that prefer soft going to fast on the turf, who is better?

I think that is why Steve has been 'contemplating' a Wise Dan dirt race - unless the horses actually run against each other its just subjective speculation.

Would Frankel have beaten Sea Bird?  

17 Aug 2013 9:36 PM
Ranagulzion

Signal,

Did you seriously think that Little Mike is in Wise Dan's league? LM is a very good horse on his best day but he's inconsistent and his Arlington Million performance did nothing to recommend him. Try again my friend. Watch for Successful Dan in the Woodward ...I tell you one thing, if he remains sound he'll be the top older horse on dirt in America.

17 Aug 2013 9:46 PM
Paula Higgins

O.k. Zoloft for everyone. Only kidding. But seriously, no one is trying to pressure Wise Dan's owner and trainer to do anything, eve if that were possible, which I doubt. I certainly do not get that from reading Steve's piece. He is expressing his opinion and it is a valid one at that. I agree with it. Step outside the box  and see what Wise Dan can do. I bet he would win.

18 Aug 2013 1:08 AM
ksweatman9

Big Red Always, my mention of "fun" was directed at the thought of a match race today, perhaps with the likes of Little Mike and Wise Dan. When I think of Ruffian,sadness sweeps over me remembering that tragic moment in time. Most people can read, but few people understand what they are reading. One more thing, the way Ruffian ran, with all her heart, not wanting to relinquish the lead for a second, that breakdown could've happened at any time, in any race. Babies are born only to die before their first birthday, children are cursed with cancer, and beautiful thoroughbreds break down and never get up again. Take it up with God.

18 Aug 2013 10:03 AM
Linda in Texas

You know Steve loves a great race.

After all he is the best sports writer of any sport and he happens to be the best sports writer of my favorite sport. Given his history and longevity at it, i think he has earned his right to make his opines and thoughts known. And he is right. You know, we spend more time 'wondering' about races that never happened as much or more as we do about those that did. With that said, a great horse race is a terrible thing to waste/lose and pardon me as i steal a phrase.

Mr. Haskin of all people has the utmost respect for his elders. Yours truly included regardless of what i say. Mr. And Mrs. Fink are dear people and Steve was not dissing them or their horses. I don't think i have ever read a word about a horse Steve did not like, maybe about one who would bite but that is about as negative as he gets and that is understandable, hard to write without an index finger!

Now to the Winning Sire of The Day, cannot say of the year because there are Malibu Moon and Giant's Causeway and several others in my opinion. But Congratulations to Kitten's Joy - so glad i was able to see all 3 races and convinced Mr. Ramsey is serious about his horses and his races. And for anyone who may disagree in the disqualification of My Apache, i saw at least 3 if not 4 bumps in the head on shots of the race. BUT it was not the The Apache's fault. This time it was the jockey i am sorry to say. Each strike of  the stick The Apache veered a bit more. Finally, after it was too late, the jockey reined him over but the damage had been done.

And not to forget The Winning Dams, Reachinforthestars and Reachinforthe heavens and Spent Gold!

So Congrats to The Ramsey Clan and especially to the caregivers of the horses, then the trainers and jockeys. And hopefully Kitten's Joy is at the top of the list for treats in his pail every evening.

I think the Ramsey's are on to something with him. :) Mr. Ramsey needs to keep the smelling salts  close by as that was some kind of 'day at the office.' It is Sunday morning and i bet he is pinching himself as i type this.

And Thanks HRTV.com for Zoe, Gentleman John White (who yesterday stated that Man O'War was the greatest thoroughbred race horse ever and i so agree), Richard Migliore, Mr. Siegel, Aaron and Peter, et al. Great day at the races.

And thanks Steve. You are the best.

18 Aug 2013 11:00 AM
Linda in Texas

You know Steve loves a great race.

After all he is the best sports writer of any sport and he happens to be the best sports writer of my favorite sport. Given his history and longevity at it, i think he has earned his right to make his opines and thoughts known. And he is right. You know, we spend more time 'wondering' about races that never happened as much or more as we do about those that did. With that said, a great horse race is a terrible thing to waste/lose and pardon me as i steal a phrase.

Mr. Haskin of all people has the utmost respect for his elders. Yours truly included regardless of what i say. Mr. And Mrs. Fink are dear people and Steve was not dissing them or their horses. I don't think i have ever read a word about a horse Steve did not like, maybe about one who would bite but that is about as negative as he gets and that is understandable, hard to write without an index finger!

Now to the Winning Sire of The Day, cannot say of the year because there are Malibu Moon and Giant's Causeway and several others in my opinion. But Congratulations to Kitten's Joy - so glad i was able to see all 3 races and convinced Mr. Ramsey is serious about his horses and his races. And for anyone who may disagree in the disqualification of My Apache, i saw at least 3 if not 4 bumps in the head on shots of the race. BUT it was not the The Apache's fault. This time it was the jockey i am sorry to say. Each strike of  the stick The Apache veered a bit more. Finally, after it was too late, the jockey reined him over but the damage had been done.

And not to forget The Winning Dams, Reachinforthestars and Reachinforthe heavens and Spent Gold!

So Congrats to The Ramsey Clan and especially to the caregivers of the horses, then the trainers and jockeys. And hopefully Kitten's Joy is at the top of the list for treats in his pail every evening.

I think the Ramsey's are on to something with him. :) Mr. Ramsey needs to keep the smelling salts  close by as that was some kind of 'day at the office.' It is Sunday morning and i bet he is pinching himself as i type this.

And Thanks HRTV.com for Zoe, Gentleman John White (who yesterday stated that Man O'War was the greatest thoroughbred race horse ever and i so agree), Richard Migliore, Mr. Siegel, Aaron and Peter, et al. Great day at the races.

And thanks Steve. You are the best.

18 Aug 2013 11:00 AM
JerseyBoy

Davids:

Timeform ranks the horses. I have no issue with their work. In fact, I agree with Timeform.

They rank the horse’s performance whether it is on dirt or grass and I accept it.

By the way, they have Wise Dan ranked # 3 in the world. See below.

You asked  “Would Frankel have beaten Sea Bird?”

Yes, Frankel would have crushed Sea Bird at a mile. Grey Dawn beat Sea Bird.

Timeform Top 5 rankings worldwide, July 3, 2013:

BLACK CAVIAR   136

CIRRUS DES AIGLES  135

WISE DAN  134

FARHH  132

GOLD SHIP  131

18 Aug 2013 1:22 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Now this is just dandy. I come here for a little peace and quiet and find myself in a quagmire of dissension and controversy, so I hope I can clear it all up.

   Morton Fink, the owner of both Successful Dan and Wise Dan, is a very successful and wise man. The decision to enter Successful Dan  in The Classic and Wise Dan in the BC Turf Mile will be a very wise and successful decison indeed if both win their races. Dan the torpedoes full speed ahead and may they return safely.

18 Aug 2013 3:53 PM

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