Wise Dan Great, Period

The Breeders’ Cup, especially this year’s edition, is so difficult on the wallet, especially mine, which is never exactly bulging with cash. But I finally discovered a way to come out ahead, which I mentioned in my Friday column.

It was so simple even a brainless handicapper like myself can figure it out in just four little words – Wise Dan/all/all. That trifecta wheel was money in the bank. I had written several weeks ago that Wise Dan would never be beaten at a mile on the grass. The reasoning was simple: There isn’t a horse in the world he can’t catch and there isn’t a horse in the world that can catch him. You can’t get things any simpler and easier than that.

But wagering aside, there was a certain aspect of the Breeders’ Cup Mile I found sad, and it got me thinking. It really is a shame our milers are not revered the way they are in Europe. Sure, Wise Dan received the ultimate respect last year by being named Horse of the Year, and he will repeat this year, likely in a landslide. But titles are confined to the isolated world of racing. And in each of the last two years, there has not been anyone at the end of the year to challenge Wise Dan for the sport’s greatest honor, which also is sad. It’s been Wise Dan vs. Game On Dude going into the Breeders’ Cup and twice it’s been no contest.

When you mention Frankel, you think great horse before great miler. When you mention Goldikova, you think great horse before great miler. The reason is that Europe has a Champion Miler award, and they even have classics run at a mile – the English, Irish, and French Guineas. In addition to the classics, they have such prestigious group I races as the Queen Anne Stakes and St. James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot, Sussex Stakes, Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, Lockinge Stakes, Prix Jacques le Marois, Prix du Moulin, and Prix Jean Prat, not to mention a number of group I mile events for fillies. Those are some of the greatest races in Europe, regardless of distance.

In America, we have the Met Mile and Cigar Mile on dirt, and grade I races like the Shoemaker Mile, Woodbine Mile, and Shadwell Turf Mile on grass. How many people, especially casual racing fans, really get very excited about those grass miles?

Those are the races in which Wise Dan runs every year; no fault of his own. That is what is available for him. I had been pushing for Wise Dan to run in the Classic or another major grade I race on the dirt, only because I thought he deserved the opportunity to be considered a great horse before a great grass miler. But the truth is, Wise Dan IS a great horse first and foremost, and the closest thing we’ve seen to an unbeatable (male) horse in a long time. He has found his niche in life, dominated it like none before him, and is no less a great horse than milers Frankel and Goldikova and sprinter Black Caviar.

It is the owner and trainer’s decision to keep him where he is that has them taking home trophies the past two years, and there is nothing wrong with that. Although I would still love to see him elevate his status to “great horse” in the eyes of the historians and skeptics, and believe he can accomplish that because of his rare talents, I no longer pursue that goal for him, because there is something beautiful about seeing a horse win race after race and do so in such machine-like fashion. It’s hard not to enjoy watching an athlete, whether human or animal, strip away all the complexities of life in the competitive arena, and transform themselves into something as simple as a machine that is programmed to function at the highest level day after day.

That is why I was counting my money before the Mile, unconcerned with the competition. I was not looking at Wise Dan as a horse, but a machine, just as I knew my car would start that morning by turning the ignition key. Just as I knew my air conditioner would go on in my hotel room.

I always worried about Zenyatta, because she came from so far out of it and there was always the danger of a good horse getting out there and stealing the race from her. I always worried about Rachel Alexandra, because there was always the danger of a classy speed horse cooking her on the front end and setting it up for a closer. With Wise Dan, those fears never existed, because of his incredible engine that generates so much power, regardless of where he is running in a race. He could be second or seventh; it doesn’t matter. I wasn’t worried when he was back in seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, farther off the pace than usual. When you’re not worried about a horse or the scenario of a race, you’re dealing with something special.

Perhaps it is time for American racing to institute a champion miler Eclipse Award for those horses who must depend on the Classic division or even the Filly & Mare division to collapse come Breeders’ Cup time in order to be considered for Horse of the Year. Let’s face it, had Game On Dude won the Classic he would taken home the award. We can start by coming up with new, lucrative mile races and adding to the purses of the existing ones. Have a Mile Triple Crown that, like Canada’s Triple Crown, is comprised of both dirt and grass races. Or an all dirt Triple Crown or all grass Triple Crown, perhaps with bonus incentives. If milers are the most sought after stallions, why do we not give them an opportunity to excel at a mile over the course of the year and on a large scale?

As thrilling as it was to watch Wise Dan storm down the Santa Anita stretch, as he did at Churchill Downs, Saratoga, and Woodbine this year, in the back of my mind I still can’t help wanting to see him elevate himself to that next plateau just once, if only to attain the greatness that would stamp his place in history, along with the John Henrys and Round Tables. But his connections are looking strictly at the present and which races give the horse the best chance to win. And it is that thinking that will land him back-to-back Horse of the Year titles.

Trainer Charlie LoPresti had indicated a desire to run him on dirt this year, but owner Morton Fink was content to see him continue to do what he’s been doing. So, for now at least, it looks as if his victory in the grade I Clark Handicap and head defeat in the Stephen Foster on dirt will have to suffice, unless they decide to just have some fun with him next year. Would he still be fast enough to win a race like the Met Mile? A Met Mile—BC Mile double would be historic for sure; the ultimate in versatility, speed, and class. Look how fast everyone has forgotten his defeat on Keeneland’s wet Polytrack.

In the meantime, I will not give that another second of thought. It’s not up to me to be concerned how history treats Wise Dan. I only know I saw greatness last Saturday; unconditional greatness. I turned on the switch and the machine went on…again.


Leave a Comment:

Past The Grandstand

Thank you for yet another fantastic piece, Mr. Haskin. Like you, I hope that Wise Dan reaps more recognition than he already has, as he truly is a great horse and deserves respect. He is such a special horse to me and I am blessed to have spent so much time with him at the Breeders' Cup. Here's to more success for this outstanding horse and his connections!


06 Nov 2013 8:40 PM
Mary McLeod


GREAT writing, as always!!! I will always think Zenyatta underestimated how long it would take her to reach Blame.

Wise Dan…what a man!!! I think he likes to toy with them just like Zenyatta, my Secretariat (until he decided the heck with this, let me show you), and others.

I love Wise Dan. Are his critics unhappy he is a gelding?!?! That was not his decision.

He has done what his humans have asked…Why should he be punished…Give him HOY that he worked hard for…although he did not know he was doing so.


Mary in Boone

06 Nov 2013 9:08 PM

Steve, my racing buddies & I have lamented for yrs that turf horses get no respect in North America. And those turf milers! Wow. One of my all time favorite horses is Lure. I have a treasured picture of me with him at Ashford from 2002. The groom (Larry) couldn't believe I came all the way from Toronto so see him. Goldikova? Thrilling to watch. Frankel? Incredible. My friend has watched War Chants Mile win so many times that the tape is worn out. I'm in for an Eclipse for Milers!  We went for both of Dans Woodbine Mile wins. To see him in the flesh-wow! Muscle upon muscle. There is an aura about him, his expression in the paddock is hard to put into words. He damn well knows he's number 1. Why do dirt horses not have to prove themselves on grass for HOY consideration but grass horses are slammed if they don't try the dirt. Tx for being in Wise Dans corner. He's surely HOY.

06 Nov 2013 9:21 PM
Tiz Herself

Never had a doubt or lost faith in Wise Dan - others did but not me. With so many horses retired for next year - knowing that he's going to be back gives a fan something to look forward to - seen on FB too that Goldencents is coming back and welcome back to Normandy Invasion - cannot wait to see what his four year old campaign has in store!

Thank you Steve for doing Wise Dan justice - the perfect pick me up with 30 cm of snow outside is reading your articles :)

06 Nov 2013 9:40 PM
Steve Haskin

Mary, no one is punishing Wise Dan. He will be Horse of the Year back to back years.

Pioneer Country, I also loved Lure, especially in his first BC Mile, but remember, he was more than a miler. He won several big stakes farther than a mile and had some great rivalries with Star of Cozzene and then Paradise Creek. Dirt horse dont have to prove themselves on grass, because dirt is America's primary surface, where all our classics are run. Grass horses really arent slammed if they dont try the dirt. The critics of Wise Dan didnt like him running in the same races every year. I only would have wanted him to run in a big dirt race because he's already won a grade I over dirt and to put him in a category with some of the all-time greats who excelled on both surfaces. But I'm enjoying him now, period.

06 Nov 2013 9:42 PM
Tiz Herself

Is unlikely - but would love to see Wise Dan take on Europe's best over there and see how he does .... he'd probably like the straight miles. Nonetheless, a great, gutsy gelding and he is one of the four leggeds that has picked me up after a year of losses (which includes passing of my uncle, grandpa, step-grandma, and my 13 year old dog)... you helped too Steve, reading your work gives a person so much inspiration.

Cannot wait to see more from New Year's Day!

06 Nov 2013 9:45 PM
Paula Higgins

I could not agree more Steve! Wise Dan is a great horse. I have been saying that for awhile, even when everyone was claiming that he raced against average competition etc. (Dejavu allover again -Zenyatta) I knew he would win the BC mile. He is a very special horse and he should be horse of the year. I do not usualy put milers in the same category as the classic distance horses, but there are exceptions due to their dominance and obvious greatness. Wise Dan is one of them. I think he could easily go longer without any problem. I would loved to have seen Wise Dan race against Frankel. I think if any horse could have beaten him, it would have been Wise Dan. John Henry was a horse that could do it all and ran at a time when they dared greatly and ran the table. Zenyatta and Rachel Aleandra racing against the boys were also examples of horses whose owners and trainers took risks. But you don't see it often. While I understand their desire to put Wise Dan in races that give him the best chance for a win, I wish Mr. Fink would think about a mile and a quarter if they keep racing him into 2014.

06 Nov 2013 9:55 PM

So glad you are as you said 'enjoying him now, period'! I'll admit I was miffed at you in an earlier blog wanting him to run in the Classic (you stated your case, we simply disagreed):)  I applaud Mr's Lopresti & Fink for sticking to their guns and not getting caught up in the pressure. More important to them was running him at his preferred distance & surface.  I was crushed watching Dan lose in the Shadwell 'synthetic Mile' but more so because he couldn't close on that day.  It really bugged me when people were so quick to say he's maybe lost a step or two. Loved Mr Lopresti's comments after BC.  

Steve, you never come to Woodbine for the Mile! It's a quick flight from Newark to Toronto. You really need to come!  I even promise to buy you lunch!

06 Nov 2013 10:31 PM
lunar spook



07 Nov 2013 8:10 AM
Don from PA/DE

Kudos , once again SH.

07 Nov 2013 8:53 AM
Love 'em all

I'll start off by saying, I remember when the word "period" used to mean something.  Oh well, current events tell us otherwise, but 'those were the days'.  However, I do believe Mr. Haskin when he says "period".  That, I want to make perfectly clear, period.

WD's soggy defeat by Silver Max never bothered me.  I just wished they had scratched him!  Wise Dan lives up to his name; he's a very wise horse.  Sounded like he wasn't happy going in the gate that day, which is not the usual Dan  .... and had been seen standing in water over his hooves just before the race (well, that's what I read somewhere).  Wise Dan was not a happy horse that day ... but he did what he was supposed to do.  Besides, the Firecracker was probably still fresh in his mind!  One more thing, I still say WD can outrun Animal Kingdom, if given another chance, like he did last year, and I mean no disrespect to the very talented AK.  Wise Dan did not get the respect he deserved after last year's BC win.  Gelding?  Probably.  

Thanks to WD's connections, he has been one of the easiest racehorses to fall in love with and will be loved his entire life, because he really did come first.  My sincere thanks to all WD's connections.  Being a big beautiful chestnut didn't hurt him any either!  What is it about those chestnuts?  Thumbs up to Lisa Danielle and Wiseman's Ferry!  They gave us a winner!

Wonderful article, Mr. Haskin.  You've been very fair to Wise Dan.  

07 Nov 2013 9:00 AM

Steve, I agreed with you earlier in the year when you wished the connections would broaden Wise Dan's horizons, and yet I agree even more strongly now that we should not only enjoy but revere him for what he is. As I watched him pull up after the race all I could think was, why in the world would anyone ever want to see Wise Dan do anything else? And a few of the great milers of the past flashed through my mind, most notably Goldikova and Miesque, who brought so many great moments to American racing. I don't recall a sentiment that they should be pushed outside their comfort zone to compete on different surfaces or at longer distances. We were thrilled by their stretch runs and celebrated them even though they were specialists. I sincerely hope that Mr. Fink continues to enjoy his horse as he sees fit. If that means watching him win the same races next year then so be it, I for one can't wait!

07 Nov 2013 9:01 AM
J Flora

The only thing that stands between Wise Dan and greatness is our perception of it.  That is our problem, not theirs.  He has overcome adversity, excelled, and clearly loves his job.  It would be a shame to miss the beauty of that when it is right before us.

07 Nov 2013 9:21 AM

Thank you, Steve, for so beautifully expressing what my mind and heart have felt but I don't have the words to say it.  Wise Dan is a great horse. Period.  The whole world was just all over how great Frankel was and he always ran mile races, so maybe it isn't just the distance that counts, it's the class the horse exhibits in that race - the adversity overcome or something like that.  See, I still don't know how to say it right, but the bottom line is - thank you for another wonderful blog posting!  You're the best!!

07 Nov 2013 9:49 AM
Steve Haskin

J Flora, that was beautifully put.

07 Nov 2013 9:54 AM

If you really take a good look on Wise Dan,look at his face he will show you how much he is enjoying the race.Especially the race in Canada you could see John just guiding him no whip and he went 1;31 and change and that horse face will tell you everything he was enjoying himself.On the other hand the race in Keeneland even John hiiting him with the whip he was showing that he did not like that surface.This is one smart & champion horse

07 Nov 2013 10:00 AM

Another awesome article, Steve.  Why do we require great turf horses and fillies to "prove" their greatness by stepping outside their division?  We don't insist 1 1/4m. dirt horses test their mettle on grass or in sprints.  But back to the graet Wise Dan, why doesn't anybody remember his *sensational* win on polytrack early last year in the Ben Ali?  Or his big win (2001) and narrow loss (2012) in the Stephen Foster on dirt?  He's already proved himself not only consistent, not only great, but remarkably versatile, as far as I'm concerned.  And those versatile horses that can do it all are the kind I like best.

07 Nov 2013 10:11 AM

Steve a better bet would have been first two finishers from Woodbine Mile the best mile in North America on the best turf course!

07 Nov 2013 10:31 AM
Bloodline Bob

Steve, I heard you tell us that WISE DAN would not lose again this year before the BC. I then proceeded to try and beat your prediction of the GREAT GELDING that Mr. Morton Fink owns. I have respect for yours + Mr. Fink's many years in this business. I went with Silentio. When I bet BC races, I do not like to bet on geldings or bloodlines that are not in the top 100 on a regular basis such as Wiseman's Ferry-Wolf Power. Some day i'll listen to you but congratulations on your pick.

07 Nov 2013 10:46 AM
steve from st louis

Steve, you expressed the greatness of Wise Dan best with your brilliant observation: "When you're not worried about a horse or the scenario of a race, you're dealing with something special."

Other than Wise Dan, my second  thought was Secretariat's move around Pimlico's opening clubhouse turn, gunning from last to first in the space of 220 yards. You weren't worried; you were in awe.

07 Nov 2013 11:30 AM

Steve, thank you for another heartfelt opine.  I was in awe just seeing Wise Adan's breeze at Santa Anita, plain & simple!  A sight to behold!

07 Nov 2013 11:35 AM
Stellar Jayne


From your lips, as spoken on ATO and your excellent analysis of respect for Wise Dan and his accomplishments on the turf at a mile regardless of venue - to the racing's powers that be and his owner.  Perhaps pounding away on this point might wake up those who can't see the nose on their face.

07 Nov 2013 11:54 AM

I loved the title of this article, Mr. Haskin. It sums up Wise Dan perfectly.

I never lost faith in this horse. It is amazing how quickly some people will rush to judgement when a horse loses a race. If I would have believed some of the rumors, I would have thought that Wise Dan had just a few days to live. He is a great horse, no matter what naysayers like lunar spook say. Let him get a racehorse and have it be as successful as Wise Dan, and maybe then he'll have some credibility.

I enjoy the turf races and I love watching how the Euros run. Since so many breeders here seem to breed for speed and precociousness, I am surprised that there aren't more graded mile races, on all surfaces.

Loved this article. You did well by Wise Dan and his connections, Mr. Haskin.

07 Nov 2013 12:04 PM
Karen in Texas

Thank you for a wonderfully characterizing Wise Dan, a horse that has become, quite simply, an American treasure!

07 Nov 2013 12:31 PM
Mike Relva

Lunar Spook

Your anti-Wise Dan serves as a vehicle for obviously gaining much needed attention.

07 Nov 2013 12:36 PM
Bill Two

This horse really does have machine -like consistency.  It amazes me how he does that race after race against all comers.  That's as good an indication of greatness as any I guess

07 Nov 2013 1:12 PM

lunar spook 07 Nov 2013 8:10 AM


I thought you were a better judge of thoroughbred quality than you displayed with that post.

Wise Dan is the top turf horse on the continent for two seasons in a row, suffering only two losses to very good horses on different surfaces over that period and you choose to denegrate his quality!!! He may very well be the top turf horse in the world right now, bar none ...with a timeform rating of 135 (higher than the sensational French filly Treve, rated 134). Sounds like you were moonstruck, buddy. Think again.

07 Nov 2013 1:41 PM

Steve, as always you write eloquently but this time a rare moment occurs. I disagree with some of your comments. Oops, a minority opinion at best . . .

Firstly - YES, there should be an Eclipse award for milers.

Secondly - Wise Dan is a nice horse, but he really wins the Horse of the Year award by default, same as last year. For 9 months we've read consistent opinions about how terrible it is that the owner/trainer have followed the same boring and unchallenging path as before, how he was beating subpar horses. Now he's the Holy Grail. If Will Take Charge or Royal Delta had won their respective races, we might well be having a different discussion.

07 Nov 2013 1:44 PM

Everything this horse does is reminiscent of Secretariat.  From his color to his physique and his workouts.  That workout at Saratoga this summer was breathtaking.  

Bravo J Flora.  Outstanding racehorses don't come along very often.  That was always the shame of the Zenyatta detractors.  We should appreciate the time we have to watch them do what they are bred to do, race and win.  The brevity of the race horse career in comparison to their total lives should require that very sentiment.

When a racehorse is only limited by the opportunities given by ownership and management, we should applaud every opportunity to watch them perform.

07 Nov 2013 1:53 PM

@MemoriesofPuchi:  Why is Wise Dan winning (or in the case of last year “won”) by default?  Wise Dan, Game On Dude, Royal Delta, Princess of Sylmar, whoever you want to put in the running for HOTY, all came to the BC and Dan was the only one who delivered.  He did his job.  He earned the HOTY title.  Why is it less simply because he won and the other horses all bombed?  Tell me any other time that any of those contenders stepped off their "boring and unchallenging" path to the BC? The girls didn’t face/win against the boys this year.  The only time Game On Dude left California was for Charles Town (Racing there because, in Baffert’s words, “It’s easier to get there than to Dubai.”  He’s never been afraid to take a top horse to Dubai; hence he was picking an easier spot.).  But Dan goes to KY, NY, Canada, and CA, runs on synthetic when his planned race was taken off the turf, carries top weight, sets a course record at Woodbine.  What the heck else does he have to do to not win “by default”?  And please don’t say run in the Classic.  Why shouldn’t Game On Dude have run in the Mile?

07 Nov 2013 2:30 PM
Steve Haskin

Bonnie, you said it sll. Ssved me the trouble. Funny how subjective the words "by default" are. If Royal Delta had won the Distaff? Even if she had and gotten Horse of the Year, what does that have to do with Wise Dan being a great horse. He did what he had to. Do you have to be Horse of the Year to be considered great? I guess Zenyatta wasn't a great horse the year she won the BC Classic and was undefeated,

07 Nov 2013 2:47 PM
Steve Haskin

I also found it interesting that there were four horses in the BC who had a shot at HOY -- three of them were out of the money and one won. Sounds pretty simple to me.

07 Nov 2013 2:52 PM

You beat me to it, Steve, commenting on BonnieH's post.  Couldn't agree more.  I also, really enjoy your "They're Off" videos.

07 Nov 2013 3:18 PM
Shelby's Best Pal

True, true, true.  I really enjoyed getting to see Wise Dan at Santa Anita.  Loved your article.

07 Nov 2013 3:40 PM
Steve Haskin

Derbylin, ignore this past And Theyre Off. The camera died and they had to do a makeshift show on Skype and it came out hideously bad. We're working on setting up new equipment that wont make me look like Quasimodo and wont be of such poor quality, although even the best of cameras cant work miracles.

07 Nov 2013 3:50 PM
lunar spook

RANAGULZION , MIKE RELVA , SORRY ! I didn't realize this forum was the wise dan fan club , geez louise I just stated my opinion on the horse , I enjoy chatting with u guys on here its all in fun !!! but I still think hes a TAD over rated ! lol !!!

07 Nov 2013 4:03 PM

it's painful having a minority opinion! but you leave me little option but to respond to some of your comments. please take these comments, knowing that I have deep respect Steve, and truly appreciate your love for the sport and the horses.

Of course Zenyatta deserved her HOY. She had a wonderful season AND stepped out of her metier.

No Bonnie, it's not only because the other horses "bombed". Will Take Charge did step out of his usual group, he raced against older horses (after having consistently beaten the best 3 yr olds)and only came a nose short of winning the classic-hardly a bomb.

Horse of the Year is supposed to be for the whole year, not just one day.

Having said that, Wise Dan would be welcome in anybody's barn, but he is a bit of a one trick pony, not having travelled to different countries (like the Euros - what stopped him from going to Ascot or Deauville for instance)or won at many different distances (no sprints, or classic distances).

07 Nov 2013 4:26 PM

Steve puts it in 4 most accurate, most agreeable words: WISE DAN GREAT, PERIOD!

I wonder where the mighty, all-knowing Coldfacts is, and what he's thinking about this now... It's a sure bore w/o his irritating presence in Steve's blog.

All hail Wise Dan! :-)

07 Nov 2013 5:07 PM
Karen in Texas

Don't know how I managed to create a nonsensical comment above! I meant to say thank you for the wonderful description/characterization of Wise Dan, Steve. He has become a national treasure during his career in my opinion!

07 Nov 2013 5:11 PM

Wise Dan is in a class of his own. He deserves the respect and accolades afforded a horse of his caliber. Naysayers will have their day, but in the end history will show that this horse had a undeniable greatness.

07 Nov 2013 5:38 PM
Arthur Wellesley

Wise Dan. He is assured of being well remembered as a great American turf miler. However, if the connections generally think he is one of the best milers ever to tread the turf then there is but one thing Wise Dan must do to be assured a place in history. Two words: Royal Ascot. He who dares wins. Animal Kingdom may have crashed and burned but I am a sure believer that Wise Dan should contest the 2014 Queen Anne and prove that he is as good as people say. Wise Dan will never be rated an equal to Frankel by any generation but if he can come to England and defeat the world's best (Toronado) then history has been won and not one person can argue it.

07 Nov 2013 5:57 PM

Steve,you have a sense of humor too.  I cant ignore all the great points you and Len make but will do as you say and pretend I don't see you in the video this time. Hope to see you in two weeks!

07 Nov 2013 6:12 PM

Congratulations are in order for the connections and fans of Wise Dan. I was of the opinion that the European colt Olympic Glory would provided some competition by that did not materialize.  

It was left up to the G3 winner and G1 placed ZA Approval to provide the serious competition. The G2 winner Silento ran better than expected.

Is wise truly great? His record supports the this view and I am not prepared to challenge the conclusion.

I have some views for what they are worth.

In 2010 Gio Ponti won the Shadwell Mile and went on to finish 2nd to the great Goldikova in the 2010 Breeder Cup Mile. In 2011 Gio Ponti won the Shadwell Mile and went on to finish 4th in the 2011 BC Mile won by the 7YO Court Vision. Goldikova finished 3rd in her quest for a 4th consecutive victory.

In 2011 Wise Dan as a 4YO finished 4th to Gio Ponti in the Shadwell Mile and bypassed the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Mile.

Between 2012 and 2013 most of quality of milers that existed in the previous two years were out of training for various reasons.

Wise Dan was not good enough to defeat them in 2010 & 2011 and in two subsequent years he has become great. Could it be that the absence of quality milers from the scene aided and abetted this declared greatness?

To put things into perspective, Curlin’s success as a 4YO that led to his 2nd HOY title could have been aided and abetted by the retirement of Street Sense, Any Given Saturday, Hard Spun and Rags To Riches as 3YOs. This assertion in not a stretch as those horses would have been formidable opponents as 4YOs.

Is Gio Ponti great? He won the Shadwell Mile in consecutive years and then challenged the mighty Goldikova twice.  Goldikova has to be the bar for greatness for turf milers. Wise Dan was not considered good enough face her in 2011 but two year later considered great.

Food for thought!

07 Nov 2013 6:53 PM

Wise Dan, still the wisest of all.  And he sure has that engine of a "battery pack in the back" as I like to refer to his hind quarters.  He gets my vote for HOY, I say just give it to him now.

Interesting proposition Steve of instituting a Triple Crown Mile on dirt or turf.  It certainly would showcase the stars of shorter distances but would it eventually make breeding for distance and stamina a thing of the past?  Why are milers the most sought after stallions if we here don't revere them as in Europe?  The emphasis here seems to be placed on the Derby/TC distance races, summer races with classic distances, all dirt.  How many times do we here from bloggers when a colt doesn't measure up to the tc distances, "oh he's just a miler," as if it is something inferior.  I'm guilty of it myself, thinking distance is better.  Perhaps you are right and American perspective and thinking on the milers must change.  If G.O.D. had won the Classic and Wise Dan his mile race then the industry would be in a heated HOY debate right now.

And why is it that so many of them ran their hearts out in the BC races, only to end up 2 days later in a sale?  Isn't that a bit cruel, don't they deserve a rest in their familiar surroundings for awhile with those they are close to before being carted off to a sale?  It's a business, yes, and most owners don't own their own private farms so a breeding farm must be chosen for those being retired, but 2 days after a major race?  That's horse first mentality?  Let's have our horse run it's heart out, then polish it up, ship it out yet again to another state, and parade it in front of a sale?  2 days is enough time to determine if a horse came out of the race well enough?  I would think it deserves a few weeks rest back at his own barn, but time is money yet again.

07 Nov 2013 7:13 PM
Gio Ponti

Great job, Steve. I really don't get why "Dan's" presumably being awarded HOY again, would be "by default." I agree that awards for all the categories , they should be for the entire YEAR, and not one day (one reason, why I am not a huge BC fan). However, I think Wise Dan had the best year of anyone. So what if he is a Miler? I am for a Miler award.  

07 Nov 2013 7:18 PM

Really the only low point with Wise Dan is that he'll never have babies for us to watch :~(( It would be great to see this modern day iron horse have offspring.

07 Nov 2013 8:34 PM
Paula Higgins

J Flora and Bonnie H well said. MemoriesofPuchi, why is it some people insist on judging horses by what they haven't done, instead of by what they have done? These people judge horses by the half glass empty standard instead of the half glass full. People should look at the horses' accomplishments instead of dissecting their careers with a fine tooth comb. You could take any horse and find  things they didn't do, including Secretariat. To evaluate a horse on their merits is not lowering the bar. Some people want the horse in question to meet their arbitrary criteria in order to be called "great." This is not only unfair but it also isn't based on logic when we are talking about a sport where there are many different roads to greatness i.e. the Triple Crown, 19 wins in a row by a 6 year old mare, a 3 year old filly who consistently beats the boys in major stakes races, etc. Some things are self-evident in horse racing, like greatness, no matter how a horse gets there, and everyone should know it when they see it. As Steve said, Zenyatta was great in 2009 whether she won the HOTY title or not. Wise Dan is great whether he races on dirt or goes a mile and a quarter, or not.

07 Nov 2013 10:02 PM

Dubai Duty Free

08 Nov 2013 1:17 AM
lunar spook

Hate to rain on this wise dan luv fest but my choice for HOY is BEHOLDER , 5 wins , including 4 grade 1 over what I feel is much more steller competition than wise dan faced , im open to any comebacks !!!

08 Nov 2013 9:22 AM

Wise Dan is a very classy horse.  Whether he is truly great depends on how you define the term.  Is he the calibre of Goldikova, Miesque or Lure?  Is he the calibre of Greinton and Precisionist, who are not considered "great"?  Miesque finished second in the Prix de Diane at a distance much longer than she wanted to run.  The horse who beat her was the top class distance filly Indian Skimmer.  Lure ran at different distances other than 1m.  Goldikova travelled to England and the US, as did Miesque.  Precisionist and Greinton ran at a variety of distances even though they were superior milers.  My point was they were all challenged with different scenarios and distances at some point in their careers.  Wise Dan is a gelding.  He has no stud fee to protect.  As classy as he is, his connections have been incredibly conservative and safe.  It does not diminish the horse's talent, but it does his legacy.  It is just my opinion.

08 Nov 2013 9:42 AM

Well, Arthur Wellesley "He who dares wins" indeed. Your comment about Animal Kingdom ("...crashed and burned....") simply damns others for not having the courage of his Kentucky Derby and Dubai World Cup-winning connections. If Frankel was so great, why did his connections dodge Dubai and the BC - in fact anywhere save Jolly 'Ol - for an entire career (Answer: they rightly feared the travel, surroundings and surfaces would expose him)? Royal Ascot may be  great frozen-in-amber spectacle (though, for that, there is the Arc), but I have far more respect for Animal Kingdom - whose connections did indeed dare - than for those who kept Frankel safely nestled in the close and familiar confines of his musty living room.

08 Nov 2013 11:18 AM
lunar spook

ARTHUR WELLESLEY - I agree with you , but trust me wise dans connections are gonna do nothing but run him in mile turf races , the one time this year they tried 1 1/16 he was beaten , this just supports my opinion this horse has no versatility whatso ever ! none ! but judging from the comments on this page these folks are all on the wise dan payroll and will not open their minds to any criticism about their hero at all !

08 Nov 2013 12:16 PM

Footlick - you say this very well. Thank you for expressing your opinion so precisely and graciously.

Paula, Secretariat ran on turf and dirt, and ran in different countries. That is a measure of challenge. Wise Dan has done very well in his own backyard. I would have loved to see him be allowed to step up to the challenge of travelling overseas, and on different surfaces. Maybe he would have been successful. If so, there would be no controversy. As it stands now, there can only be speculation and wishful thinking. Will he be mentioned in the same breath as such great geldings as Kelso and John Henry? Let's have a cup of coffee together in 30 years from now, and discuss it then, with the wisdom of golden hindsight.

08 Nov 2013 12:17 PM

Some of the arguments against Wise Dan are just exercises in self-righteousness.

One blogger said that Wise Dan would have been beaten by Declaration of War and Magician.

The facts show the following.

Declaration of War ran against Olympic Glory in August this year.

Olympic Glory was second ,Declaration of War finished fourth. The winner was Moonlight Cloud

Last year in the Breeders’ Cup mile, Wise Dan crushed Moonlight Cloud. No horse has beaten Moonlight Cloud since.

Olympic Glory was crushed by Wise Dan this year.

Another blogger compared Wise Dan to Goldikova. Goldikova is not in the same league as Wise Dan. At no stage in her career did she qualify as an all-time great. She was beaten routinely in Europe. She did not make the Timeform All-Time Highweights list. She made 27 starts. She was beaten 10 times.

Magician has lost 4 of his 8 starts.

Wise Dan qualifies for the Timeform All-Time Highweights  list. He is currently the highest ranked horse in the world by Timeform. He is ranked 135. Prix de l'Arc winner Treve is ranked 134.

Wise Dan has made 27 starts. He has won 19. He has won 13 of his last 15 starts. He set  track records in the past 13 months.

You can choose facts selectively but you need a reference point when comparing horses from different countries. Of course, if Timeform does not help your argument, you can always ignore their rankings and impose your own fancies.

08 Nov 2013 12:23 PM

Hugs and Kisses Steve! Thank you for these comments on Wise Dan and turf racing. I for one am starting to prefer the turf over dirt and think it deserves more respect in this country. Wise Dan is just awesome in my opinion. The way he kicked, went outside and surged to the win in the BC Mile was just pure joy to watch. He is fast, powerful and smart and he has a beautiful head and those eyes..love his eyes. Will Take Charge and Wise Dan in my opinion both remind me of  the beloved Secretariat. And even though WTC lost the BC Classic by a whisker, the way he charged to the outside and surged to the finish line just shows his power and determination to win. I have said this before and will say it again, Mr Fink has every right to race Wise Dan the way he wants to. He is for sure not running this horse in ground or burning him out on the track and I respect him for that. I look forward to Wise Dan running next year and hope that WTC does as well. Just gotta love these big chestnuts that can have careers after their 2 and 3 year old years. One final thought...Secretariat lives on through these generation of progeny and just goes to show how influential a sire he really was. Thank you Steve!

08 Nov 2013 1:17 PM

Lunar Spook

I'll take the bait.  To argue HOY for Beholder has a couple of hitches.  Once the buzz wears off from her win, the only problem with Beholder is the 3 year old filly championship is not assured for her.  By your argument Princess of Sylmar is still a candidate for HOY.  Beholder's biggest problem will be that Royal Delta and Princess of Sylmar while physically present did not show up.  Had they finished 1-2-3 even if Beholder had only won by a nose, I would have to say Beholder is definitely 3 yr old filly champion.  But because she was missing for much of the year after the Kentucky Oaks, and only came back in the top races by the fall (no, the torrey pines does not count) and Royal Delta and Princess of Sylmar were clearly not at their best, she may still fail with the voters.

Don't get me wrong.  I am a Beholder fan and look forward to next year.  The 4 year old version of Beholder is going to be a  monster I think.  I also would have liked to see a 2 year old champion repeat.  I just don't think its in the bag.  Certainly not enough to bypass an age division championship and proceed directly to the overall championship.

08 Nov 2013 1:21 PM
steve from st louis

Spook, Beholder has beaten little other than her Breeders Cup win and has done all of her winning at Santa Anita other than one win at Del Mar. You're really going way out of your way trying to make a case for the filly as HOY; you'd have a tough time making a case for her as even just 3-year-old filly of the year. I'd bet a milkshake Princess of Sylmar romps there, too. We're all here for fun but it's hard keeping you off the walls, imo.

08 Nov 2013 1:28 PM
lunar spook

JERSEY BOY- When your idol starts running against some better competition ill buy into it , goldikova not in his league , man , pleeeze , get real ! wise dan would have lost in Europe too just like she did , but we will never know cuz his connections will NEVER EVER let him test against any REAL competition !!!

08 Nov 2013 1:38 PM

lunar spook:

Give examples of "better competition". Remember, the rankings are from the experts at Timeform. They are world-renowned.

If they say so, I will not argue.

08 Nov 2013 2:14 PM

If it weren't for the people who can see white, when it's black, feel they are up, when they are down, and manage to have an opposite view of everyone else, life would be rather boring. No names mentioned, I'll be kind today. Yes, Wise Dan is one helluva horse. He screams class, is a picture of equine royalty and he wins. I'm very smitten with him myself. You have to dig deep to find fault with this horse, but some folks seem to have been born with a shovel in hand. I hope Danny Boy sweeps Horse of the Year again.

08 Nov 2013 2:16 PM

Thank you MemoriesofPuchi

08 Nov 2013 2:30 PM
lunar spook

LIVE WIRE , STEVE FROM ST. LOUIS- I tend to get too excited on here sometimes , because I am such an avid horse racing fan , I eat , drink and sleep it !!! when I think of the greats ive had the pleasure of watching race(some live I might add) and go on  to win horse of the year such as , ZENYATTA, CURLIN , GHOSTZAPPER, TIZNOW , CIGAR , AND SUNDAY SILENCE , this horse wise dan just pales by comparison , I guess he just wins it on default this year , but I sure wish his connections would get a little braver in their races , and not be so narrow minded !!!

08 Nov 2013 2:32 PM

If your Goldikova comment was referring to me, Jersey Boy, my post was about challenging the horse.  In my opinion they could have challenged Goldikova more also, i.e, The QEII or Hong Kong Mile, but they chose to ship her across the Atlantic to run here many times.  At least they did challenge her.  My problem is that they do not challenge Wise Dan.  I already stated at the beginning of my post that he is a very classy horse.  

08 Nov 2013 2:35 PM
Needler in Virginia

MemoriesofPuchi.....All day, every day, any time, all the time, ALL the time zones, all tracks, and all conditions there are literally hundreds of trainers who would take Wise Dan....one trick pony or NOT! Besides consistency, soundness, stability, adaptability, willingness and raw talent what the hell else do you want from a horse? The ability to sing an aria? Or perhaps he should cook a souffle??

And I can't even address lunar spook's rant. Sounds very much like the Zenyatta nay sayers of late so we can dismiss it as being a fairly good imitation of sour grapes. 'Nuf said.

By the way, Steve, I'm being repetitious as hell but you just keep on putting the words together so very well......THANKS!

Cheers and safe trips.

08 Nov 2013 2:52 PM

As far as Timeform ratings, I defended Hawk Wing, rated 136, and was roundly criticized for it by many.  I do not remember if you were one of the critics or not.  But if one horse is defended by his rating, then all on the all-time list must be defended as great.  It does not always work that way as was pointed out to me.  By the way, I still do believe Hawk Wing was a high class individual.  He did run a race that deserved that rating and ran many very good races also.  He did run some bad ones too.  

08 Nov 2013 2:56 PM

Lunar Spook,

Your continual carping against Wise Dan and his connections is ridiculous. We all have our opinions but to continually tear into a wonderful horse who has done nothing wrong, and has provided thrills and excitement for so many people shows that you are mean spirited and think your way is the only way. Why do you even bother commenting about a horse that you believe is overrated and underachieving? Such nastiness towards an animal is quite disturbing.

08 Nov 2013 3:39 PM
lunar spook

SMARIE- This has nothing to with hating the horse , I am an avid race fan and animal lover but my competitive side comes out too ,im simply voicing opinions like I do on any athletes in any sport , I just think in any other year wise dan is not even in the conversation for HOY ! NEEDLER IN VIRGINIA- I happen to have thought zenyatta was a great horse , wise dan , well not so much ! This is a sport people , if u cant handle a little criticism , too bad ! I LOVE wise dan has an animal I just think his connections are picking and choosing too much ! yall all have a great weekend !!!

08 Nov 2013 4:30 PM

Steve, as always, wonderful writing.  This goes to a larger problem in racing where our classic horses and milers get muddled together because of all the mile and an eighth races.  Can't have a champion miler and a champion classic distance when 75% of major stakes races are run at 8.5 or 9  furlongs.

Let's abolish those and run all races at either a mile or mile and a quarter then I'm definitely on board.

08 Nov 2013 4:55 PM

ARTHUR WELLESLEY - I agree with you , but trust me wise dans connections are gonna do nothing but run him in mile turf races , the one time this year they tried 1 1/16 he was beaten , this just supports my opinion this horse has no versatility whatso ever ! none ! but judging from the comments on this page these folks are all on the wise dan payroll and will not open their minds to any criticism about their hero at all

Perhaps you've forgotten that WD crushed a field in the GR 1 Clark Handicap (that's a dirt race) and was a close second (many thought he was interfered with in the stretch) in the Gr 1 Stephen Foster (that's a dirt race).  He set a track record and ran the highest BSF (for what that's worth) ever run on synthetic in the Ben Ali off a layoff.  The horse has nothing to prove on other surfaces, he already has.

08 Nov 2013 4:56 PM
Karen in Texas


In your Nov.8, 12:17 P.M. post, you say that Secretariat ran on turf, dirt, and in other countries. He ran in Canada at Woodbine, one time, I believe. Wise Dan has run on turf, dirt, and on synthetics as well. He has also run at Woodbine in Canada twice. Please check with Equibase if you require verification of the above.

08 Nov 2013 6:12 PM

Re Beholder and HOY: It's Horse of the YEAR not, HOD, Horse of the Day. As for all the carping about WD not being challenged, pulled, poked, prodded: It's worth considering he is a forerunner of American racehorses becoming specialists - whether due to breeding or business considerations. Perhaps the comparison with "versatile" or "classic-distance" horses (Precisionist, Secretariat - though I don't know where THAT one came from) belongs to an era when "stud fees" referred to rental tuxedos and family trees weren't quite so funnel-shaped.

08 Nov 2013 7:22 PM
Linda in Texas

Hello to Needler in Virginia. Don't stay away so long. Your thoughts are always right on and they help take the pressure off of the same ones all the time. Mentioned you not long ago that i miss your posts.

This is Wise Dan's Time in The Spotlight but i cannot help but mention how nice it will be to see Groupie Doll race the guys in The Cigar Mile.

Thanks Steve.

08 Nov 2013 7:59 PM

If I am correct, what Footlicks et al are expressing is basically what Steve actually wrote a few months back - to be recognised as 'great,' milers have to step out of their comfort zone.

Steve did encourage Wise Dan's owners to widen the conservative path to the Breeders' Cup for Wise Dan so that his virtues (greatness) could not be questioned.

Frankel had to and was successful, as mentioned above Miesque tried and failed (the track was boggy that day which suited Indian Skimmer as did the distance), Brigadier Gerard tried and failed. Zilzal, a better miler you will never see, travelled to the US to compete in the Breeders' Cup mile but failed because he was a handful even at his local track. Milers are always asked for more and if they are not, there is always the question about how good the horse is/was.

During my childhood the perception was that milers are not as good as derby horses, it's hard to shake off old taught jaundice views.

08 Nov 2013 8:29 PM

Beholder is another Cali horse, lunar spook. HOY, no. HOC (Horse of California), maybe, but perhaps still less accomplished there than even GOD. If you consider Beholder for HOY, then POS enters the discussion - they are 1-1 head-to-head. In other words: They are both still up-for-grabs in their division (I'm with POS). BTW, I'm for vacating awards in a year where there is no deserving winner; Eclipse Awards risk becoming -OY in name only, kind of like BC WORLD Championships.

08 Nov 2013 9:18 PM
Paula Higgins

MemoriesofPuchi, a horse can be great without replicating the achievements of Secretariat. That would be pretty much impossible. As I said, there are different roads to greatness and Wise Dan has taken one of them. I think if I were to meet you in 30 years for coffee, I would feel the same way about Wise Dan :). If you want to have a discussion as to where the greats rank in the firmament, that's an altogether different story and one where you would have a better argument. Goldikova is great also btw. Thank you Karen in Texas. Good points.

08 Nov 2013 9:48 PM


I was not referring to you.

By the way, the only Timeform ranking I have ever questioned, is the 134 they gave to Galileo. I believe they ranked him too low.

08 Nov 2013 11:33 PM
Paula Higgins

Steve, I watched your recap of the Breeders Cup with Lenny and at the end I laughed out loud over the comments about the "musical interludes." I thought maybe I was the only one who thought Kristin Chenoweth sounded like she was screeching. I mean seriously awful. I was afraid she would scare the horses.

09 Nov 2013 12:03 AM


In my post I specified that Goldikova is the standard for greatness in the turf mile world.

Gio Ponti who defeated Wise Dan handily in their only meeting over 8F. He was beaten twice by Goldikova in the BC turf Mile.

Wise Dan had an opportunity to race against the brilliant mare and was not considered good enough.

The comparison of the race records of both is dubious at best. Turf racing in Europe is far more competitive than in the US. In fact outside a few synthetic track all racing is conducted on turf.

The configuration and conditions of the turf courses in Europe very to extreme degrees and are not as one dimensional as the turf courses in the US. The American courses are mostly flat and firm. It is therefore much easier for a classy turf horse to accumulate large numbers of victories.

Goldikova is a brilliant race mare that could have accumulated far more victories if she was kept exclusive amongst her gender similarly to Zenyatta.

She battled the boys on  both sides of the Atlantic on numerous occasions because the girls were no match.

For you to state that Goldikova is not in the same league as Wise Dan is laughable.

I have every confidence that you will do the right think and undo the insult by posting a retraction.

This assuming your ego will allow for same.

09 Nov 2013 12:06 AM
Gio Ponti

I do think Wise Dan is great. One commenter who compared Gio Ponti to Dan, wanted to know if Gio Ponti was "great."  Um, yeah. He won races at longer distances than Dan did.  I am talking winning the Arlington Million 2009, Winning the Man O'War, and many other races. I certainly think Gio Ponti is a great horse.

09 Nov 2013 12:38 AM
Mike Relva

Lunar Spook

Bottom line is after the winner is declared in Jan really isn't going to matter much what you think of Wise Dan. Don't blame the horse cause he beat you at the ticket window. lmao

09 Nov 2013 1:39 AM

What is versatile? Wise Dan has overcome terrible trips and even worse footing. A lot of Euros seem to excel on one type of grass course, soft or firm (e.g. Olympic Glory who bombed on the firm SA turf). It doesn't matter to WD- he excels on them all.

And as for lack of competition, he soundly beat Moonlight Cloud last year and she not only was literally unbeatable this year (and a Cartier HoY finalist), but she came within a diminishing head of beating Black Caviar at Ascot last year.

One mark of a great horse is that he or she can overcome adversity, as WD has repeatedly done. I really don't see what he has to prove to anyone. That said, I'd love to see him try Royal Ascot, simply because I'd love to see an older U.S. horse compete and win there. But imo Wise Dan doesn't need to do so to prove his greatness.

09 Nov 2013 8:16 AM
Pedigree Ann

The Classic distance horses in open company will ALWAYS have first call on the title Horse of the Year if any have a year that deserves it.

In 1969, Ta Wee had an outstanding year. She won the Test, the Comely, the Prioress, the Jasmine (Hialeah was THE Florida winter track then) and Miss Woodford against her age group, the Interborough H against older mares, and the Vosburgh and Fall Highweight against older males.

But she never had a chance at Horse of the Year, because a 3yo colt named Arts and Letters won the Blue Grass, Met Mile, Belmont, Jim Dandy, Travers, Woodward, and Jockey Club Gold Cup; he was also second (closely) in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.

The entire point of breeding a Thoroughbred is to create an animal with both speed and stamina, able to beat sprinters sprinting and stayers staying. It is the staying part that is the most difficult to maintain in the breed, as the 'genetic drift' in all breeds is back towards speed over shorter distances. Finding and celebrating the staying horses of high class is essential if the breed is going to be truly Thoroughbred.

Most breedings will fail to produce the ideal type of TB, hence we have have races for the 'failures' - multitudes of sprint and mile races and a sprinkling of races for dour stayers; breeders will not continue to try if their 'failures' cannot win races and earn money. But sprinting and even miling is not what the Thoroughbred was created for and once we lose sight of that, we might as well be breeding Quarter Horses (whose racing sorts are 70%+ of 'failed' TB ancestry).

Ta Wee was champion sprinter of 1969, repeated in 1970, and is in the Hall of Fame. She was a great sprinter and fine broodmare, dam of 4 SWs from 6 foals, including Great Above, sire of Holy Bull. Not being HotY did not diminish her accomplishments.

09 Nov 2013 9:59 AM

Well, when all is said, if you bet a horse with confidence, and he wins, then he is a great horse?

Morti! There's got to be a better way!

Yes, dear.....

09 Nov 2013 11:11 AM
Steve Haskin

Jersey Boy, did you really think your comment was going to be posted? Have you not learned anything participating on this blog. I strongly advise that you refrain from the personal attacks in the future.

09 Nov 2013 12:56 PM

I was not sure, Jersey Boy.  Thanks for letting me know.

09 Nov 2013 4:54 PM

I don't understand the comments about Wise Dan going overseas to compete.  None of the "great horses" of our past travelled overseas, they faced each other a lot, but I don't believe they travelled to other countries seeking greatness but then again, it's very possible I'm wrong.

10 Nov 2013 12:59 AM

Pedigree Ann

Well said. Goldikova was a great horse specialist. A great miler. Sea The Stars was a great thoroughbred and took center stage winning the most prestigious races in Europe. How bright would Frankel star would have shined if Frankel raced in the same year Sea was taking europes great races?

I will always admire great horses like Goldikova, Wise Dan, Frankel but great thoroughbred only applies to the very few and in this age of breeding for fast cash, the great thoroughbreds are getting rarer and rarer.

10 Nov 2013 1:42 AM

Wise Dan is a "Great Horse" regardless of what they naysayers crow and will be rememberes as such.  He has been as consitant a horse as we have ver seen.  He is a "machine."  Yes, he has taken pretty much the same road his entire career but that oes not diminish him in any way.  And it absolutely delightful to live vicariously through his owner and trainer.  Not since Zenyatta have we seen a trainer/owner combination who truly enjoy, even revel in their horse and his accomplishments.  IMHO, Wise Dan is this year Horse of the Year again.

10 Nov 2013 10:42 AM

JayJay, I think that since it is perceived that his schedule of races next year will be about the same as this year with the exception that they have announced he will not run in any handicaps, in order to challenge him they need to do something different.  If they are only interested in keeping him on the turf and running 8f or 9f, the only choice to challenge him would be to send him overseas and run.  This does not have to be Europe, as they can send him to Dubai, Hong Kong, Japan or Australia if they wish.  If his connections are thinking of stretching him out on turf and/or dirt, pointing to the BC Classic, then that will be challenging him, depending on what races they choose.  It isn't necessarily that he needs to go abroad, but he needs to be challenged.  At least that is my viewpoint.

10 Nov 2013 4:56 PM

Gollykeeper, remember that Moonlight Cloud is pounds better this year than last.  She was just coming into her own when she had a rough trip on the rail in last year's BC Mile, getting bounced around like a ping pong ball.  Also remember Black Caviar was injured in the Ascot race, and her jockey misjudged the finish.  Moonlight Cloud's race was strong considering it was shorter than she wanted, but it has to be put in perspective.  This year Moonlight Cloud was a much different animal.  She was mature physically and mentally.  Freddie did not send her to the BC Mile this year because of the trip she got last year.  He did not want a repeat, and he did not want to run her on a course that tight and firm.  Olympic Glory was just a sucker bet for anyone who bet him.  It had never been said in Europe that he acted on firm turf.  He also had issues with turns.  But they did blinker him for the QEII and he ran a truer race.  The owner wanted to support the Breeder's Cup.  They tried to downplay Olympic Glory's distaste for firm turf, but the horse they really wanted in the race was Tornado, as in Europe it was the firmer the better for him.  But he did nit recover from his operation as quickly as they thought.  I don't think anyone is saying that Wise Dan is not versatile, at least where surface is concerned.  Just my opinion, though.

10 Nov 2013 5:08 PM
lunar spook

MIKE RELVA - WRONG !! ON BOTH COUNTS , regardless what happens in January my opinion WILL remain the same about wise dan and second I did not lose at the windows , I cleaned up on MAGICIAN who most folks on this forum brushed aside , anytime u want to post your picks on any race let me know and we will see who can pick horses !!

11 Nov 2013 8:00 AM


Loved your article, but it's not about the mile as much as it's about the turf.

There are people in this industry (especially "DRF") that try to brainwash new racing fans that one surface is "superior" than the other surface. They try to insinuate and "rationalize" that Americans should think that "dirt" is "GOD's surface".

Why do these individuals "preach and think" this way?


...because Europe takes us out behind the woodshed every year and dominates our American horseflesh on the turf (on a consistent basis).

We have no "stamina" in American bloodstock anymore. This is the reason why we can't beat the Europeans on the turf (on a regular basis).

We don't even have "stamina" in our dirt runners anymore. Our Belmont Stakes winners are running 2:30 and change.


Why do you think these clowns want to get rid of the "Marathon" in the Breeders Cup?

I shouldn't have to answer that one for you. I'll leave that up to you to answer.

What's "thorough" in the thoroughbred anymore?

Answer: "Nothing"

We are breeding quarter horses now and if they don't run 10 and change at auction, then the breeders won't get that "high-dollar" money. This "way of thinking" is sick.

These quarter horse trainers have come into our sport and have changed the way breeders in Lexington breed. If they don't breed for speed, then these quarter horse trainers are going to tell their clientele: "we're not buying".

Once D. Wayne Lukas came on board, the whole thoroughbred breeding process changed. It started in the 80's and has been picking up momentum ever since.

Darrell Wayne Lukas became so large (with his franchised nationwide stable) that breeders meticulously started breeding for his clientele. D. Wayne Lukas wants speed. His student (Todd Pletcher) wants speed. Bob Baffert wants speed. "Stamina" takes a backseat to these quarter horse trainers. It's an afterthought.

We better start telling those cookie-cutter commercialized breeding operations in Lexington that we are not interested in buying their "speed-ridden" dirt pedigrees anymore.

We better start thinking of "stamina" before Europe comes over here and starts winning the "Breeders Cup Classic" on a consistent basis. Three years now, they have come within a length of winning the "Breeders Cup Classic (2000, 2001 and 2013)"

Then what are we going to do, when they start winning our premier event?

Are we going to cut back the distance of the "Breeders Cup Classic" to 9 furlongs so we can beat them with our speed-ridden pedigrees?

American horseflesh is a joke now.

...and the joke is going to be on us when we can't win the "Breeders Cup Classic" anymore.

Keep selling our bloodstock to Japan and other foreign nations. That'll really get us somewhere in the "stamina" department.

11 Nov 2013 4:40 PM
Mike Relva

Lunar Spook

Difference is I can discuss racing without knocking some horse. I didn't infer your opinion will change after Wise Dan wins HOTY,point is it doesn't matter,zero consequence cause connections could care less what your opinion is.

11 Nov 2013 6:29 PM
lunar spook

MIKE RELVA - most all sports websites I visit have friendly banter between the posters , I don't like the titans , the steelers are over rated , this quarterback should be benched , this players over paid , etc. etc. etc. what is your sensitivity with wise dan ? this is after all a SPORT ! I live in sec country and being a fan of a school most folks haven't heard of, the MTSU blue raiders ive learned to take the heat and roll with the punches , lighten up man , its all in fun !

12 Nov 2013 10:24 AM

Thoroughbreds have been bred to win at a mile since the establishment of the 2000 Guineas in 1809.  Wise Dan is indeed a great thoroughbred.

12 Nov 2013 10:57 AM
El Kabong

Steve, Paula,

sometimes this game is cruel. When Tony Bennett was at SA to sing The Best Is Yet To Come, the sound system failed. This year it worked fine. Ouch. Where were the lousy connections when we needed them.

As for Wise Dan, well just when you think enough cannot be said, I'll say it again. I have seen many a horse in my days, not as many as some on this site, but I will reiterate what I noticed last year while hugging the paddock rail at SA.  Wise Dan is a breathtaking statue of a horse. Never seen one as balanced as Dan. On the muscle and on his toes. He was being schooled without tags or bridal plates on Friday last year and I had to shout at his walker, "who the hell is that?"

"Is Wise Dan," he said, in the local accent.

Holy smokes ladies and gents, he really does stand out.

12 Nov 2013 11:24 AM


Sorry to disagree with you but the Epsom Derby is decades before the 2k Guineas.

The Derby and Triple Crown is what the word thoroughbred were meant to be.

IMO the mile is a in-between race. Not enough speed to sprint and not enough stamina to stay.

As pedigree ann has stated

"Most breedings will fail to produce the ideal type of TB, hence we have have races for the 'failures' - multitudes of sprint and mile races and a sprinkling of races for dour stayers"

12 Nov 2013 2:22 PM
Saratoga AJ

You know, based on Dan's record and longevity, he is approaching the stature of 3 other great geldings....Forego, John Henry, and the mightiest of all....Kelso.

Another year or two of successful campaigns, and a couple of wins in open company on dirt could perhaps seal the deal and add him to that distinguished list.

13 Nov 2013 11:14 AM
Mike Relva

Lunar Spook

There's nothing wrong with a healthy debate-I got it. When it comes to some that attempt to tear down the accomplishments of a horse,that's a different story. Obviously you don't remember the attacks of Zenyatta,Rachel to a absurd level.

13 Nov 2013 2:44 PM
lunar spook

MIKE RELVA- I wanted to see a race between Rachel & zenyatta more than any 2 horses I ever saw , I was so dissipointed when the apple blossom race in Arkansas fell thru ,my head said zenyatta , my heart said Rachel , but I had respect for both , if my remarks seemed geared more toward wise dan more than his connections , it wasn't meant that way , I just feel hes a tad untested , just my opinion , and that and  a dime will get u a cup of coffee , have a safe evening !!!

13 Nov 2013 4:21 PM

Pedigree Ann,  Just reading comments here and I do agree with your post of the 9th in which you discuss speed and stamina.  The classic distance is just that.

14 Nov 2013 3:28 PM

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