A Day in the Life of Wise Dan

The dawn is breaking on a beautiful, cool Saratoga morning. This is the day everyone in Charlie LoPresti’s barn has been waiting for. The day begins as any other, but there is a sense of excitement and anticipation in the air. This is the day of Wise Dan’s long-awaited return in the Bernard Baruch Handicap following colic surgery only 3 1/2 months earlier.

Although Wise Dan has been a virtual winning machine who inspires confidence in everyone close to him, there is that unknown factor hanging over the barn. Can a horse, even a gifted, tough-as-nails professional like Wise Dan, return to his old form at age 7, less than four months after having surgery and having to concede eight to 13 pounds to his eight opponents?

That is the question on everyone’s mind as the help begin to trickle in, happy at least that the Bernard Baruch is the fifth race on the Aug. 30 card, which also features the grade I Woodward and Forego Stakes.

All photos are by Steve Haskin, please ask before taking.

4:50 – Wise Dan is ready for what he believes to be another routine day as he prepares for his morning activity.

5:05 – Assistant Reeve McGaughey, 25-year-old son of Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey, puts a blanket on Wise Dan and attaches the lead shank and walks him around the walking ring, as the morning light begins to filter through the trees.

5:27 – Wise Dan has his blanket removed and is given a bath, as he gets a bit fidgety. This should be the time he normally begins to get ready to go out to the track for his daily training. The blanket gets put back on and he has the poultice hosed off his legs.

5:33 – Wise Dan continues to walk around the ring with several others horses. One by one, each one departs, leaving Wise Dan as the only horse on the ring.

5:43 – The first horse heads to the track, with LoPresti accompanying him on the pony. Normally Dan would be with him. But today is not any normal day.

5:46 – Dan’s water bucket is filled as he continues to walk. But each time, he stops at the same spot to watch the activity building on the track, as well as several of LoPresti’s other horses grazing behind the barn. If one could interpret a horse’s thoughts, Dan would be wondering why he’s not among them and why his morning has been so mundane. If he could read the sign on his stall door that says “Horse in Today,” he would have his answer. “He knows the routine,” McGaughey says. “I might let him eat some grass for a while.”

5:56 – Dan has his ankles washed. McGaughey is confident that Dan is ready to perform at his best, but, again, there is that little bit of uncertainty and anxiety in the air. “He’s doing really well,” McGaughey said. “We’ve got to get started somewhere. Normally he goes out about 5:30, so he knows something is different. At some point, he’ll probably get back in his stall and go to sleep.”

6:00-6:07 – Dan is taken out behind the barn by McGaughey and allowed to graze for a few minutes. A thin layer of fog has settled on the track, providing a typical Saratoga picture and backdrop.

Wise Dan gets to pick a little grass

6:08 – Dan is put back in his stall and proceeds to start picking at his hayrack. LoPresti walks by and briefly looks in on the horse. He knows everything that could be done has been done. “I’m feeling good,” he says. “Everything is good.”

The sign says it all

Dan spent a good part of the morning looking out his window

One thing that is learned watching the horse is that Dan is a dunker. He grabs a mouthful of hay off the rack and then dunks it in his water bucket before eating it, the way a person will soften his biscotti by dunking it in his coffee.

6:16 – With post for the Bernard Baruch scheduled for about 3:15, McGaughey says they have to be in the holding barn 40 minutes before post. It is less than a five-minute walk from LoPresti’s barn to the holding barn, so the scheduled departure time is approximately 2:30.

6:36 – McGaughey puts front protective wraps on Dan. He continues to be amazed at the old boy’s class and intelligence. “He’s different from the rest of them,” he says. “He does things -- just little things -- that other horses don’t do. He’s got so much class. For me, he’s going to be the measuring stick for all horses in the future. Everyone is excited to finally get him back to the races. We’re obviously nervous, but we couldn’t ask him to be doing any better.”

McGaughey feels Dan hasn’t gotten the respect he deserves. “I think he’s kind of under-appreciated for what he’s done,” he says. “I can appreciate other people’s arguments, but I feel that after his career is over, people will begin to appreciate him.”

All good horses know how to take care of themselves and conserve their energy on race days, and Dan is no exception. “He’ll sleep on and off,” McGaughey says. “Two years ago on Woodbine Mile day, he hung his head out the stall door and just rested it on the crossbar. Last year on the day of the Fourstardave, when the blacksmith came he had to check Dan’s shoes while he was lying down.

7:20 – Dan was brought outside as blacksmith Bristin Green filed his shoes with a few last-minute touches. “We did him a couple of weeks ago, so I’m just tightening them up today to make sure everything is good going into the race,” Green says. “We just want to get over this hump and hope he comes back good and continues to have a safe recovery. He’s such a beautiful horse to work with; an absolute class act.”

Dan gets some minor shoe work done as LoPresti looks on

7:30 – Dan is brought back in his stall and continues to pick at his hay rack, while occasionally going to his back window and staring at all the activity on the track. McGaughey says after the state veterinarian comes by to inspect him, they’ll feed him and leave him alone the rest of the morning.

7:45 – Equine therapist Dianne Volz, who works on Wise Dan, shows up to work on another of LoPresti’s horses. Volz, who has worked on a number of champions and classic winners over the years, probably knows more about horses from a mental and physical aspect than most people close to them on a daily basis, and is enamored with Wise Dan. “He is so grounded and alright with himself,” she says. “Nothing rattles him. He’s so much fun to be around. He’s just a cool horse and the best communicator. It’s either yes or no with him; there’s no gray area. ‘No, I don’t want that, thank you.’ ‘OK, no problem, you’re the man. You get what you want.’

“I take my chew toy and hook it to the tie chain, and he’ll drop his head down and will look like a dog on a long leash. He’s extremely intelligent. When they first arrived here, the horses on either side of him were kicking and screaming and running around, because there was something going on, and he just stood there looking out the window and never turned a hair.

8:45 – The state vet shows up to inspect Dan, as the morning begins to wind down. An occasional visitor stops by to wish LoPresti good luck.

10:00 – LoPresti finally has a chance to sit down for a few minutes outside his office. “I’m hungry,” he says as he spots the food truck at the end of the barn. Not exactly interested in starting his day with the “breakfast of champions,” he is content with a package of Oreo cookies and a Mountain Dew.

LoPresti’s mind is preoccupied not only with Wise Dan, but his two other horses he’s running today, including Set the Sail in the third race, two races before Dan’s. As for Dan, LoPresti knows he has the horse ready, and that has him confident he will give his all as usual. “I’m doing alright,” he says. “Whatever happens happens. It’s up to him now. We’ve done all we can.”

10:10 – Dan is fed his breakfast, and about 10 minutes later he walks to the back of his stall and drops his head, his eyes beginning to droop.

Time to rest up for the big race

10:40 – Lopresti gets in his truck and heads out to get ready.

10:55 – The Lasix vet arrives and goes in Dan’s stall to give him his Lasix shot. After she leaves, McGaughey grabs the chain and hooks Dan to the back wall. Snacking time is over. Dan just stares out his window the rest of the morning. Nothing now but the waiting.

2:07 – Dan’s exercise rider, Damien Rock, dressed in a burgundy shirt, is ready to help lead Dan to the holding barn. But first there is the third race to be run. He heads to the backstretch rail to root home Set the Sail. Expecting to see the horse on the lead, he is content to see him in striking position in second. Coming to the wire, Set the Sail is narrowly in front, but Rock can’t tell if he won. He thinks he did, and that’s enough to keep his spirits high. As it turned out, Set the Sail, at 8-1, was beaten a nose by the even-money favorite Mshawish, but was placed first on a disqualification, getting the day off on a good note.

Rock’s attention now turns solely on Wise Dan, as the time nears to bring him to the holding barn. He can’t believe the horse has come this far in such a short period of time. “I’m just so happy he’s here and healthy and ready to race,” he says. “I think back to the day when he was having surgery. For him to go through that and be here in a little over three months is pretty amazing. You have a horse who never has any soundness issues and you think he’s so bullet proof and so sound, but you never know. It makes you realize that every day they’re around is a blessing.”

2:28 – Finally, the time has come. Dan is led from his barn, accompanied by Rock, Reeve McGaughey, and Kelly Wheeler, for the short walk to the holding barn, arriving at 2:31.

Time to head to the holding barn

2:40 – Dan is taken outside to be hosed off, acting a bit fidgety, tossing his head around, but it’s almost time for the Baruch horses to leave. “If you’re gonna hose him, do it quickly,” shouts a holding barn attendant.

2:42 – It’s time for the long walk to the paddock. As Dan walks past the barns, backstretch people are lined up to take his photo. He walks along the Union Ave. gate toward the horse path and the gauntlet of people lined up on both sides, most with cameras and cell phones aimed at Dan. Children sit on their father’s shoulders to get a glimpse of the two-time Horse of the Year.

Dan is brought outside the holding barn

Dan gets a warm round of applause as he appears. From the crowd comes, “Pretty horse”…”Come on Dan”…”Go get ‘em, Danny Boy”…”Boy, look how big he is.”

The fans line up to see the champ

2:51 – Dan goes directly to his saddling stall and is saddled by LoPresti, but again is fidgety, apparently not happy with the lip chain.

Reeve McGaughey gives Dan a reassuring pat on the head

After the horses leave the paddock, LoPresti and owners Morton and Elaine Fink head to the clubhouse and find a spot in front of the large flat screen monitor to watch the race. Fink, at age 84, is already getting emotional, just having Dan return to the races so soon after his ordeal. “If it wasn’t for this horse I probably wouldn’t be here right now,” he says. “He’s added 10 years to my life. At my age, you never know.”

A jubilant Morton and Elaine Fink head to the winner's circle

A few minutes later, the horses are loaded, but Dan, uncharacteristically, gets wound up in the gate and rears, unseating jockey John Velazquez. “Oh, my God, I can’t believe what happened,” Elaine says. “I thought it was somebody else who reared up. I didn’t realize it was him.” Velazquez remounts, as Dan has now settled down and is standing fine.

3:19 – And they’re off! Dan breaks beautifully and as usual settles into a good position in fourth, about a half-dozen lengths behind the pacesetting Five Iron. LoPresti stares emotionless at the screen, as do the Finks, waiting for the explosion they’ve seen so many times before. Will it be there this time? When Velazquez asks Dan for his run on the far turn, he delivers the answer and begins closing in on Five Iron and the Shadwell Stable colt Sayaad. He still has a couple of lengths to make up, but quickly gets that big powerful stride in gear, taking over the lead inside the eighth pole.

“Come on, boy,” Fink shouts.

Wise Dan is in front, but here comes the talented, but enigmatic Optimizer, who had recently been taken from Wayne Lukas and turned over Calumet’s farm trainer Jose Fernandez. Optimizer, in receipt of 11 pounds, begins closing in on Dan, who digs in and drops his head and neck, reaching out gallantly for the wire. It is close, but Dan prevails by a long nose. With a final sixteenth is :05 4/5, he covers the mile and a sixteenth in a blazing 1:39 flat, a fifth of a second off the course record held by Fourstardave in 1991.

Elaine Fink lets out a scream. Morton is overcome with emotion. “Unbelievable! What he went through,” he shouts. LoPresti quickly dashes off to the track, as the Finks slowly make their way out, receiving congratulations along the way.

LoPresti stands on the track waiting for his horse, his hands on his hips. He looks up, inhales, and lets out a deep breath, as if releasing all the anxiety that had built up the days leading up to the race and those earlier days deciding where to run him first time back. Once the Finks arrive, LoPresti asks Morton, “Do you want to walk him in?”

“No, I’m too unsteady,” he replies.

As Wise Dan enters the winner’s circle, the crowd lets out with a round of applause. The cheering increases almost as a wave as Wise Dan heads back along the rail up the stretch to the receiving barn.

Velazquez finishes up with his interviews and all he says as he leaves the winner’s circle and returns to the jocks room is, “Heart of a champion. That’s what he showed today – 127 pounds.”

As for Elaine, she is still overcome with emotion. “I’m still shaking,” she says.

Morton is asked if he’s calmed down yet. “No, I don’t want to calm down,” he says.

“If he had lost and had tried, we would have been happy. What he did in the gate was the last thing I wanted to see. When they do that in the gate, that’s one of the biggest jinxes in racing.”

The Finks were flying right back to Chicago for Morton’s dialysis treatment; another thing he says has kept him going and added years to his life.

One day, Wise Dan will join his brother Successful Dan at LoPresti’s farm. But for now, there was one thought and only one thought. The Champ is back.

Even Dan seems to be excited over his victory

The fans cheer Dan as he heads back home


Leave a Comment:


Dan the Man, he is truly one of the great ones.  Thank you Mr. Haskin for sharing Dan's day with us.  

01 Sep 2014 9:59 PM

Steve; thanks so much for "a day in the life" of the fabulous Wise Dan.  I was one who doubted he would be ready off of the surgery and enforced lay off, but for once, I am thrilled to be wrong.

Congrats to entire team for a job well done.

01 Sep 2014 10:20 PM

A champion in the tradition of Kelso and John Henry.

01 Sep 2014 10:24 PM
lawrence vaccarelli

I guess  HEART OF A CHAMPION says it all

01 Sep 2014 10:28 PM

As I write this comment,tears are streaming down over my checks and dropping on my desk. Simple and yet elegant is this story of a day in the life of a much loved and respected horse, the dear elderly gentleman and his wife who own him and his trainer and groom and exercise rider and his jockey. For the love of this horse, says it all.

Thank you Steve for spending the day with him and sharing the pictures. I will never get to met Wise Dan and your pictures took me as close to him as if I was there.

01 Sep 2014 10:31 PM
Paula Higgins

What a wonderful story Steve! Loved the pictures too. Dan's win made my week, no kidding. I was so happy for him, Charlie LoPresti and of course the Finks. What an incredible horse he is in every respect. By any definition he is a champion and one of the greats. Winning while carrying 11 pounds more than the 2nd place horse, approximately 3 months after colic surgery was otherworldly to me. I honestly thought it was going to be too much for him. But he did it. I can only imagine how emotional this was for Charlie and the Finks. Bless them for keeping him in training. I really hope Dan is given careful consideration for a 3rd HOTY. Unless CC comes back and wins the BCC, Dan should get his 3rd HOTY. He is a national treasure.

01 Sep 2014 10:51 PM

Wonderful, Steve - the article was great, the photos tremendous - almost as good as Dan himself.  He has nothing left to prove, but like Johnny V said, he has the heart of a champion, and it seems he's got more to give us yet.

01 Sep 2014 11:25 PM

Lovely article - he's a very special horse.  

01 Sep 2014 11:57 PM
Bethany Loftis

PERFECT!!! This was absolutely amazing and definitely a new personal favorite of yours! Thank you so much for all your hard work and bringing Dan even closer to us! The Finks are such wonderful people. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Mr. Fink's comments; what a guy?! I'm not surprised what Dan has done for him. Horses are God's best gift to man and make the best medicine for the soul :) Cant wait to see more from this guy and his connections! They're ALL class acts in my opinion.

02 Sep 2014 1:07 AM
Amy Hurley

Great article, Steve, providing a behind the scenes look at a champion's race day routine.  Two things stood out to me:  The care that all of the people in Wise Dan's camp have for him.  Regardless of whether or not you agree with their choice of races for the champ, you have to admire and appreciate their dedication to him and desire to do right by him (e.g. giving him extra time by skipping the Fourstardave).  Also, the extreme boredom that must result for these horses, standing in their tiny stalls for so many hours a day.  It's a shame that more of them can't spend time outdoors in a pen.  I'd be interested to know if horses that train at centers such as Fair Hill, or those training at a farm, get to spend more time outside, running around a paddock and "being a horse."

02 Sep 2014 1:47 AM

Now that is some serious "inside information" that we could only get from you!  Thank you so much for that behind the scenes look at race day for this wonderful animal and his dedicated and caring "family"!  

02 Sep 2014 5:36 AM

Tremendous horse, awesome, just awesome animal. I love him.

02 Sep 2014 5:56 AM

I love this article!

I was sure Wise Dan was post 5...oh well.

02 Sep 2014 6:53 AM

All right, that one made me cry.

02 Sep 2014 7:23 AM

What a great column. Thanks, Steve - that was fascinating.

02 Sep 2014 7:50 AM

Thanks, Steve.  As always, beautifully written and takes me right to the scene.  I know how nervous I was before the race, I can only imagine how Dan's wonderful connections must have felt.  How lucky we are to be able to witness such a champion. Dan has proven his heart and class again and again, and if he never runs another race that will be fine with me.  He has nothing to prove to anyone.  Still, I look forward to seeing him at the Breeders' Cup again this year--not sure my nerves can take it, though it sure will be fun!

02 Sep 2014 7:58 AM
Daniel Jividen

Excellent column,  Steve, and a very good concept - "A Day in the Life ..."  This column, and its accompanying photos, will be an important contribution to racing history.

02 Sep 2014 8:08 AM
Fred and Joan

A great story with very enlightening pictures. You also are good at photography as well as writing an interesting story. It is so good to see this horse win after he has been through so much with his surgery. After such an effort we hope Wise Dan gets some time off and we look forward to when he retires. We bet that a lot of people were surprised by his rearing up in the gate and being so raring to out and race again. Having ridden a few horses in the gate we realize how scary an experience that can be and upsetting for the other race participants too. We are glad to see all went well and that Wise Dan managed to win.

02 Sep 2014 8:35 AM
Shelby's Best Pal

So interesting!  I enjoyed every word and every picture.

02 Sep 2014 9:44 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

What a marvelous way to start the day off with this fantastic rendition of this day in the life of one of the greatest of all time, a day when Wise Dan truly showed the tremendous heart of a champion. I just love watching him run. Like Zenyatta, numerous times I thought about Wise Dan's race "not today, he's not going to get there today," but he always finds a way.  I think he has only lost once on turf in his career, almost three years ago in the Shadwell, 10-8-11. The way he reared in the gate was a sign that he might not be ready today. Wise Dan to himself after rearing in the gate, "Just calm down, I may not be quite ready but screw it, I'll kick their butts anyway, young whippersnappers. Don't let a little thing like major surgery stop me. Piece of cake."

02 Sep 2014 10:05 AM

Thanks for sharing! Great photos and details. Only, I'm fairly sure Wise Dan wants a second career as my next Eventer. He's a monster with a helluva heart.

02 Sep 2014 10:14 AM

Excellent column Mr. Haskin, just excellent! I felt like I was there too. It takes a dedicated team to care for a racing Thoroughbred and I think Wise Dan has one of the best. Your photos brought the reader right into the midst of the action. I am in awe of Wise Dan.  He is an American treasure. I thank Mr. and Mrs. Fink for Wise Dan. They are a wonderful couple who know how blessed they are to have a horse like this. My respect and admiration for Charles LoPresti grows and grows as well. Congratulations to the entire Wise Dan team for a job exceedingly well done.

02 Sep 2014 10:43 AM

This is a love story, and I'm so happy that it is. I'm reminded of Federico Tesio's comment to let a horse teach you about yourself, for you may be at an age when no one else can. Owners, trainer, and staff should be proud of Dan and what his care has taught them about themselves . It is good to realize how devoted and loving these men and women are to the thoroughbreds in their care. I am reminded of Mr. Haskin's description of the death in his stale of my favorite Seattle Slew. The great horse was so loved and surrounded by those who knew and loved him the most. Dan reminds me of the courage of Slew who also overcame a life-threatening illness to come back and win again. Both Slew and Dan had and have great hearts. With such hearts what could this be other than a love story?

02 Sep 2014 11:13 AM

Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful - both the words and the pictures!!!  Thank you for sharing with us, Steve.  You're the best!!

02 Sep 2014 11:14 AM

Thank you for writing this chronicle.  Wise Dan is the best ... his name says it all!

02 Sep 2014 11:44 AM

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Steve for the day-in-the-life story of Dan.  Most of us will never get a chance to get that close to our horse stars, so this is a real treat.  

02 Sep 2014 12:05 PM

Great look into what "a day in the life" of Wise Dan is like.

So many of us on the"fan side" would never get to see our champs

behind the sceneses. Beautifully written,as aslways Steve..TY.

02 Sep 2014 12:43 PM

Wise old geldings, surgically scripting stories that only they can write, gladly going about their business with little fanfare (Dan's antics in the gate were probably not anticipated, but I'm sure Mr LoPresti will make the necessary investigation as to what caused them and take the necessary steps to curb them), their agenda not encumbered as is the reproductive members of the species (California Chrome, Pimlico infield-burden or blessing?) makes for genuine, honest efforts nearly every time they race.

Wise Dan is a treasure, the likes of which come along all too infrequently. Detailing this champions every move on race day, a treat that takes a true champion to convey-thank you Mr. Haskin.

02 Sep 2014 1:25 PM
The Doctor

Steve it was great running into you you at Jack Dillons Friday night, I only wish we had more time to chat! I was fortunate enough to witness the successful return of Wise Dan in person but for those who didn't they couldn't find a better description of his day and race anywhere. Coupled with your magnificent pictures you brought all of your readers to Saratoga for the day! Congrats, you're the best!

02 Sep 2014 1:27 PM
Hail No

I love it, you learn something everyday.  Dan is a "Dunker" :) Thanks very much for this, made my day!

02 Sep 2014 2:07 PM
Kimmons Mitchell

Haskin what can I say! You just keep getting better like a fine Wine! I am so glad to see the Great Wise Dan getting the Respect he so deserves, along with his Owner, Trainer and Great Team. He has so many Fans around the World that know what is passing in front of them and it is Oh so brief! I am Just so Thankful we are still getting to see the Great One run! God is Great! When Tom Durkin said as Wise Dan came to the Winners circle about him being a certain hall of Famer and the crowd gave such a roaring applauds! It was Great!!

02 Sep 2014 2:13 PM
Hail No

PS, Mr Haskin, I'd love to have a copy of Dan looking out the mesh, how can I go about getting a copy of pic? Thanks!

02 Sep 2014 2:20 PM

I don't agree with Reeve.  I think Wise Dan is the greatest thoroughbred since Secretariat.  He'll be mentioned in the same breath as Kelso, John Henry, and the other big hearted winners.

02 Sep 2014 2:51 PM

Mr. Haskin;

Just one word about your narrative, EXCELLENT!!!

I felt I was there with you.

02 Sep 2014 3:50 PM
Eric Rickard

What a day! It was awesome. The photo was never in doubt. Look forward to his next race.

On a side note, it was a pleasure to meet you at Saratoga.

02 Sep 2014 3:59 PM

Just love him!!!  What a win.  Must have watched it 10 times on replay.  Thank you for sharing his day and the great photos.

02 Sep 2014 6:53 PM

Loved it, an accounting of the race day of Wise Dan. The pictures completed a perfect day's diary. Such an inspiring horse & true champion.

02 Sep 2014 6:57 PM

Steve ~

This schedule of events in "A Day in the Life of Wise Dan" is what racing is all about and a remarkable timetable that represents moments of racing to treasure and cherish as is this outstanding specimen of thoroughbred - a true champion ~ courageous and classy; dominant and intelligent; brave and beautiful and showed the heart that fluttered not as he "dug-in" and took not only the incomparable John Velazquez on an amazing ride and win but also a concerned and sensitive Charlie LoPresti whom never subjected this professional to just a test of fate along with the Finks' that made the right decisions for this brilliant "Champion"of all hearts. Wise Dan has stolen ours and you Steve have presented to everyone here yours.  Thank you too, for an "amazing ride" at Saratoga where "Champions" give their hearts.

02 Sep 2014 8:43 PM

What a joy it is to read your essay on Wise Dan and to see the great pictures.  I would feel totally left out of horse racing if it weren't for Steve Haskin.

02 Sep 2014 9:19 PM

Thank you Mr Haskin for telling  us the life of a great

racehorse Wise Dan. What a wonderful comeback and you tell it so well.

02 Sep 2014 10:40 PM
Paula Higgins

Wise Dan has the most consecutive wins (13)on grass of any horse in the U.S. Manila was his closest runner up at 8(?). The conversation of whether he needed to run on dirt to really prove his greatness is over. He proved that on Saturday and then some. He is in the pantheon of greats now.

02 Sep 2014 10:48 PM
Tana Rae

Steve, you sure know a good story - and a good horse - when you see one.  Wise Dan continues to amaze me, continues to inspire me and continues to validate everything I love about this sport.  His owners, trainer, and everyone involved with him get and deserve my utmost respect.  

03 Sep 2014 1:52 AM
Love 'em all

This 'picture story' along with an account of the actual day's happening is just one of your best, Mr. Haskin.  Oh, and having Wise Dan as the main subject just made it perfect!  I've always wondered what took place the day of a race for the horse, so this was most helpful to the average fan like myself.  

The photo of the Finks heading to the winner's circle tells it all.  Cheers and congratulations to them and to all of WD's loving and caring folks.  We love our Wise Dan!   Thank you, Mr. Haskin.

03 Sep 2014 10:19 AM
Abigail Anderson

Steve: What a fabulous piece. Truly! I've been following Wise Dan since he first started out and finally I feel as through I know something about him! The photos worked so beautifully here -- they were another dimension of the narrative itself. And it always makes me so happy to read about the people "backstage" in these horse's lives, as well as all the little behind-the-scene details. So this one is a WOW! Thank you so much.

03 Sep 2014 11:47 AM
Steve Haskin

Thanks, everyone, for your comments. I had a lot of fun doing that. It was a pleasure to hang out with Dan all day. There is something about race day, especially a big-race day, back at the barn that brings you close to the horse and the help and all the tension that builds over the course of the day. Everyone was happy the Baruch was the 5th race. Thanks to all who gave freely of their thoughts and feelings the morning and afternoon of the race. And it was such a pleasure to be with Morton and Elaine Fink before and after the race. They are both wonderful people.

03 Sep 2014 12:38 PM

Awesome, Steve!  Thank you!

03 Sep 2014 3:57 PM
dance with fate

So thankful for this remarkable piece & lovely photos Mr Haskin. Shows the caring of & for Wise Dan & brings us closer to him. Wish you could publish a collection of your articles / photos.  Wise Dan - 'a heart full of soul'.  Love, love, love him.

03 Sep 2014 4:10 PM

A wonderful article about a wonderful horse. The MOST wonderful horse. Wise Dan continues to steal my heart with his goodness and his bravery.

It was so nice to be in on one of his days. Thank you.

04 Sep 2014 12:36 AM


04 Sep 2014 1:05 PM

It is so sad that this phenomenal horse is so under appreciated! What is it about milers (Frankel included) that the layman or even racing "expert" doesn't get? I agree - the average Joe Schmoe will not recognize his greatness for a few years. Their loss!!

Thanks for pointing out that he dunks his hay - a true sign of intelligence and probably helpful in keeping his colic as mild as it was.

04 Sep 2014 2:41 PM

ksweatman9, I agree, the Vox Populi!

04 Sep 2014 9:08 PM
Susan from VA

Love it!  Interesting about Optimizer and his trainer switch.

05 Sep 2014 10:10 AM
Linda in Texas

Anytime a horse helps keep a man alive and his wife exstatic, nothing much else left to say. Except words from The Great Early Starter Steve Haskin. Not being an early bird but a late owl, i admire your moxie for getting going so early in the morning to bring this hour by hour schedule of Wise Dan.

Thank you Steve. And thank you Wise Dan, you made two wonderful people as happy as they will ever hope to be. Continued Success and Good Health to all.

07 Sep 2014 3:46 PM

Halfway through this article I thought he was really my Horse!!!...Hope I can get back to the paddock with another one before I punt and thank you for the trip Steve...  

08 Sep 2014 10:54 AM

Beautiful narrative and photos perfectly complement each other.  Thanks so much for taking us backside.   Something about Wise Dan's story reminds me of Zenyatta.  Like Wise Dan, her connections were criticized for "carefully managing" her career.  She did all that was required and asked of her, and to most, she was perfect, but there still are some who "just don't get it". Like Zenyatta, Wise Dan "shows up" every time, doing what is expected. Wise Dan's recovery from a life-threatening illness was no less impressive that he did it with little fanfare.  Dan has done it all, and when time comes for him to  hang up his running shoes, he deserves to go into the Hall of Fame at his first eligibility.  He belongs with the greats.  

08 Sep 2014 12:14 PM

A beautiful piece of writing, Steve.  The words speak for themselves.  They are the lyrics.  The wonderful in-the-moment photos are the music.  It makes me realize how many lives even an "ordinary" racehorse touches, in the broadest sense of the word, in the course of a single day.  How many more do horses such as the remarkable Wise Dan!  I feel as if I have really met him for the first time.  Thank you for allowing us to be your silent companions, walking in the shadow of this great horse.

08 Sep 2014 6:30 PM
Susan from VA

When he retires, perhaps Wise Dan can go to the Kentucky Horse Park where his many fans can visit him.

08 Sep 2014 8:47 PM

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