A Rare Racehorse

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By Tom LaMarra

Does it really matter in which race Wise Dan enters in the Breeders' Cup World Championships?

Not really. This is a horse that recovered from mid-season colic surgery to win two races, including the $1 million Shadwell Turf Mile (gr. IT) at Keeneland Oct. 4 in impressive style.

Wise Dan running in the Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland.
Anne M. Eberhardt Photo - Order Photo

"He looks like a million dollars this morning," trainer Charlie LoPresti said Oct. 5. "Make that $7.5 million."

The 7-year-old Wiseman's Ferry gelding, after his popular win in the Shadwell Mile, now has earnings of more than $7.5 million in 31 starts. Wise Dan has won 23 races, and at this point shows no signs of slowing down despite having been sidetracked this year.

The Shadwell Mile didn't go according to plan. Or did it? Quality horses make the most of adversity.

"Missing the break like he did actually worked to his advantage," LoPresti said. "He was in a position he is not normally in and they were going slow. He didn't really get to run until the half-mile pole or on the turn. He probably ran about three-eighths of a mile. He's not a bit tired this morning."

That assessment could spell trouble for horses pointing to the Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. I) at Santa Anita Park. Wise Dan won the race the last two years. The Shadwell Mile was a Breeders' Cup Mile "Win and You're In" race.

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Two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan, who broke his maiden at Turfway Park on Polytrack in March 2010, made his Breeders' Cup debut that year at Churchill Downs in the grade I Sprint on dirt. He finished an even sixth behind victorious Big Drama.

(I can recall talking to some people at Turfway the day he broke his maiden. We thought he would just make a great Polytrack horse. What fools we were.)

In 2011 Wise Dan finished fourth in the Shadwell Turf Mile, won the Fayette Stakes (gr. II) at Keeneland, passed on the Breeders' Cup and won the grade I Clark Handicap on dirt at Churchill.

He can handle the dirt at the grade I level. But Wise Dan is 15-for-16 on turf; he won his grass debut in the Firecracker Handicap (gr. IIT) at Churchill Downs at 14-1 in 2011. He hasn't been higher than 5-1 in 19 starts since the Shadwell that fall.

Plan on seeing Wise Dan in the Breeders' Cup Mile Nov. 1 at Santa Anita Park. And enjoy it, because he is a rare racehorse, with nothing left to prove.

Wise Dan at Keeneland for the Shadwell Turf Mile.
Anne M. Eberhardt Photo - Order Photo

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