By Art Parker
The Eclipse Awards have been distributed to their proud owners. As usual, the list of winners covers champions that won on turf or dirt, males and females, older and younger. The big enchilada on the list, Horse of the Year, failed to find a new owner, and stayed with the winner from 2012.
Wise Dan has demonstrated his greatness consistently over the past couple of years. He hit an Eclipse Award trifecta two years running by capturing the same three honors in 2012 and 2013: Horse of the Year, Champion Turf Horse and Champion Older male. In those two brilliant seasons he won 11 of 13 races and the Breeders’ Cup Mile. He has won at several different venues in America and even won in Canada. He has won 19 of 27 starts and earned over $6 million thus far in his outstanding career.
Wise Dan is a seven year old gelding. Like an old ball player that can still smash home runs and steal bases, Wise Dan has defeated foes of all ages that challenged him. I hope to see him run and whip the competition as long as he is healthy. Wise Dan has great connections with owner Morton Fink and an exceptionally talented trainer in Charles Lopresti. If Wise Dan keeps on running, and as of now that is the plan, then his connections will make sure he is up to the task and no unnecessary risks will be taken with the great champion.
It’s easy to love thoroughbreds but it is really easy to love one like Wise Dan. It is a beautiful sight when the gorgeous chestnut rolls down the stretch, heading to victory, late in the afternoon with the sunlight glistening on the turf. You sense that he is having a ball, doing what he was born to do and doing it because he loves it.
Of all his many successful outings the one that will always stand out will be last year’s Woodbine Mile. There is something about the greatest of the greats that causes a certain exhilaration within the observer. On that day Wise Dan caused me to lose my breath for a few moments. He showed his professionalism and class. He followed orders from his rider, John Velasquez, and demonstrated what a real race horse is supposed to do. His running seemed effortless, his poise showed he was a master of his trade, and he gave a little bit of run late in the game to make sure the job as done even though it wasn’t necessary. Velasquez was probably napping the entire trip since he really had nothing to do other than stay on the back of the champion. When the timer stopped, and the proceedings were validated as taking less than one minute and 32 seconds, I knew that I witnessed one of the best performances ever.
Wise Dan comes from humble beginnings with a lower price sire in Wiseman’s Ferry, but that has not stopped him from growing up to become a king. He reigns once again as the top banana in the show known as thoroughbred racing. And it wouldn’t surprise me if he does it all again. I hope he does, because Dan is, well, he’s our man.