Wise Dan scored a repeat win in the 2013 Breeders' Cup Mile. (Photos courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire)
The newest hero in racing, Wise Dan has captured the attention of racing fans across North America and beyond over the past two years.
The 2012 Horse of the Year continued his domination of the North American turf in the Breeders' Cup Mile on Nov. 2 when he scored a repeat victory.
Wise Dan showed potential in his early races, breaking his maiden in his second start by 15 ¼ lengths on his way to a 3-race win streak that included the Grade 3 Phoenix Stakes.
His first Breeders’ Cup appearance was in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Sprint, but he finished sixth, beaten by less than three lengths, in the race.
During the 2011 season, Wise Dan flourished after running on the turf for the first time in the Firecracker Handicap and winning the race. The gelding continued to race in stakes races, with a fourth-place finish in his return to the grass two starts later against champion Gio Ponti. He would not finish off the board in 11 subsequent starts.
Wise Dan won on a synthetic surface, dirt, and turf in 2011 with his biggest win coming in the 2011 Clark Handicap, but 2012 proved to be an even better year for the gelding.
He won the Ben Ali on Keeneland’s synthetic surface in his debut that year, setting a new Keeneland track record, before finishing second in a roughly run Stephen Foster Handicap on the dirt at Churchill Downs. The Stephen Foster was the last time Wise Dan didn’t see the winner’s circle as his connections moved him exclusively to the turf where he became unbeatable.
His first win in the streak came in the Fourstardave Handicap, which he won by five lengths. He then went to Canada where he won his first start outside of the United States. Wise Dan took home three Grade 1 victories in 2012, ending with a course-record breaking performance in the Breeders’ Cup Mile against some of the world’s best turf milers.
WISE DAN WITH HIS BLANKET OF FLOWERS AFTER WINNING THE BREEDERS' CUP MILE
This year at age six, Wise Dan has continued his roll, winning four more Grade 1s and two Grade 2 events in seven starts. Wise Dan also added to his record-setting résumé when he ran a time of 1:31.75 in this year’s Woodbine Mile, taking nearly a tenth of a second off the previous record.
“He’s a great horse. I mean he is a dream come true. He makes us very proud,” LoPresti said. “What he does for the fans and what he does for us, all my team that’s worked with him, Mr. Fink is the breeder, the mare, all the awards we got for breeding and the mare. He is just a dream come true. What a wonderful horse.”
Wise Dan is by the multiple Grade 3-winning stallion Wiseman’s Ferry. A younger sire, Wiseman’s Ferry has sired 286 foals in seven crops of racing age with 167 winners and four champions through Sept. 17.
Wiseman’s Ferry started his racing career in Europe but showed more promise when he moved over to the dirt surface in America.
Wiseman’s Ferry made an attempt at the Triple Crown but finished off the board in the Belmont Stakes before rebounding In the West Virginia Derby two starts later. Showing that Wise Dan is a true homebred, his breeder Morton Fink also co-owned Wiseman’s Ferry during his racing career and still owns part of the stallion.
Wise Dan’s dam, Lisa Danielle, was bought by Fink as a yearling in 1995 for $29,000. Lisa Danielle won only one of her seven starts but has become a much better producer in the breeding shed. Her second foal, a filly named Our Royal Dancer, won a minor stakes and is the dam of a multiple group-stakes-placed filly in South America. Eight of Lisa Danielle’s 11 foals have gone on to win on the track with all but two of those winners victorious in more than one race.
Wise Dan’s most famous sibling is Successful Dan. A track-record setter himself, Successful Dan is a multiple Grade 2 winner who is Grade 1-placed.
Wise Dan is considered the top turf horse in the country and Successful Dan is among the top dirt handicap horses in the country, showing how dominant Lisa Danielle is as a broodmare.
WISE DAN WINNING THE 2013 WOODBINE MILE
It is little surprise that both horses are good on the dirt and Wise Dan is successful on the turf as there are multiple champions in all four generations on both surfaces in Wise Dan’s female family. Wise Dan’s pedigree is definitely an international one with a Filly Triple Crown winner in Panama under his second dam and a European Broodmare of the Year just one generation later.
Wise Dan has eclipsed all of his connections’ expectations for him and if he keeps on rolling, there’s little doubt that he will be compared with many of the all-time great geldings in the sport.