Wise Dan's highlight reel
The title is a misnomer, since the future Hall of Famer deserves a much more thorough video tribute that we can provide here. So here's my personal list of Wise Dan's top six performances.
6. The Bernard Baruch (G2) on August 30, 2014. From my perspective, this warrants inclusion because of the circumstances of his victory -- his first start back from the emergency colic surgery he'd undergone about 3 1/2 months earlier. And he was toting the top weight of 127 pounds, spotting anywhere from eight to 13 pounds to his rivals. Wise Dan had an operation on his gut, but he was never lacking in them, as this near course-record effort attests:
5. The Firecracker (G2) on June 29, 2013. Wise Dan's scraping through the hedge under 128 pounds, in a driving Kentucky rain, instantly entered Churchill Downs lore:
4. The Ben Ali (G3) on April 22, 2012. Wise Dan simply would not be restrained early in this 10 1/2-length dazzler, in which he set a track record of 1:46.63 for 1 1/8 miles over Keeneland's Polytrack:
3. Breeders' Cup Mile (G1) on November 2, 2013. Even a stumble at the start couldn't prevent Wise Dan from joining such legends as Miesque, Lure and Goldikova as a two-time Mile winner:
2. The Woodbine Mile (G1) on September 15, 2013. Wise Dan won Woodbine's showpiece for the second straight year. While his margin of victory was just as emphatic as in 2012, he smashed the course record when zipping in 1:31.75 this time. Does it look like he's moving that fast to you? That's how silky smooth he is!
1. The Breeders' Cup Mile on November 3, 2012. Wise Dan's first Mile crown was not only accomplished in an other-worldly time of 1:31.78 -- both a Santa Anita course record and a Breeders' Cup Mile record -- but he defeated a world-class field. The runner-up was Kentucky Derby (G1) and eventual Dubai World Cup (G1) hero Animal Kingdom, with European stars Excelebration (fourth) and Moonlight Cloud (eighth) further back.
Of course, I could have included his romp in the 2011 Clark (G1) on the Churchill dirt, or either of his Fourstardave (G2) wins -- threading the needle in 2012 and lumping 129 pounds in 2013 -- but these were the races that came to mind.
For more on his glittering career, see our profile for the 2013 Eclipse Awards, when Wise Dan repeated as Horse of the Year, champion turf male and champion older male.
Breeders' Cup Ltd. Photo.