Monday, November 12, 2012

Wise Dan: Brilliance Defined

With some paragraphs drawn from "Breeders' Cup 2012: Highlights" (11/10/12) and "Recent Remarkable Broodmares" (7/3/12)

Featuring one of the toughest fields of the weekend, the Mile did not disappoint as far as displaying the greatness of the Thoroughbred athlete was concerned. Among the horses in the force was a Kentucky Derby winner in Animal Kingdom, a horse who had been lurking in the shadows of Frankel in Excelebration, and a horse who needed no explanation as to the degree of his brilliance in Wise Dan.

Wise Dan
Photo by Terri Cage
As I had done for the Ladies’ Classic the previous evening, I stood along the wall of the tunnel as the horses entered in the Mile made their way from the paddock to the track. Each horse had a bounty of credentials to catch my eye, but my eye locked upon three main horses: Wise Dan, Animal Kingdom, and Excelebration.

As Wise Dan strutted past me, I focused on the regal chestnut, amazed by the sight of him. This was the horse that had put together one of the best, and certainly the most versatile, 2012 campaigns. My expectations were high for the stunning individual; despite the tough field, I anticipated the gelding would conquer the field en route to victory.

Wise Dan escaped the starting gate sharply, briefly taking the lead prior to allowing the front-running contingent to pass him as he settled along the rail in third as the field raced past the stands for the initial time and into the first turn. After a first quarter of 23.34, Wise Dan was just 1 ½ lengths behind the talented leader, Obviously, rating comfortably with John Velazquez aboard.

As a brisk half-mile of 46.16 passed, Wise Dan remained 1 ½ lengths off of the pacesetter, his sights set on the lead. As the field turned for home, Wise Dan was angled outwards by Velazquez, displaying his trademark turn of foot as he motored toward the lead. Showing an incredible will to win, Wise Dan – with a fierce look of determination upon his chestnut face – dug deep, accelerating mid-stretch to overtake Obviously as he powered home. A late run by 2011 Kentucky Derby victor Animal Kingdom threatened Wise Dan’s lead, but the remarkable horse denied all adversaries a victory, galloping under the wire 1 ½ lengths in front.

The 11.47 seconds in which Wise Dan completed the final furlong was impressive enough, but to the roar of the crowd, Trevor Denman announced that Wise Dan’s final time of 1:31.78 for one mile over the turf oval was a new course record at the Great Race Place. Upon his return to the frontside following the race, Wise Dan received a roar of praise from the crowd, receiving his purple and gold garland of flowers and a photograph in the winner’s circle prior to slipping away into the darkness of the tunnel yet again as he returned to the barn after his record-breaking triumph.
Wise Dan returning after his Mile victory
Photo by Terri Cage

By the multiple graded stakes-winning Wiseman’s Ferry, Wise Dan shares the same sire as the multiple graded stakes-winning Riding the River, a horse who Wise Dan ironically defeated in the Woodbine Mile Stakes (GI). Wiseman’s Ferry has had a rather nondescript stallion career, but is a son of Hennessy, a grade one-winning son of the great stallion Storm Cat who is responsible for siring such horses as the champions Grand Armee, Inglorious,
Johannesburg, and Special Duty. Of course, the Storm Cat sire line has been dynamic, as the great stallion was not only the sire of over thirty grade one winners, but has been a tremendous sire of sires – producing such stallions as Bluegrass Cat, Forestry, and Giant’s Causeway – and broodmare sire – yielding the dams of horses like the champions Folklore and Speightstown.

Wise Dan’s dam is the spectacular Lisa Danielle, who, though not very successful on the track, has been very lucrative as a broodmare. Lisa Danielle was productive immediately; her first foal, Our Royal Dancer, was a stakes winner. She later produced the multiple graded stakes-winning and grade one-placed Successful Dan and, of course, Wise Dan. Within less than two weeks of each other, both Successful Dan and Wise Dan scored in graded stakes races in Kentucky while setting new track records.

By the South African Horse of the Year Wolf Power, Lisa Danielle provides her offspring with the same damsire as the multiple grade one-winning Milwaukee Brew. Interestingly, Lisa Danielle’s broodmare sire is the great Secretariat, who was not only tremendous as a racehorse, but also as a damsire. Big Red is also the broodmare sire of such horses as the great Thoroughbreds A.P. Indy, Chief’s Crown, Gone West, and Storm Cat. Lisa Danielle also has power in her dam line, as her fourth dam is the Reine De Course mare Vali, who not only produced the tremendous racehorse and sire Val De Loir, but also foaled the dam of the graded stakes-winning Savannah Dancer. Lisa Danielle also features two crosses of the excellent broodmare sire Princequillo in her pedigree. Princequillo is not only the damsire of Secretariat, but also the champions Key to the Mint and Mill Reef. The son of Prince Rose was the leading North American broodmare sire an incredible eight times.

Wise Dan possesses two traces of the legendary Secretariat, a horse to which many have compared Wise Dan. Not only do the two horses possess the same rich chestnut coloring, but each horse is beautifully conformed and capable of winning on multiple surfaces. It is easy to find similarities between the two, both of which displayed the incredible turn of foot that can often be found in a horse of Bold Ruler descent.

Wise Dan seemed to bring to life the ancestors that grace his lineage in his Mile victory, posting one of the most magnificent victories on Breeders’ Cup weekend. As a gelding, Wise Dan will not be able to carry on his brilliance and spectacular parentage to offspring, but will be able to delight racing fans for at least one more year, leaving enthusiasts of the Sport of Kings awaiting more brilliance from the grand Thoroughbred.

Wise Dan
Photo by Terri Cage


  1. Mary, Once again I loved your story and how you write! EXCELLENT! I also wanted to tell you that you said that when you got into horse racing was when you saw Smarty Jones in the 2004 Derby... that was how I got into the sport as well! It is my earliest Derby memory and I will forever love it and never forget it. Thanks again for a great read!

    1. Thank you so much, Zee! I will always have a soft spot for Smarty Jones and his Derby victory.