• A Classic problem

    POSTED Oct 9, 2012
    photo courtesy Keeneland
    Whoever is running Wise Dan's Twitter account is banging the drum loudly for respecting the horse's connections for "doing right by the horse" in deciding to send the Grade 1 winner on both dirt and turf to the Breeders' Cup Mile instead of the Classic.

    And I certainly respect that, too. If the Mile gives Wise Dan and his connections the best chance to be competitive, make the stable profitable, preserve the gelding for a six-year-old season, etc. then it is absolutely without a doubt the race he should target.

    What I don't understand about the rhetoric is that everyone seems content to concede that Wise Dan is the best horse in the United States, which I don't understand at all given that going a mile on the turf has never been the division to prove that in this country.

    Yes, turf milers have more prestige in other countries, but that makes sense given that combination includes both a classic distance AND a classic surface in places like England, France, Ireland, etc. It is neither in the United States.

    This is absolutely a down year from a superstar standpoint, and Wise Dan has flashed as much talent as any other horse, but is a Woodbine Mile, Shadwell Turf Mile, Breeders' Cup Mile Grade 1 three pack better than what Point of Entry could accomplish by winning the Breeders' Cup Turf (Man O'War, Sword Dancer, Joe Hirsch, and Breeders' Cup)?


    As a three-time Grade 1 winner Wise Dan could certainly win Horse of the Year and champion turf male with a Breeders' Cup Mile win, but that scenario also requires other horses to lose. If Point of Entry wins the Turf then Wise Dan won't even win an Eclipse Award let alone the gold one unless he goes on to win the Clark (and at that point he'd be champion older male and Horse of the Year with Point of Entry retaining champion turf male honors).

    Let's be honest, if Todd Pletcher trained Wise Dan and kept saying "he is the best horse in the country" but kept running him in one-mile turf events, the blogosphere would erupt with accusations of "kid gloves" training and insults about the conditioner's ability to train for a classic distance.

    And again, targeting the race that is best for the horse's well being and efficiency of the stable IS always the right thing to do, bar none. The problem is not with the target but the ammunition. That Wise Dan has proved himself as the best in the country without racing in the best races and/or against the best horses is folly. For now he's the best turf miler, and that's it.

    Anonymous said...

    It sounds like a veiled criticism of Frankel; one could say that he has proved himself "without racing in the best races."

    Wise Dan did try 1 1/8 miles on dirt in the Stephen Foster and got beat in the final yards by the plodding Ron the Greek. His best distance is a mile (on dirt, turf or synthetic) and it's smart to keep him at that distance.

    Question: Why are Point of Entry's accomplishments better than Wise Dan's?

    Wise Dan has faced better company and been much more impressive in his wins so far than Point of Entry this season. He should be far ahead of him in the Horse of the Year race entering the Breeders' Cup.

    Anonymous said...

    I don't understand why the best horse in the world CAN be a miler, but the best horse in the United States CAN'T be. Why pass up a $2 Million race that you'll be 8/5 in to run in a race where he is not on his best surface or at his best distance? Since when does a brilliant miler have to do more to be proven great? Ever hear of Goldikova or Lure?

    Unknown said...

    A1: It still kills me that Wise Dan had to give weight to a Big Cap winner in the Stephan Foster. If Wise Dan wins that race, it's tough to envision a return to dirt. He'd have won two of these three races--Whitney, Woodward, or JCGC--and would be a huge favorite in the Classic. As for Point of Entry's accomplishments... in terms of quality I'd put them on par with Wise Dan, but Point of Entry does win the quantity award three Grade 1 wins to two. Also, Point of Entry has beaten better horses this year (Turbo Compressor, Little Mike, Treasure Beach) than Wise Dan has.

    A2: I'm willing to accept that Wise Dan is the most talented horse in the country, but I wouldn't deny Horse of the Year to a three-time Grade 1 winner that includes the Classic versus a three-time Grade 1 winner whose wins are all on turf.

    Anonymous said...

    In the Foster Wise Dan got taken out to the parking lot and continued out by jockey's urging as to avoid getting bumped. WD also had a horse to his right who then claimed he came out on him. Meanwhile Ron The Greek came up the rail and has not moved forward off that race. Although this article gives food for thought, WD is a gelding and connections point the horse for purse, not prestige or points. He has done everything that has been asked of him with heart and little disappointment.

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