• Wise Dan Looks Vulnerable in the Firecracker

    POSTED Jun 29, 2013
    First of all, I wish to make it clear that I am not among those who believe that Wise Dan is — in any way — a faux champion. The first time I computed his pace figures, I knew he was something special.

    But upon looking at the past performances for Saturday’s Firecracker Handicap, I can’t help but wonder if, purely by accident, the ultra-conservative approach of owner Morton Fink and/or trainer Charles Lopresti is going to bite them in the… uh, rear.

    Look, it’s no secret that Wise Dan hasn’t been ambitiously spotted over the latter part of his career — many thought he should have contested last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf and many more believe his aim this year should be the BC Classic — but, so far, Fink’s and Lopresti’s “low-hanging fruit strategy” has worked.

    Wise Dan has continued to win races that have suited him — mainly, those contested at a mile to a mile and an eighth on synthetic and turf surfaces, where he is a combined 10-of-11 lifetime. And, although he didn’t exactly back into the 2012 Horse of the Year award, there’s no doubt that by concentrating on what he does best while others ventured into uncharted waters (witness Game on Dude in the 2012 Dubai World Cup), Wise Dan put himself in a great position to be everybody’s default choice when those waters inevitably drowned his competition (again, I refer to Game On Dude, who finished second-to-last on the Tapeta surface at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai).

    Mind you, this cherry-picking is not Wise Dan’s fault. Just like another recent champion (can you guess?), he can only do what he is asked to do — and one would have to be more cynical than Louis C.K. to assert that Wise Dan’s 2012-13 performances have been anything less than brilliant.

    However, this strategy is dependent on one thing: The would-be-champ must, as Al Davis used to say, “win, baby, win” (unless said champion has a bad start that, in the opinion of racing fans who’ve been around the game for 10 years months, resulted in a narrow loss).

    And that puts Wise Dan in an interesting situation on Saturday… because I think he’s vulnerable — and not in the good “I’m-looking-for-a-sensitive-guy/girl-who’s-not-afraid-to-show-vulnerability” kind of way (I’ve faked that often enough to know).

    Two things concern me about Wise Dan in the Grade II Firecracker:

    1) The -6 late speed ration, or LSR (see below), he earned in his most recent race, the Grade I Turf Classic, was the worst such figure he’s earned in his entire career on grass (which tells you how good this horse is). 

    2) Lea.

    (Click on image to enlarge)

    Let’s start with the former: Whenever I see horses, especially older horses, record an unusually poor LSR (“poor” being relative, of course) it gives me pause. Rachel Alexandra, Blind Luck, Havre de Grace… all of them earned lousy LSRs that signaled the end of their racetrack dominance. Obviously, I don’t think that Wise Dan is at that point (a -6 is still a very good number), but I do think it reveals an emerging chink in his armor.

    My second concern is more tangible. Simply put, Lea looks like an up-and-coming star.

    (Click on image to enlarge)

    The son of First Samurai is improving by leaps and bounds and makes his second start off of a layoff after what was arguably the best race of his career (albeit against inferior competition). What’s more, he gets 11 pounds from the defending horse of the year and, most importantly for bettors, should offer a square price.

    He also has connections that know a thing or two about toppling a champion… but that’s another story.

    FREE Weekend Handicapping Reports

    Those who follow me on Facebook and Twitter know that I have a new love in my life — and it’s not a pet, automobile or Justin Bieber (I’ve been a “Belieber” for years… not really).

    No, my new love is my Pace Profile Reports, which I’ve been gushing about for days now, primarily because they save me so much handicapping time — time that I can now use to post messages on various Justin Bieber fan pages… not really.

    Well, because I’m such a great guy (not really), I’ve provided links to some of those reports, as well as links to my Win Factor Report below. As I plan on selling one or both of these reports soon, feedback that doesn’t end in “and the horse you rode in on” is welcome.


    Pace Profile Reports

    Win Factor Reports


    Pace Profile Reports

    Win Factor Reports


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