JC / Railbird

Wise Dan

Young Dan

Wise Dan seems “strapping” now, easily dispatching rivals despite weight, weather, and rough trips, but he was once a maiden, looking a little green and eager. Partymanners has posted on YouTube the reigning Horse of the Year’s first career win (his second start), a 15 1/4 length romp at Turfway in 2010. “This son of a gun is either a freak or he’s crazy,” an exercise rider told trainer Charles LoPresti after an adventurous training gallop at Keeneland back then.

Wise Dan was given a Beyer speed figure of 101 for winning the Firecracker Handicap (replay). There are four possibilities for his next start, all at Saratoga — the Whitney, Fourstardave, Bernard Baruch, and Woodward. It would be a lot of fun to see him in the Whitney or the Woodward — he hasn’t raced on dirt since finishing second in the 2012 Stephen Foster.

“I’d like to win a Grade I on dirt with him this year,” LoPresti told the Churchill Downs press office. “If we get a Grade I on dirt with him and then keep him going and get a few wins on the grass and then get to the Breeders’ Cup, maybe he’ll get Horse of the Year again.” Sounds like a plan.

A Perfect 25

Why Black Caviar is the right horse for this moment:

In short, the vibe when you watch a Black Caviar race is one of assurance. The absolute certainty that Black Caviar is indisputably better than those around her.

This is no small thing. In this age of online commentary and social media, everything is up for debate. Everything can and will be refuted by someone, somewhere, and with venom.

You can’t troll Black Caviar.

She’s so freaky good, she converts even the skeptical: “[Black Caviar] takes us away from our daily grind … like some 21st century Pegasus.”

And now she’s 25-for-25, the winner of a record 15 Group 1 races in Australia after the T. J. Smith Stakes. “Her odds of $1.14 made her unbackable.” Did anyone care? “You’re beautiful,” they shouted when she entered the paddock.

More Black Caviar at Randwick on Saturday here, in this fantastic album posted to Facebook by photographer Bronwen Healy.

4/17/13 Update: Black Caviar has been retired.

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On Friday, Horse of the Year Wise Dan (pictured here in the post parade) returned a winner in the Maker’s 46 Mile at Keeneland (the odds were in his favor). He looked eager on the backstretch, but waited for rider Jose Lezcano’s cue to go. “He wanted to go on, but I wanted to slow him down,” said Lezcano. “I waited as long as I could, but he’s a champion, you know.”

The win was a relief to trainer Charles LoPresti: “I did not want this horse to get beat today. I would have been really sad if he got beat today.”

1:00 PM Addendum: Beyer speed figure of 99 for Wise Dan, via Dan Illman.

Odds and Ends

Is Wise Dan the best American horse in training? Sure, why not. He’s certainly one of the most versatile and interesting. You could call him freaky.

And this is a year in which there are several very good elite horses, but no standouts running historic campaigns.

The message is not that “the all-weather is a messy sandpit of intrigue and skulduggery,” but that the BHA is watching.

At Keeneland, all-weather means full fields. For the first three days of this October’s meet, the average field size is 10.8 (on both surfaces).

Of course, connections have many reasons to run at Keeneland. It’s competitive, and it draws a great crowd — that devours 6,000 pounds of bread pudding with 50 gallons of bourbon sauce per week.

[C]alls for medication transparency are not going away.” And they shouldn’t.

Racing’s economic indicators: Things are looking up.

Weekly IHA update: He’s not drowsy, like the other stallions.

Dan and the Man

With his win in the Woodbine Mile, Wise Dan has now won Grade 1 races on dirt and turf. If he can add a G1 win on synthetic (over which he’s already won a G2), he’ll join Lava Man as only the second horse to win Grade 1 races on all three surfaces. Getting the synthetic win might be tough — there aren’t many options on the calendar, and trainer Charles Lopresti plans to start his versatile gelding next in the Breeders’ Cup Mile — but maybe Wise Dan will find his way west for a synthetic surface G1 in 2013.

Superterrific and I have been talking about dusting off Omnisurface Stars — Wise Dan might be just the nudge to make that happen.

If you’re interested in more current stakes winners across surfaces, see Matt Gardner’s spreadsheet on SB Nation.

9/17/12 Addendum: “A versatile horse in today’s age.” Heck, yeah.