Wise Dan (KY)

Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez described Wise Dan as “the best horse I’ve ever ridden.” 

Painting of Wise Dan by Robert Clark
Inducted

2020

Foaled

2007

Sire

Wiseman's Ferry

Dam

Lisa Danielle

Damsire

Wolf Power

Breeder

Morton Fink

Owner

Morton Fink

Trainer

Charles LoPresti

Career

2010-2014

Earnings

$7,552,920

Racing Record

31

Starts

Year Starts First Second Third Earnings
Year Sts 1 2 3 $
2010 6 4 0 0 $187910 $187,910
2011 8 4 0 0 $731691 $731,691
2012 6 5 1 0 $2622037 $2,622,037
2013 7 6 1 0 $2751972 $2,751,972
2014 4 4 0 0 $1259310 $1,259,310

Biography

Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez described Wise Dan as “the best horse I’ve ever ridden.” 

Bred in Kentucky by owner Morton Fink, Wise Dan enjoyed one of the most accomplished careers of any North American racehorse so far in the 21st century. A chestnut gelding by Wiseman’s Ferry out of the Wolf Power mare Lisa Danielle, Wise Dan won 23 of 31 starts and earned more than $7.5 million from 2010 through 2014.

His achievements are simply staggering. Named Horse of the Year in 2012 and 2013, Wise Dan also won the Eclipse Awards for Champion Older Male and Champion Male Turf Horse in both of those years, becoming the first horse to win the same three Eclipse Awards in consecutive years. His 19 graded stakes victories include consecutive editions of the Breeders’ Cup Mile. He won on dirt, turf, and synthetic surfaces.

Historically, Wise Dan became the first gelding since Hall of Famer John Henry in 1981 and 1984 to be named Horse of the Year, and only the sixth horse in modern history to earn consecutive honors for Horse of the Year, joining Hall of Famer members Curlin (2007, 2008), Cigar (1995, 1996), Affirmed (1978, 1979), Forego (1974 through 1976), and Secretariat (1972, 1973).

Wise Dan’s bloodlines trace back to Hall of Famer Northern Dancer. His pedigree also includes Secretariat, the grandsire of Lisa Danielle. Both the sire and dam of Wise Dan had connections to Fink, who had been the managing partner of the ownership group that owned Wiseman’s Ferry. Fink retained a share in the horse when he went to stud. As for Lisa Danielle, she had raced for Fink and was named for his granddaughter. A $29,000 yearling purchase by Fink, he kept her for sentimental reasons when he dispersed all of his other broodmares. Wiseman’s Ferry stood for only $1,000 the year Wise Dan was conceived.

“You wait a lifetime for a horse like Wise Dan,” said his trainer Charlie LoPresti. “Most trainers never get one like him in their barn. I’m so fortunate to have him as part of my life. The more you’re around him, the more you realize how special he is. They just don’t come around that often, horses like him — the soundness of him, the ability. It’s just a dream come true to have horse like that.”

Wise Dan stamped himself as a superstar as a 5-year-old in 2012 when, after a five-month layoff, he romped in the Grade 3 Ben Ali Stakes at Keeneland, a scintillating 10 ½-length victory in track-record time of 1:46.63 for 1⅛ miles. He then put himself in the running for Horse of the Year with an impressive three-race stretch — a runner-up finish in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs, a five-length victory in the Grade 2 Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga, and a commanding win in the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile in Canada. Wise Dan then closed out his campaign and essentially locked up the Horse of the Year by defeating a top international field in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita.

As a 6-year-old in 2013, Wise Dan’s domination continued with five straight victories to start the year — including a trio of Grade 1s — before his nine-race win streak came to an end in the off-the-turf Shadwell Turf Mile. Wise Dan returned to Santa Anita that November and repeated in the Breeders’ Cup Mile to wrap up his second consecutive championship campaign.

“A horse like this,” Fink said, “is a miracle.”

Wise Dan was back as a 7-year-old in 2014 and went undefeated in four starts. He took Keeneland’s Grade 1 Maker’s 46 Mile in April and followed with a win in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic on Kentucky Derby day at Churchill Downs. Wise Dan then battled a bout of colic and underwent emergency surgery. He returned in late August at Saratoga and was all heart in winning a thrilling edition of the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch Handicap by a nose. Back at Keeneland that October, Wise Dan again win the Shadwell Turf Mile. An ankle injury, however, prevented him from an attempt at a threepeat in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. Wise Dan resumed training in 2015 as an 8-year-old with the Woodbine Mile targeted for his return, but a tendon injury less than a week before the race convinced Fink and LoPresti to retire their champion.

Wise Dan set three track records during his career. In addition to the aforementioned Keeneland mark, he also set the standard for a mile at both Woodbine (1:31.75) and Santa Anita (1:31.78). Along with the Breeders’ Cup Mile, Wise Dan also won the Firecracker Handicap, Fourstardave Handicap, Maker’s 46 Mile, Shadwell Turf Mile, Woodbine Mile, and Woodford Reserve Turf Classic twice each. He also set a record with seven graded stakes wins at Keeneland and won 17 of his final 19 starts (finishing second in the other two). Wise Dan’s career earnings of $7,552,920 are the highest for a gelding in North American history.

Fink, who died in 2019 two weeks shy of his 90th birthday, enjoyed the ride of a lifetime with Wise Dan.

“When you get to be my age, you need something to get up in the morning and look forward to,” Fink said in his 2012 Eclipse Awards acceptance speech. “This horse has made me so happy that I can’t even express it in words.”

Achievements

Eclipse Award Horse of the Year — 2012
Eclipse Award Champion Older Male — 2012
Eclipse Award Champion Male Turf Horse — 2012
Eclipse Award Horse of the Year — 2013
Eclipse Award Champion Older Male — 2013
Eclipse Award Champion Male Turf Horse — 2013

Breeders' Cup Highlights

Won the Mile — 2012
Won the Mile — 2013

Media

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