Wise Dan, the 9-5 favorite in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile, justified his favoritism in defeating Animal Kingdom in course record time.
Ridden by John Velazquez, Wise Dan grabbed the lead from pacesetter Obviously at the head of the lane and opened up a large enough advantage to hold Animal Kingdom’s late charge at bay to prevail by 1 ½ lengths. Wise Dan covered the distance in 1:31.78, a new course record.
Owned by Morton Fink, Wise Dan, a son of Wiseman’s Gerry, is trained by Charles Lopresti. It was the fourth consecutive graded stakes win for Wise Dan, who has enjoyed a sensational year winning stakes races on traditional dirt tracks, over synthetic surfaces and the turf.
“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” said Lopresti, “but it’s an incredible accomplishment. It’s really the horse. He’s an incredible horse.”
Fink was justifiably proud of his charge in the post-race press conference.
“It’s hard to put into words,” Fink said, “but you’re in the business for forty years, and you know, you can do everything right and have the best of everything and then you get a bad trip and you lose. With this horse, and it’s almost crazy to say, it’s almost impossible to do that to him. As soon as he sees daylight he’s gone and nobody will beat him.”
Animal Kingdom, a son of Stonewall Farm Ocala stallion Leroidesanimaux (BRZ) and last year’s Kentucky Derby winner who had been off for 259 days after his second and most recent injury, was blocked from the far turn to mid-stretch and only got clear late in the race.
“They were going so fast early and I was stuck down inside,” said Animal Kingdom’s rider Rafael Bejarano. “I had no choice. Then I had to go in and out of horses. When I finally got to ask him, he gave me a huge kick. I only wish I could have asked him earlier. The winner (Wise Dan) got first jump on me. If it is the other way around, it might have been a different finish.”
Wise Dan/Benoit photo