TORONTO, January 18 – Wise Dan, who successfully defended his title in the $1-million Ricoh Woodbine Mile in September, repeated as U.S. Horse of the Year Saturday evening at the 43rd Annual Eclipse Awards held at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida.
In addition to being named U.S. Horse of the Year, Wise Dan, owned and bred by Morton Fink and trained by Charles LoPresti, captured the Older Male and Male Turf Eclipse Awards – – also repeat honours for the chestnut gelding.
Wise Dan was voted Horse of the Year over finalists Will Take Charge, who was named champion three-year-old male, and Mucho Macho Man, the 2013 Breeders’ Cup classic winner in a dramatic photo finish over Will Take Charge.
In 2013, Wise Dan won six of seven starts of which four were Grade 1 victories including a memorable track-record setting score in the Woodbine Mile on September 15.
Ridden by Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez in the Woodbine Mile, the reigning Horse of the Year tracked the tempo setters Excaper and Dimension before closing three-wide over a firm E.P. Taylor Turf Course, with three-sixteenths of a mile to run.
Racing under a hand ride, Wise Dan widened at will down the home straight, hitting the wire an effortless 3 1/2-lengths in front of Za Approval in track record time of 1:31.75.
John Velazquez in control aboard the great Wise Dan (Burns Photo)
Wise Dan was the first sitting Horse of the Year to compete at Woodbine since 1995 champion Cigar competed in the 1996 Breeders` Cup Classic.
In addition to the Woodbine Mile, Wise Dan also notched wins in the Grade 1 Maker’s 46 Mile, at Keeneland; the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic and Grade 2 Firecracker Handicap, at Churchill Downs; the Grade 2 Fourstardave Handicap, at Saratoga; and completed an impressive 2013 campaign by defending his title in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Mile, at Santa Anita.
His only 2013 loss came in the Shadwell Turf Mile which was rained off the grass and onto the synthetic main track following a deluge at Keeneland.
Wise Dan has compiled a record 19-2-0 from 27 career starts, with purse earnings of $6,293,610.
The Eclipse Awards honor excellence in Thoroughbred racing and are voted on by representatives of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Daily Racing Form (DRF) and National Turf Writers And Broadcasters (NTWAB).
For a full list of evening’s award winners, with vote count, visit NTRA.Com
Congratulations to all the connections! (Burns Photo)