Number 6. Wise Dan. This could be number one, but it’s on my mind at the moment so it goes as number 6. Simply another stellar season by the soon-to-be two-time Horse of the Year.
Two moments stand out. Watching the Fourstardave at Saratoga in front of the big screen with trainer Charlie LoPresti and his crew and watching the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita, again with LoPresti and his crew. In this game, there is never enough winning – especially as a writer – so sometimes you find yourself caught up with the emotion of the wins, the pride of the achievements. I try to watch the trainer watch the race, listen to his shouts, decipher his murmurs, analyze his posture and his emotion. That’s writing. Sometimes, I catch myself watching the race, then hugging the trainer – or being hugged by the trainer. In 2013, Wise Dan forced me to watch the race. The way he controlled the Fourstardave, grinding his way through tiring ground, then putting it to rest with consummate ease. The way he turned for home in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, worrying us, then switching to his right lead and in a stride, he put another big one to rest.
In a few short seasons at Saratoga, we’ve gotten to be old friends with LoPresti and his horses. He came to Saratoga with one horse the first year, we found him sitting on a tack trunk talking to his mother on the phone, he’s our kind of trainer.
My favorite moment this year? When LoPresti and I walked back to the test barn after the Fourstardave, just the two of us, away from the recorders, away from the cameras, away from the explosion. We got our shoes dirty.
I tire of the naysayers and knockers – horses don’t stick around, horses aren’t the same as they were years ago, the game has changed. Yes, indeed, things have changed. Then you see Wise Dan, you meet LoPresti and your faith – at least a little bit of it – is restored. I’ll tell my grandkids about a trainer named LoPresti and his horse, Wise Dan.
– Read the full story on walking with LoPresti here.
– Watch Wise Dan win the Fourstardave.
– Wach Wise Dan switch to his right lead in the Breeders’ Cup Mile.
– Read Number 10 on Sean’s list.
– Read Number 9 on Sean’s list.
– Read Number 8 on Sean’s list.
– Read Number 7 on Sean’s list.