There just is no stopping him. Wise Dan won for the ninth straight time and became the first two- time winner of the Ricoh Woodbine Mile (G1) on Sunday at Woodbine in track record time.
The gelding is now perfect in five starts this year and only has Game On Dude in his path to repeating as Horse of the Year.
The only problem is the two geldings will not face each other this year, with Wise Dan headed toward a repeat in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) while Game On Dude is headed toward the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), a race he has failed to win the past two years.
Game On Dude is also perfect this year, winning all five starts, last out taking the Pacific Classic (G1) at Del Mar by 8 ½ lengths. The Bob Baffert trainee will train up to the Breeders’ Cup Classic this year, which is at Santa Anita Park on Nov. 2.
Wise Dan trainer Charles LoPresti has received some criticism for not running a more “ambitious” campaign with his gelding, perhaps giving him at least one shot dirt at least once this year or going to the Classic.
He is a Grade 1 winner on conventional dirt and a Grade 3 winner on polytrack, but has raced exclusively on turf since coming up a head short in the Stephen Foster Handicap (G1) at Churchill Downs last June.
The gelding has won a pair of Grade 2 races and three Grade 1 races this year, so it is tough to argue that his connections are ducking anyone, and he figures to run into several tough Europeans in the Breeders’ Cup Mile.
Last year the gelding won the Woodbine Mile and then took the Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) at Keeneland before winning the Breeders’ Cup Mile. LoPresti said he is considering training Wise Dan up to this year’s Mile.
Eclipse voters will have a tough choice to make if both geldings win out. Wise Dan (if he skips the Shadwell Turf Mile) will have six wins on the year, four Grade 1’s and a pair of Grade 2’s.
If Game On Dude wins the Breeders’ Cup Classic he will have six wins on the year, also four Grade 1 wins and a pair of Grade 2 races.
There really is no three-year-old or female that could overtake the geldings for top honors in 2013. Different colts won the three Triple Crown races, and the top female Royal Delta has a pair of Grade 1 wins and a Grade 3 in five starts. Unless her connections decide to run in the Classic against the boys and she wins, she will have not done enough this year to win Horse of the Year honors.
Both six-year-olds appear as good as they have ever been. Game On Dude’s career top Beyer Speed Figure came in this year’s Santa Anita Handicap (G1) where he earned a 117.
Wise Dan has not come close to matching his career top of 117 this year, but his 108 on Sunday was his best of the year, and it appeared he could have run faster if jockey John Velazquez had asked him to.
It would have been great to have these two geldings decide it on the track and not at the ballot box, but as fans and horseplayers we should be happy we have two top class runners still laying it on the line as six-year-olds.
2013 Woodbine Mile Replay
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