We Have More than One Hero

This is the other horse racing star

Handicapper Art ParkerBy Art Parker

Imagine a sixty year old man getting excited reading his email. No, it wasn’t an invite to an online dating service featuring young, hot blondes from Sweden. It was my morning dose of The Blood Horse, an old friend that I read either in print or on the world wide box. The news was terrific. It was about another old man.

This old man has four legs with a reddish, copper exterior. His name is Wise Dan.

I read the news report that Wise Dan had his first workout in eight months, which was at Keeneland. We knew he was doing well after his injury last year, but for me I was anxious to hear of his first official “breeze” for a published time. That’s when I would know that he is truly on the way back.

It wasn’t just the fact that he had an official work. It was the fact that his work was solid and he did it with the ease of a champion.  This is what The Blood Horse told us, “The 8-year-old Wiseman’s Ferry gelding took to the Lexington oval’s turf course at about 10 a.m. ET and breezed four furlongs between the dogs in :48 1/5. Wise Dan galloped out in 1:01 3/5.” The old man went so well that his exercise rider thought he covered the half mile in about :50 seconds. The rider said he was really relaxed, settled and traveled very easy.

Of course I would not expect anything but a good work. If Wise Dan was healthy he would go for a spin and do it without breaking a sweat. He would do it with enthusiasm and enjoy himself. Apparently that is what happened. And there was never a doubt in my mind that trainer Charlie Lopresti would do the right when it came to Wise Dan – never a doubt.

So here we are. With Wise Dan receiving the proper care and getting cranked up for a campaign. I don’t bet on Wise Dan because he presents no value at the windows. But I love to watch him run and win. He is our current day Forego and John Henry. He is an old gelding, the same type that fills our racing cards at our tracks every day. The same type that can be claimed for $5,000 when they are seven or eight years old. And every time the gate opens they give their all. The difference between claimers and Wise Dan, Forego and John Henry is that we see the big name guys on TV and they make a ton of money for their owners.

We may have a new Triple Crown winner. One that is a new hero. One that will, hopefully, bring us new patrons. I think American Pharoah will do his job and create new interest in racing. I hope so.

In my opinion, Wise Dan is a hero of equal or greater proportion to American Pharoah. Wise Dan has been showing up for work for years and years. He is one that maintains the interest of those that have been going to the track forever. Wise Dan is a longtime hero and will probably stay that way, and with all due respect, American Pharoah is still just a kid with a crown on his head.

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About Editor

Rich Nilsen is an 18-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), an event he has cashed in four times. He was the first player to finish in the top 10 of the NHC twice. A former executive with Brisnet.com and a member of the NHC Players’ Committee, Rich is a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program and is founder of AGameofSkill.com, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

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