photo courtesy Keeneland
Whoever is running Wise Dan’s Twitter account is banging the drum loudly for respecting the horse’s connections for “doing right by the horse” in deciding to send the Grade 1 winner on both dirt and turf to the Breeders’ Cup Mile instead of the Classic.

And I certainly respect that, too. If the Mile gives Wise Dan and his connections the best chance to be competitive, make the stable profitable, preserve the gelding for a six-year-old season, etc. then it is absolutely without a doubt the race he should target.

What I don’t understand about the rhetoric is that everyone seems content to concede that Wise Dan is the best horse in the United States, which I don’t understand at all given that going a mile on the turf has never been the division to prove that in this country.

Yes, turf milers have more prestige in other countries, but that makes sense given that combination includes both a classic distance AND a classic surface in places like England, France, Ireland, etc. It is neither in the United States.

This is absolutely a down year from a superstar standpoint, and Wise Dan has flashed as much talent as any other horse, but is a Woodbine Mile, Shadwell Turf Mile, Breeders’ Cup Mile Grade 1 three pack better than what Point of Entry could accomplish by winning the Breeders’ Cup Turf (Man O’War, Sword Dancer, Joe Hirsch, and Breeders’ Cup)?

No.

As a three-time Grade 1 winner Wise Dan could certainly win Horse of the Year and champion turf male with a Breeders’ Cup Mile win, but that scenario also requires other horses to lose. If Point of Entry wins the Turf then Wise Dan won’t even win an Eclipse Award let alone the gold one unless he goes on to win the Clark (and at that point he’d be champion older male and Horse of the Year with Point of Entry retaining champion turf male honors).

Let’s be honest, if Todd Pletcher trained Wise Dan and kept saying “he is the best horse in the country” but kept running him in one-mile turf events, the blogosphere would erupt with accusations of “kid gloves” training and insults about the conditioner’s ability to train for a classic distance.

And again, targeting the race that is best for the horse’s well being and efficiency of the stable IS always the right thing to do, bar none. The problem is not with the target but the ammunition. That Wise Dan has proved himself as the best in the country without racing in the best races and/or against the best horses is folly. For now he’s the best turf miler, and that’s it.