Morton Fink, owner of two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan, informed Breeders' Cup officials Oct. 13 that the winner of the past two editions of the Breeders' Cup Mile has developed a non-displaced fracture at the bottom of the cannon bone of his right front fetlock. The injury will prevent him from seeking a third Breeders' Cup Mile title for trainer Charlie LoPresti on Nov. 1 at Santa Anita Park, and will require at least 30 days on the sidelines.
LoPresti told Fink about the injury Oct. 12, and the connectons released information on the six-time Eclipse Award winner's fracture the following day.
"Charlie called me last night," Fink said. "He was scheduled to breeze in a few days and Charlie checked him over to be sure he was 100%. Unfortunately, Charlie noticed some swelling in his ankle and quickly decided to X-ray him to be sure everything was alright. The X-rays identified a non-displaced 'half-moon shaped' fracture of the bottom of the cannon bone in the (right front) fetlock.
"As a result, we have decided to withdraw him from the Breeders' Cup to allow the fracture to heal. Wise Dan has accomplished a lot in his career so far, and given us endless joy. We would never want to race him unless he is 100%. We thank Charlie and Amy (LoPresti) and their staff for everything they have done to get the horse where he is, and for being so conscientious that a little swelling was not overlooked."
Wise Dan's connections believe the injury likely occured in the Oct 4 Shadwell Turf Mile, which the 7-year-old Wiseman's Ferry gelding recently won at Keeneland. LoPresti said the injury showed up a few days after the race.
"On a lameness scale of one out of five, he's maybe a one. He's not even sore walking around the barn, just on the shank jogging," the trainer said. "He's not in any discomfort in any way, shape, or form.
"It's the hardest thing that I ever had to do, but I could never taken that horse and run him. Maybe he would have won the race, maybe he wouldn't be any worse, but now that I know, I just couldn't do that to him. He's meant too much to me and he's a tick off.
"I was just hoping he wrenched his ankle. If I looked and it was clean we would have breezed him, but not after seeing the fracture on the X-ray."
Wise Dan remains at Keeneland, where he is hand-walking twice each day. Eventually he will winter at the LoPresti's Forest Lane Farm near Lexington, as he does every season.
"He'll just hand-walk twice a day and stand on the vibration plate (as he begins to let down from training)," LoPresti said. "He's mad; he wants to go to the track. I wish it would have happened after the Breeders' Cup, but he's seven years old and he doesn't owe anybody anything. I'm sure it's just the wear and tear that catches up with them-we've been very fortunate we haven't had any major injuries with him so far."
Wise Dan's connections have not determined whether he will return to race in 2015. He will not require surgery.
"Charlie has had tough decisions to make and we are very grateful that he made them in the best interests of Wise Dan," Fink said. "Dr. (Larry) Bramlage recommends that we wait at least 30 days and assess his progress before we make any further decisions. He is seven years old, with 30 starts in his career, so we'll let him show us what to do next.
"This horse has been everything to me, especially with the various illnesses I've had the last 10 years. He's the best medicine I've ever had. They're telling me that the next 30 days will tell the story. If it grows back normally, we're okay. If it doesn't I will not run him unless he is 100%. He'll be retired if it doesn't grow back normal. If Dr. Bramlage says it will be perfectly safe to run him, I'll run him. But no other way."
Wise Dan, bred in Kentucky by Fink out of the Wolf Power mare Lisa Danielle, has won 23 of 31 starts, with 11 grade I wins and over $7.5 million in earnings. He added to his enormous stature this year with a perfect 4-for-4 campaign that was interrupted by colic surgery, but resumed without a hitch during the second half of the season. He won Keeneland's Maker's 46 Mile in April and the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic in May before undergoing colic surgery May 16. He hadn't missed a beat since returning, winning his comeback in the Aug. 31 Bernard Baruch at Saratoga Race Course, then earning an automatic Mile berth in Keeneland's "Win and You're In" Shadwell Turf Mile. He would have been bidding to become just the second horse to win three consecutive Breeders' Cup races-a feat accomplished only by Goldikova, who won the Mile three years in a row.
"We are very disappointed with the news this morning from Morton Fink that Wise Dan will not be able to defend his title before his many devoted fans at this year's Breeders' Cup," said Craig Fravel, Breeders' Cup president and CEO. "Over the course of his brilliant career, Wise Dan has demonstrated extraordinary prowess, grit and determination on the racetrack as a two-time Breeders' Cup champion and Horse of the Year. Morton Fink and Charlie LoPresti have campaigned a terrific racehorse, and all of us at the Breeders' Cup wish Wise Dan a speedy recovery."