If you pick up any newspaper, magazine, or dial up the web and have the universe at your finger tips. There is always a story behind the story. For this handicapper, it has been one helluva’ year! I sure hope as we close in on Breeders’ Cup, we start getting the busy butterflies in our stomach, and count the seconds until post time. As with every great story, there are others that can be filed under personal introspections, or the brighter side of being sad.
Good, Great, and Incredible!
This year I was asked to be a part of the Belterra Park team by John Englehardt. To say I was happy would be an understatement. Getting to be around racing and old friends was surely a very good thing. I filled in as track announcer at River Downs when Jason Beem left for other racing opportunities, and the search for Pete Aiello was under way. I had the one-of-a-kind opportunity to fill-in for Mike Battaglia when his grandchild was born. To have the chance to strap on the headset and call the races at the new Belterra Park was more than great. I had no high powered goals, and all I wanted was to improve a little bit each day. Being around supportive friends, getting to see longtime racing friends and making new ones could only be described with one word. – INCREDIBLE!!
Upon hearing about Wise Dan’s defection from the Breeders’ Cup was a sad moment. Then I got to thinking about the one-of-a-kind warrior I had the opportunity to watch and wager. He was preparing to defend his title when he sustained a fetlock injury. Owner Morton Fink put in a way that me see the other side of the coin in the Vegas Insider article.
“Wise Dan had been preparing to defend his title in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita on Nov. 1. Fink said trainer Charlie LoPresti checked Wise Dan ahead of a scheduled breeze this week and noticed swelling in the horse’s ankle. The fracture was confirmed in an X-ray. ”This is not a fracture that can be helped with surgery; he has to heal it on his own,” said Fink, adding that he has been advised to wait 30 days to see if the horse heals. ”We won’t decide if he will return to training until we see if he heals perfectly because he has nothing left to prove,” Fink said in a statement. ”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 percent.”
How can we be sad? We had the pleasure of watching one of the tough guys ply his trade with grace and agility. If you saw his last race in the Shadwell Turf Mile, you would have probably questioned his chances to win shortly before the quarter pole. If you watched closely, you had the rare opportunity to watch a horse dig in and find that hidden gear to propel him to the winner’s circle. I drew a deep breath, and thanked the Racing Gods. If he were a boxer, he would be Mohammed Ali with swift punches that appeared out of thin air, until they knocked off your block. If he played baseball; Curt Shilling with his bloody stained sock on the mound or Kirk Gibson limping to the batter’s box as he sent the ball sailing over the wall in the 1988 World Series. – There could be a million comparisons, but there was only one Wise Dan. I’m sure glad we got to see his brilliance.