Two-time defending Horse of the Year Wise Dan will miss his run at a third consecutive Breeders' Cup Mile win next month due to a non-displaced fracture at the bottom of the cannon bone of the right front fetlock, owner Morton Fink informed Breeders' Cup officials Monday.
Fink, who also bred the 7-year-old Wiseman's Ferry gelding, said trainer Charlie LoPresti called him Sunday night to inform him of the champion's ailment. LoPresti has noticed swelling in the right front ankle and subsequent x-rays identified a non-displaced "half-moon shaped" fracture of the bottom of the cannon bone.
Fink said the fracture will not require surgery and that Dr. Larry Bramlage of Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital recommended they wait at least 30 days and assess Wise Dan's progress before making any further decision on whether he can return to racing.
"This horse has been everything to me, especially with the various illnesses I've had the last 10 years," Fink said Monday afternoon. "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 percent in any kind of race. He'll be retired if it doesn't grow back normal."
Wise Dan had just notched a stellar 1-length victory in the Grade I Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland on Oct. 4, his second win since returning from emergency colic surgery on May 16. LoPresti said the chestnut gelding would be hand walked "as many times a day as we want him to" as part of his recovery.
"He's not in any kind of pain, no one would even know it to watch him walk" LoPresti said. "I just noticed he was a little bit off in his right front when we jogged him. He's going to be fine, I know he will be fine. He doesn't even know there is anything wrong with him.
"The biggest thing is I don't want him to get hurt. The most important thing to me is he is still standing."
A six-time Eclipse Award winner, Wise Dan began his 2014 campaign with victories in the Grade I Maker's 46 Mile at Keeneland and Grade I Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs before being felled by a bout of colic.
The colic surgery ended up being a best-case scenario given the situation as Wise Dan did not have to have any portion of his bowel resected.
The champion gelding made a complication-free recovery and notched his comeback victory in the Grade II Bernard Baruch Handicap at Saratoga on August 30, winning that test by a nose over Optimizer. He then followed that outing with his win in the Shadwell Turf Mile where he recovered after missing the break.
"It's hard to put into words but he's certainly lifted me up," Fink said of his charge. "He certainly took me to a place where I was feeling really good. If Bramlage says it will be perfectly safe to run him, I'll run him. But no other way."
Wise Dan has won 23 of 31 career starts including 11 Grade I triumphs and has career earnings of $7,552,920. He was attempting to join the champion mare Goldikova as the only horse to win three consecutive Breeders' Cup races.
"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," added 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.
"All of us at the Breeders' Cup wish Wise Dan a speedy recovery."