The most encouraging thing about two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan these days is also the most frustrating. Because if one were to look at his right front fetlock, they would see zero evidence of any ailment. And when the gelding swings his chestnut frame through trainer Charlie LoPresti's shedrow, he moves as sound as any of his companions.
But the latest set of X-rays taken on the ankle that suffered a non-displaced fracture at the bottom of the cannon bone last October show there is still healing to be done. And so while his rivals try to take advantage of his absence, Wise Dan spends his days walking the LoPresti barn, trying to get the injury he can't even feel to become non-existent.
Morton Fink's six-time Eclipse Award-winning gelding is still on a routine of walking under tack, being turned out in the roundpen, and standing on LoPresti's vibration plate in his rehabilitation from the injury that kept him out of last year's Breeders' Cup Mile, which he would have been attempting to win for the third straight time.
LoPresti stated that Dr. Larry Bramlage of Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital said the latest scans showed good blood flow to the fetlock but that the outside edges of the injury still needed to fill in more before they can declare Wise Dan 100 percent.
"It's definitely going in the right direction, the blood supply is there," LoPresti said from his Keeneland barn this week. "He does not know why he can't run. He thinks he can run.
"The biggest thing is if he doesn't heal 100 percent, he won't go to the track. Our goal is to get him back to the races ... but my biggest goal is to make sure that he has an ankle that for the rest of his quality of life he can do whatever he wants to — whether it be a pony horse, a jumper. And if he's not 100 percent he will go home and live out his days on my farm."
LoPresti said Wise Dan is slated to have another set of X-rays around April 24 and could resume jogging then if all looks good.
Bred and owned by Fink, Wise Dan has 23 wins from 31 starts including 11 Grade I triumphs. Friday's running of the Grade I Maker's 46 Mile will be the first one in three years without Wise Dan as he won that race in 2013 and 2014.