STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN

HORSE OF THE YEAR: WISE DAN OVER ROYAL DELTA

MILE RECORD-SETTER WISE DAN FAVORED TO WIN HORSE OF THE YEAR

As the dust settled Sunday on racing’s biggest stage following the sixth presentation of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Santa Anita amidst the spectacular backdrop of the San Gabriel Mountains, the buzz on the backside was: Who’s going to be Horse of the Year?

Since the “leader in the clubhouse,” Game On Dude, fumbled the ball in the red zone by finishing seventh as the 13-10 favorite in the Classic, it opened the door for Wise Dan, who set a turf course record at Santa Anita, winning the Mile by a length and a half in 1:31.78, breaking the mark of 1:31.89 set by Atticus in 1997.

Said respected private clocker Gary Young, whose opinions are rarely under wraps, “Wise Dan over (the filly) Royal Delta. It’s that kind of year. Game On Dude dropped the ball. Wise Dan’s appearance in the paddock was unbelievable. He took on Europe’s second-best horse (Excelebration) and blew him off the race track (fourth by two lengths).”

Added former top jock and one of racing’s all-time good guys, Richard Migliore, now lending his expertise on HRTV, “It’s a good question, but I guess I would have to say Wise Dan. He’s run on turf, dirt, synthetic and his performance yesterday was amazing, breaking the track record. Yeah, I guess I’d have to go with Wise Dan.”

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert made the rounds at Clockers’ Corner as usual Sunday morning, facing the music despite a remarkable turn of events that saw none of his nine Breeders’ Cup starters win, among them Game On Dude.

There was levity in defeat, however.

Ron McAnally, who delights in using Baffert as a verbal punching bag, called over a reporter to ask whether he had seen a white-haired man (Baffert) on top of Mt. Baldy who was ready to jump--without a parachute.

With 55,123 fans on hand at Santa Anita Saturday and total wagering approaching the $100 million mark, all seemed right with the Sport of Kings. As the late, great philosopher Will Rogers once wrote: “A man that don’t love a horse, there is something the matter with him.”

FINISH LINES: Jay Cohen, Santa Anita’s popular bugler, missed the past few days at The Great Race Place due to a sinus infection.

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