Guest Column: The Power Of The Wolf

Guest Column: The Power Of The Wolf

21 January, 2013
– Lisa Barrett

Wise Dan. Image:

One of the highlights of the American racing scene is the prestigious Eclipse awards, held each January to honour those horses (and men) who’ve lit up the American racing scene over the past year.

The evening’s biggest winner was the brilliant Wise Dan, the 5 year old gelding son of Wiseman’s Ferry, who not only won Horse of the Year, but Older Male and Turf Eclipse awards as well, becoming the first horse since John Henry in 1981 to win all these awards in the same year. Wise Dan has blazed a trail of glory on the American racing scene, with wins in the Fourstardave (Gr.2) at Saratoga; the Woodbine Mile (Gr.1) at Woodbine; the Shadwell Turf Mile (Gr.1) at Keeneland, and the Breeders’ Cup Mile (Gr.1) at Santa Anita Park in November. In the Breeders’ Cup Mile, he broke a course record that had stood since 1989.

What is of interest to South Africans is that Wise Dan’s dam Lisa Danielle, is a daughter of the legendary Wolf Power. So much has been written about Wolf Power and his stellar racing career, he was a majestic grey with an air of something special about him, and from an early age, he stood out as a horse with that X factor.

Wolf Power. Image:

What made Wolf Power so special was his versatility from 1200m to 2000m. Bred by the famous Birch Brothers at their Vogelvlei Stud in the Eastern Cape, Wolf Power set the racing scene alight with his numerous Group victories: two Queen’s Plates, the Met, the Drill Hall Stakes just to name a few.

By the time 1984 rolled around there was interest from America in the charismatic grey, and his swansong race was to be the Schweppes Challenge. Sadly he never got the chance to show just what a great horse he was, a virus was found in his system and he was scrapped from the race. Shipped to America not long afterwards, Wolf Power became a useful sire, though he never got the mares or the books he should have. In the end he landed up siring 38 Stakes winners, with 400 winners from 18 crops and finishing with prize money of $25 million. Standing at the Beck’s Gainesway farm, he passed away at 24 in 2002 at the age of 24.

His legacy to racing is alive and well in Wise Dan and it would be nice to think that there are a few more like him out there lining up to emulate their enigmatic sire.

Lisa Barrett
– Guest Writer

“Lisa Barrett”, her psuedonym, currently works at a stud farm in the KZN Midlands. She is absolutely and totally crazy about horses and every aspect of them. She is fascinated by every aspect of the racehorse business, especially pedigrees and would like to one day write a book on her favourite sire!

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