Champion Racehorse Wise Dan Undergoes Colic Surgery

Champion Racehorse Wise Dan Undergoes Colic Surgery

Wise Dan underwent emergency colic surgery May 16 at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital.

Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse

Editor's Note: This article was updated at 12:20 p.m. EDT to include additional information.

Two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan was taken to Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky, May 16 for emergency colic surgery, trainer Charlie LoPresti said.

The six-time Eclipse Award winner began to show signs of colic after a routine gallop at Keeneland Race Course, also in Lexington, the morning of May 16, and was transported to Rood & Riddle shortly therafter. Scott Hopper, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVS, performed the surgery, LoPresti said.

"He had a routine gallop, trained great this morning, and about an hour after training he started acting like he was uncomfortable in the stall," the trainer explained. "We medicated him and he didn't respond. Once we got him over to Rood & Riddle, they ultrasounded him and the vet saw a piece of small intestine he didn't like."

The 7-year-old Wiseman's Ferry gelding did not respond to attempts to ease the issue naturally.

"We got him out on the longe rein and tried to jog him around and he didn't work out of it," LoPresti said.

While Wise Dan was still in surgery, LoPresti called the issue "the best-case scenario for colic" after Hopper was able to investigate. He said after 3 to 5 days at Rood & Riddle, the champion runner should be able to return to his home base at Keeneland, "where he's used to his natural environment.

"He had a piece of small bowel that just looped over it was getting inflamed," LoPresti said. "If we didn't go in there and do it, he would have lost blood supply and it would have been a bad scenario; the only way to fix it was to do it this way."

Hopper expects Wise Dan to spend about 6 to 8 weeks on the sidelines at the most, but the incident should not prevent him from coming back to run again as long as he progresses well through recovery, LoPresti said. As of 12:08 p.m. EDT, Wise Dan was resting in the padded recovery stall at Rood & Riddle.

"I said, 'I don't care if he races again as long as you save his life,'" LoPresti said he told Hopper. "He said he doesn't think that's going to be an issue. I don't think it's career-ending."

Wise Dan, bred by owner Morton Fink out of the Wolf Power mare Lisa Danielle, has won 10 grade I races including the past two editions of the Breeders' Cup Mile and his most recent score, a repeat in the May 3 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs, in Lousiville, Kentucky. He has earnings of $6,802,920 with 21 wins and 2 seconds from 29 starts.

Originally published on

About the Author

Claire Novak

Winner of the 2011 Eclipse Award for Feature/Commentary and the 2008 Louisville Metro Journalism Award for Sports Writing, Claire Novak has melded her love for human-interest journalism and the equine breed into a successful Turf writing career. Since her first freelance article on racing was published at in 2005, her byline has appeared in the New York Times, ESPN The Magazine, and on, among others. She lives near Lexington and, when not writing about racing, can often be found jumping her Thoroughbred, Bob.

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