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HRN Original Blog:
Zipse At The Track

Derby Dark Horses: News Pending and Windsurfer

It’s getting to be that time. The 2012 Kentucky Derby is finally within sight. Five more weeks, one more prep for the contenders, and not to be forgotten … one final Future Pool offered by the good folks at Churchill Downs. With all this in mind, it’s time to start looking for those horses that might run big on the first Saturday of May at attractive odds. Last year I was fortunate enough to tab Animal Kingdom as my top longshot, and this year I’m zeroing in on several candidates to take his place. Two such possibilities will be running this weekend in News Pending and Windsurfer. Neither have yet to crack my Down and Derby – Sweet 16, but there is reason to believe both may be primed for a big effort this weekend, catapulting them into a trip to Louisville.
News Pending (Harlan’s Holiday—Motivated Sreva, by Lear Fan)  Dale Romans 
In 2011, News Pending looked like a young horse going nowhere fast, but a trip south to Florida, and a little more time to mature has worked wonders for the Dale Romans colt. A $250,000 purchase last May, News Pending ran two sharp races this year on the turf before surprising as the runner-up to Union Rags in the Fountain of Youth. In his initial race of 2012, he stayed close to the pace throughout before kicking it into high gear late to win the nine furlong maiden turf race. Next came an interesting performance where he was way back early, before swinging out wide to finish with a burst while second to the highly regarded Exothermic. The performance in the 1 1/8 affair looks even better when you consider the son of Harlan’s Holiday finished the final furlong in approximately 11 seconds, or possibly even a shade below.
Sent off at nearly 30-1 against Union Rags, News Pending looked like a horse who still needs to figure out what his best running style will be. Going with Discreet Dancer early in the Fountain of Youth was a surprise, and one that looked destined to fail when the big horse went right by him coming out of the turn. Take note though, that he did come back to finish with plenty of run and easily went by the previously undefeated pacesetter to grab the place. In the Florida Derby, his connections have picked the most difficult of all Derby preps, but I like his continued improvement, and the fact that he has plenty of experience running two-turns. All morning reports have been glowing, so I believe he is just getting good at the right time. I do not expect him to win today, but don’t be shocked if he runs a big race.

Windsurfer (Speightstown – Surf Light, by Malibu Moon)  Todd Pletcher 
Speaking of horses impressing in his Florida morning works, Windsurfer appears to be a horse on the come. He’s only had three races to date, but has shown marked improvement in each outing. In his two races this year, he first overcame an awkward start to take command in a January maiden race at Gulfstream, before succumbing to the good Stealcase late, while finishing a pole in front of the rest of the field. Most recently he was a smart 2 ½ length winner of a 1 1/16 mile, maiden race six weeks ago, despite being forced well wide going into the first turn. The second place finisher that day was also well clear of the rest, and has since come back to break his maiden. Meanwhile, Todd Pletcher has opted to be patient with the son of Speightstown, while looking for the right spot for his next race. In kind, Windsurfer has been nothing short of impressive in a series of workouts at Palm Meadows Training Center.
The clearly flourishing colt allowed Pletcher to shoot high and enter him in a wide-open, full field for Sunday’s million dollar Louisiana Derby. Clearly graduating from a maiden race to this kind of competition is no easy task, but this is the time of year when horses start getting good and make rapid progress up the class scale. I expect Windsurfer to be a good example of this. He has faced pretty good horses already, so the jump up may not be as severe as expected. With no clear standouts in the field, I like his chances to prove how well he is doing, and pull off the upset tomorrow at Fair Grounds.


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Older Comments about Derby Dark Horses: News Pending and Windsurfer ...

A winning weekend, or a losing weekend ... it all depends on Windsurfer.
Advice, Hold Me Back, Endorsement. Watch out for Winstar always.
if he can catch Cigar Street
I heard Elliot Walden of WinStar on the radio. He and Pletcher are very excited about Windsurfer. They love how he has been training and that they have taken their time with him.

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Meet Brian Zipse 

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, and American Pharoah. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. 

As Editor of Horse Racing Nation, Brian authors a daily column as Zipse at the Track, or ZATT for short, adds his editorial flare to the overall content of the website, and co-hosts the popular racing show, HorseCenter. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves as the President of The Exceller Fund.

Brian's work has also been published on several leading industry sites. He has consulted for leading contest site Derby Wars, is both a Hall of Fame and NTRA poll voter, and is a Vox Populi committee member. 

A horse owner and graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.


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