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HRN Original Blog:
Zipse At The Track

I Am Impressed

As we spin out of the far turn and head to the homestretch of the 2011 racing season, take a look at which performances have impressed me the most so far…
1) Havre de Grace - September 3
She didn’t just beat the boys, she dominated them. By becoming only the second ever female to win the prestigious Woodward Stakes, Havre de Grace struck yet another blow for the fairer sex in thoroughbred horse racing.
2) Tizway – May 30
Always a talent, but never quite able to put it all together, Tizway finally did it in the Met Mile. His performance was as impressive a dirt mile as we’ve seen in years, and oh yeah, 1:32 and change is smokin’!
 
3) Big Drama – January 15
I love when a champion comes back another year to strut his stuff. That is exactly what Big Drama did this winter in a Mr. Prospector romp, and get a load of that year best Beyer of 120.
 
4) Blind Luck – July 16
Race of the year so far? It has to be the Delaware Handicap. Blind Luck is as classy and as gutsy as they come, and when she beat her foil Havre de Grace in a thrilling stretch battle, it became an instant classic.
 
5) The Factor – August 28
In a short career filled with impressive performances, I was most impressed with The Factor’s return race in the Pat O’Brien. That afternoon, he made a testing pace and first try against top older horses look like little more than a stroll in the park.
 
6) Winter Memories - July 27
You want to see a 2011 example of overcoming things to win going away? Winter Memories’ romp in the Grade 2 Lake George fits the bill. Word is railbirds were stricken with whiplash after watching her late rush.
 
7) Havre De Grace – April 15
If there was any doubt as to whether Grace could carry over her excellent 2010 form to this year, the Azeri Stakes answered with a resounding yes … and then some. Blind Luck simply could not keep up with her on this day.
 
8) Cape Blanco – August 13
If the Man O’ War was an introduction, the Arlington Million was an exclamation. In thoroughly undressing his Million foes, Cape Blanco announced himself as the horse to beat in the Breeders’ Cup Turf.
 
9) Acclamation – July 23
He may have become a big name with a win in the Pacific Classic, but it was Acclamation’s dominant performance in the Grade 1 Eddie Read that made me believe he is one of America’s best horses.
 
 10) Tizway – August 6
What’s in a time? For the 2011 Whitney, the answer is absolutely nothing. Tizway backed-up his huge Met Mile, by easily beating the strongest field of older males that have run this year.
 
11) Maclean’s Music – March 19
I am placing myself open for much criticism with this high rating, and yes I know it is his only race to date, but his Santa Anita maiden win, with a 114 Beyer rating, has me simply dying to see his 2nd race.
  
12) Animal Kingdom – May 7
Say what you will about this year’s crew of 3yo males, the Kentucky Derby performance turned in by Animal Kingdom, in his first race on dirt no less, was both impressive and decisive.
 
 13) Trappe Shot - June 11
It’s not easy to overshadow the final leg of the Triple Crown, yet that is exactly what Trappe Shot did with a pure display of speed and talent in the True North.
 
14) Flat Out - July 2
He may have run second to Tizway and then Havre de Grace at Saratoga, but before that a runaway come-from-behind win in Belmont’s Suburban Handicap was visually devastating.
 
15) Stacelita - August 13
If you wondered who the best older turf female in the nation was, this French import swiftly ended the discussion with a seemingly effortless stroll in the park in the prestigious Beverly D.
 
16) First Dude – July 9
The Dude may be gone, but he should not be forgotten. In Hollywood’s biggest race, First Dude needed to muster everything he had in him to get up on the shadow of the wire to defeat Game On Dude and Twirling Candy.
 
17) Royal Delta - August 20
Who is the best 3yo dirt filly in America? That question was answered with an exclamation point when Royal Delta decimated an excellent field in Saratoga’s historic Alabama Stakes.
 
18) Stay Thirsty - August 27
The time may have been average, and his top competition may not have run their best, but his easy win in the Travers was the one that tipped the 3yo championship scales to Stay Thirsty.
 
19) Treasure Beach - August 13
Banned may be the most accomplished 3yo turf male in America, but in the Secretariat Stakes, Treasure Beach left little doubt he is the better horse.
 
20) Inglorious – June 26
I really don’t care that she is winless in America. Blowing by the best Canadian bred males with ease, in the nation’s most important race, earns a spot on this list for Inglorious.

 

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Older Comments about I Am Impressed...

Shackleford is SLOW at any distance but plze I can use the dead money in the pool.
Shackleford is being underestimated again, I hope Romans gets smart and goes for the mile.
I agree that CD might be too tiring for Flat Out going 10F. He has a good burst of speed though and maybe the milel should be the race.
he has speed but no stamina as pointed out by his races on a fast track as opposed to a tiring track. Combining both is the trick if your going to run at Churchill which I don't believe he is strong enough for.
The Belmont track on July 2 when the Suburban was run was playing fast, but not spectacularly fast. In the Dwyer, Dominus ran the 8.5F in 1.41.3, 2-1/5 over the track record and was given a 98 Beyer. The Suburban though was run in 1.46.3, 1-1/5 off the track record and Flat Out got his 113 Beyer. He also won the race by a widening 6 ½ lengths which shows that maybe he really does favor Belmont. He did show that he has some class in the Whitney because several of the top eastern horses were behind him. It’s interesting to know that in two tries at Churchill, he finished 6th both times so maybe he likes the Belmont surface best. I also think that given his breeding, sire and dam, that maybe he might be better at a mile than 10F.
Considering Flat Out was bad on a fast track(Belmont) ? 1:46.64 for a 1 1/8, 113 Beyer. Yeah, your probably right, he can't get two turns. What was I thinking?
icyhotboo- I think that was sort of the point that Laz was trying to make and got jumped on, so to speak. He ran well in the Suburban against lesser, but it was at Belmont around 1 turn. He's not a world beater by any means. But he's not horrible either.
Considering Flat Out was bad on a fast track(Belmont) and a tiring track(Saratoga) I'd say he just isn't much as horses go.
Good point Footlick. Maybe Flat Out really didn't care for the Saratoga surface. The Whitney track was dead. The 9F were run in 1.52.43 and the Woodward in 1.49.18, quirky because the winners each received a 111 Beyer. Flat Out still ran second in both races, but he wasn’t anywhere near as fast as he was on the Belmont track.
Shouldn't the question be whether Flat Out was the same horse at Saratoga that he was in the Suburban. I don't think he really cared for the Saratoga track. He ran solid but not spectacular races. So the horses that beat him also ran solid races, but probably not spectacular.
Actually, Lazmannick, is wanting to say, "buddy". Sometimes, I'm a typing fool, when I'm trying to say what I want to say. All I'm going by is the final 3/8's. Your description of hanging probably comes within that mark, but, according to the charts(is what I look at), is reflective of the numbers I presented to you). Nevertheless, you are correct, I am one that is pulling for this horse, & I don't think it's far-fetched that he can accomplish this goal. May his odds by HUGE, and may you join me in the Winner's Circle(ha!!!!)
CauseForConcern. Obviously you like Flat Out. I have no one that I'm favoring in the BCC other than I would sure like to see one of our horses step up and kick butt with an impressive race. If Flat Out is the one I will be cheering for him.
CauseForConcern. Actually you are right “budding”. What is a budding anyway? I wouldn’t say that Flat Out was rolling. In the Whitney he made a big move to get to within 3 lengths of Tizway at the 8th pole and was 3 lengths behind Tizway at the finish. He hung in the stretch. In the Woodward he made a move to get within 2 lengths of HDG at the 8th pole and got beat 1 ¼ lengths. He would have to close much better and longer in the BCC.
And, another comment that I would put to wayside, was that you said, that was "losing ground in the stretch", his time exceeded both winner in closing. He ran .36 faster than Tizway when closing in the Whitney, and he ran .18 faster than Havre De Grace in the Woodward. He wasn't backing up, budding. He was rolling!!!!! If you think I'm wrong, look it up.
Lazmaninick, I understand your point. But, what I say, is that this horse(Flat Out) had come off a 1 1/2 layoff. He ran 3 races in 33 days after this long layoff. He went from Texas, to Kenticuky, to New York. Once he got to New York, he romped like an incredible machine. Taking into account the fact that he was laid off a year and a half, this trainer has some magnificent designs for this horse. He has performed admirably, and, if you are one that think that this trainer is blowing in the wind, may he, or you, prove him wrong, when he rolls into the BC. I think he had an idea, and it far exceeds anything you ever thought of. I believe in Dickey, and, after it's said and done, maybe you will become a believer.
CauseForConcern. I think that Flat Out ran a tremendous race in the Suburban getting the 9F in a one-turn race in 1.46.64 and for that effort was given a 113 Beyer. He didn’t beat a deep field by any stretch, but he ran very well. The problem for me is that he really didn’t do anything of consequence before (an unlisted stake in 2009 and an optional claiming allowance in 2010). He has also been in position to win his past two races, both run since the Suburban, losing ground in the stretch when finishing 2nd in the dead track Whitney, and having HDG pull away from him in the Woodward. Beating his like shouldn’t be considered a major accomplishment, but an accomplishment of beating a horse that is an average G2 winner. Maybe I might be thought of as sour grapes, but the truth is, based on his efforts and his career, I don’t think he is a BCC threat, but then, maybe I set the standard of what a true BCC worthy horse is too high.
I totally agree, Brian. It will be only a matter of time before the naysayers will take the back seat.
Sounds like I rate Flat Out more highly than you do, Lazmannick. Thank you for the respectful debate.
Brian. And I respectfully agree with your opinion. Not to take anything away from HDG, I think she ran a nice race in the Woodward, but I was not impressed with the quality of that field and like most, expected her to win. Regarding males, all males are not equal just because they are males. We constantly hear about Goldi’s achievements against males and yet in her last, she finished second in a race with males, but the first three finishers were all female. There must come a time when the quality of a field is judged, not the quality or historical significance of the race. Horses have been beating the 2011 Woodward field all year long and their credentials as G1 type horses leave much to be desired. I would think it would be a major upset if this field won any Woodward in the past. With regards to Uncle Mo, the key thing to me was his coming back from a terrible gut wrenching illness and being thrown right into the fire. He gutted it out right to the end against a nice field and far outdid what I thought he would do.
Both Uncle Mo and Sassy Image were considered, but in the end Sassy's race was too slow, and I could not say that Uncle Mo's race was better than the winner of the race. I respectfully disagree with the merits of Havre de Grace's performance in the Woodward.

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Meet Brian Zipse 

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing since birth. 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 Managing Editor of Horse Racing Nation, Brian authors a daily column as Zipse at the Track, or ZATT for short, and adds his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Brian also consults for Derby Wars, is on the the Board of Directors of ReRun Thoroughbred Adoption and is a Vox Populi committee member. 
  
A graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.  

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