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HRN Original Blog:
Zipse At The Track

McGaughey from the clouds at Belmont

Pace makes the race. Anybody who plays the races worth his weight in salt knows this adage for one simple reason … It’s the most important single handicapping angle known to man. Lone speed kills, as proven recently by such wire jobs as Fort Larned in the Cornhusker and Blueskiesnrainbows in yesterday’s Swaps. If there is an abundance of early speed in the race however, the opposite will be true, and the frontrunners usually will melt faster than Frosty the Snowman taking a steam. In handicapping the pair of graded stakes at Belmont Park on Saturday, I believe there may be enough horses pushing the contested pace envelope in both races to expect horses coming from well back to enjoy some sweet set-ups in the Victory Ride and Suburban respectively. If they do indeed come from the clouds, the big beneficiary of this should be the Hall of Fame conditioner they call Shug.

McGaughey’s big stakes day could get started with the little known sophomore filly Sea Island, who will make her stakes introduction in the Grade 3 Victory Ride Stakes. At first glance, it appears Shug’s filly may be overmatched by the likes of Agave Kiss, but then again, pace could make this race. With a record of 6 for 6 lifetime, including four straight impressive stakes scores, there is plenty of reason to see why the fleet New York-bred will be an overwhelming favorite, but keep in mind, she has never faced early speed before like she will in the Victory Ride. Chief among her fast fractions friends is the multiple stakes winner from the Wesley Ward barn, Gypsy Robin. Like Agave Kiss, she has plenty of class and even more early speed. If the two favorites ding-dong early and maybe get some company from Jamaican Smoke, things could get a little tough down the lane. Enter Sea Island who has won two straight at longer distances and has been working strongly for Saturday’s affair. It doesn’t hurt either that Shug showed confidence in his filly by supplementing her to the race for the Phipps Stable. Look for the 10-1 shot to lag back early and make one big run. It could be that Agave Kiss is simply too good, but at 2-5 or so, isn’t it worth a shot to make her prove it?

As I wrote earlier this week, the Grade 2, $350,000 Suburban has come up loaded. Names like To Honor and Serve, Mucho Macho Man, Stay Thirsty, Buffum, and Trickmeister have fans giddy with anticipation. Meanwhile, poor old Hymn Book seems to be the forgotten hoss. Despite sporting a grade 1 win already this year in the Gulfstream’s Donn, two consecutive starts finishing out of the money have left the McGaughey trained six-year-old gelding off most A-lists. No need for Shug to worry though, for in both of those races, the Oaklawn Handicap and the Pimlico Special, Hymn Book received neither the pace set-up, nor the trip, that I expect him to enjoy in the historic feature. With Trickmeister laying down fast fractions, look for Endorsement, Caixa Eletronica, To Honor and Serve, Buffum, and Mucho Mucho Macho Man all to follow in close contact, with Stay Thirsty not too much farther back. This will allow Shug’s horse to relax back in last early, waiting to uncoil a fierce rally, and do one better than his second place finish in last year’s edition of the Suburban. Sound familiar? Saturday could be a really big day for Shug McGaughey and his pair of stakes closers.


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Older Comments about McGaughey from the clouds at Belmont...

Hymn Book and Sea Island today in the stakes at Belmont ... Come on Shug!
Palace Malice ran superb today and scored a nice second by 3/4 of a length. You will hear alot about this horse in the Triple Crown races next year.
"*not with your heart"
This is one of those "bet with your head and now with you heart" situations. I really want to see Agave Kiss and MMM win, but the pace could leave me 0-2 on Saturday.
Can't argue with you. You just need one of them to win to make it a good day of betting!


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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 and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta. 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 serves on the the Board of Directors of ReRun Thoroughbred Adoption and is a Vox Populi committee member. 
A graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives in Suburban Chicago with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra, where he is a professional golf instructor when he is not following the horses.