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HRN Original Blog:
Zipse At The Track


It's a trait that fascinates race fans like no other. When a horse drops back to last, well behind even the second to last horse, before unleashing a firestorm rally that carries their number from last to first, it is always thrilling. When this last-to-first rush happens in only the time it takes the horses to travel the distance of the stretch, it creates an even bigger buzz in the grandstand. When all of this happens in a grade 1 stakes race, then we are talking about something noteworthy. Today, I am pleased to tell you about just such a performance turned in by the excellent filly, Sassy Image.

The $350,000 Princess Rooney, at six furlongs for older females, was the closing feature of Calder’s great day of sprinting yesterday called the Summit of Speed. In a day filled with sprinting excellence, it was this last race that produced the biggest excitement. Sassy Image looked like a filly who simply was not running her race for the first two-thirds of the contest. Normally a horse who likes to do her best running in the stretch, Sassy Image was way farhter out of it than usual, and much farther back than she had ever been before in her career.

Rider Mike Smith said of the 124 pound highweight, “she just wasn’t handling the racetrack at all in the early going.” For all intents and purposes it looked the race favorite was about to waste her trip to Miami. No doubt patrons in the crowd, who had backed the 8-5 favorite, saw little hope for cashing in anything on the Dale Romans trained miss. That is before something miraculous happened.

As if launched from a cannon, Sassy Image suddenly began to get hold of the Calder strip. The rest of the field, some of whom had been part of a blazing :21 and change opening quarter, began to bunch up at the top of the stretch. Save Sassy, it looked like anyone's race. Slingshotting off the turn, she came into the stretch about ten wide and still clearly in last. Even at the eighth pole, she still looked too far out of it to make a serious challenge … but she was coming. Way out in the middle of the track, she was now gobbling up ground as if she had channeled her inner Silky Sullivan. For Sassy Image, the race was on.

Much closer to the rail, Musical Romance had emerged from the pack, and was setting sail for her initial grade 1 win … but Sassy was coming. Oh boy, was she coming. Eight paths farther out than her rival, she was striding out to the wire. The only question was whether the wire would come too quickly. It did not.

In one of the most exciting races of the year, Sassy Image had come from tenth and last in the stretch to nail Musical Romance at the wire to win by a neck. Romans called it probably her most impressive race ever. I would have to agree, Dale.

The victory in which she looked more like a copper locomotive than flesh and blood, the four-year-old chestnut daughter of Broken Vow improved her lifetime record to 7 wins in 14 starts, and is now a perfect 3 for 3 sprinting this year. In the last two months Sassy Image has proven to be the filly to beat in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, to be run in less than four months, and contested at her favorite racetrack, Churchill Downs.

If you haven't yet seen the race, sit back, take a deep breath, and get ready to be amazed.



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Older Comments about Sassy!!!...

Easily one of the best races I have ever seen. Just stunning. I am a huge MIke Smith fan and was watching the race, and when she dropped back so far, I was like "Shit, he lost" so I went back tor eadnig and then I heard the call that she was gaining. I started screaming. It was just an amazing ride by Mr.Smith and a great run by Sassy's Image.
That was visually the best race of the year. I know they went fast early & crawled home late, but no one gains that much ground in the stretch at Calder, EVER!
I wonder if Musical Romance didn't have to wait for a seam at the top of the lane, if she would have got more of a jump on Sassy and hold on. I want Musical Romance out of this one
I wasnt that impressed..The rest of the filed walked home from the quarter pole.JMO
I would say it was the most thrilling finish of the year so far, and don't forget it was not a fast track, Mark. The final time was in line with the other stakes of the day.
18 lengths back and storms to victory anyway??? IMPRESSIVE!
I just watched it again with the sound off - she was dead last WELL PAST the Quarter! And it still gave me chills; I'll never get tired of watching this one! ;)
Visually awesome; most impressive was the racecaller spotting her while she was still in about 7th place; enthusiasm for her performance tempered a bit by the 26 4/5 last quarter. The field collapsed.
I saw it on TVG yesterday; she TOTALLY blew me away with that run! I was so impressed with it, I watched it again last nite - just to make sure I saw what i saw! LOL! As i posted on Smith's page last nite, she reminds me of another mare he used to ride with a closing kick like that! ;)


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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.