2015 Kentucky Derby: War Story flying under the radar

February 10, 2015 10:39am


When the list of horses included for the 2015 Kentucky Derby Future Pool 2 came out last week, I was a little surprised and disappointed not to see one of my current favorites make the cut. I figured I would get some nice odds on War Story, but as part of the mutuel field, no such luck. I guess he needs to do more still to come out of the shadows, and make it on to the radar of most experts. Fair enough, but I don’t expect his relative anonymity to last much longer.

War Story has yet to win a stakes race for trainer Tom Amoss, and Loooch Racing, but I love the progression he has made in his three career starts. His career began the right way last fall, when he came from well back to win a seven furlong maiden special weight at Churchill Downs going away. The chestnut headed south with his stable, and this time was much closer early in a one-mile allowance race in New Orleans late in 2014. The result was much the same, though, as he coasted home a facile 2 ¾-length winner.

In his most recent run, I thought War Story ran a deceptively good race to finish 2nd in the Lecomte at Fair Grounds on January 17. After breaking a step slow, he was squeezed down to the rail heading into the first turn. He avoided traffic in the 11-horse field from there, and moved off the rail on the backstretch to make a wide move into the stretch. From there, he struck the lead, before bearing in a bit, and succumbing to the late charge of International Star. All in all, I thought it was the performance of a talented horse, who should only get better.

Rather than staying in Louisiana to tangle with the likes of Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner, Texas Red in the Risen Star on January 21, War Story is reportedly heading out of town to race the week before in the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park on February 16, where he will pick up a new rider in Joe Talamo. The gelded son of Northern Afleet, and the Pulpit mare Belle Watling, demonstrated that his good form continues with a sharp four furlong workout on Monday, completing the half-mile at Fair Grounds in :48.40.

If War Story is indeed ready to take another step forward and become a stakes winner in next Monday’s $300,000 Southwest Stakes, it looks like it will come at the direct expense of the top four finishers from last month’s Smarty Jones Stakes, as Far Right, Bayerd, Mr. Z and Private Prospect are all expected back for the second race on Oaklawn’s trail to the Kentucky Derby. Bold Conquest is another highly regarded colt on the list of Southwest probables.

So, as it should be, an initial stakes victory for War Story will not come easy on his visit to Hot Springs, but it is a test I believe he will pass. This one should not be flying under the radar too much longer. 


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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, American Pharoah and Justify. 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. His new racing partnership venture, Derby Day Racing, invites more fans to experience the thrill of racehorse ownership.

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, created the popular racing show, HorseCenter and added his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Now a Senior Writer for HRN, Brian continues to contribute his thoughts on racing, as well as hosting 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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