Zipse: Amoss opens door to a Philly in the Kentucky Derby

Zipse: Amoss opens door to a Philly in the Kentucky Derby
Photo: Candice Chavez. /Eclipse Sportswire

“She’s a filly, but I have entertained the thought of putting her on the road to the Kentucky Derby.” And with that, trainer Tom Amoss has opened the door to running Hoosier Philly in the 2023 Kentucky Derby.

With three Grade 1 wins, including the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, there can be little doubt that Wonder Wheel will take home the Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old filly of 2022. Anyone who saw Saturday’s Golden Rod (G2) from Churchill Downs, however, will at the very least hold reasonable suspicion that Hoosier Philly might be the best juvenile filly in the nation.

The final victory margin of Saturday’s $400,000 co-feature was five lengths and the winning time was 1:43.94, but that does little to tell the real story.

Treating the other well-intentioned fillies like her own personal playthings, Hoosier Philly won this race under rider Edgar Morales with ridiculous ease.

Now undefeated in three career starts, with each performance more impressive than the previous, the $510,000 yearling purchase will get a break before resuming training for a 3-year-old campaign.

Of course, if a filly wants to run in the Kentucky Derby these days, she will need to earn enough qualifying points to make the 20-horse field on the first Saturday in May. This means that if all goes well in the next few months, we can expect to see Hoosier Philly take on the boys on the Kentucky Derby trail.

Thinking big with the Gold Standard Stable-owned filly is nothing new. You might remember that off only a maiden special weight win going 5 1/2 furlongs at Churchill Downs on Sept. 25, Amoss wanted to run Hoosier Philly in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.

The daughter of Into Mischief, out of a Tapit mare, was pre-entered but was left off the main draw as an alternate.

After waiting for as long as they felt comfortable to see whether they would move up the list, her connections decided to give up on that dream and instead run their debut winner in the $200,000 Rags to Riches five days before the Breeders’ Cup. The result was a 7 1/2-length romp in the Churchill Downs slop. 

Working great since her first stakes win, handicappers bet Hoosier Philly like she was something special Saturday, and she responded like a 2-5 shot should. Her first graded-stakes victory also was her third win at the site of the Kentucky Derby and the Kentucky Oaks.

Amoss won the prestigious Kentucky Oaks, the female counterpart of the Kentucky Derby, three seasons ago with Serengeti Empress. He has been effusive when describing his new star, and we are starting to see why.

“I’ve said multiple times, and I hope it doesn’t come across as arrogant, I’ve never seen any horse like her,” said Amoss. “I’ve been training since 1987, and she’s different than anything I’ve ever had come in my barn.”

Impressive words from the veteran horseman. Amoss knows a good horse when he sees one, and clearly this is a very good horse. But can a filly really win the Kentucky Derby?

It’s been a while, but the answer is yes. Genuine Risk in 1980 and then Winning Colors in 1988 proved it, but it’s been 12 years since a filly even attempted the feat. Devil May Care came home 10th for trainer Todd Pletcher in the 2010 edition.

Perhaps the thought of running a filly against the boys is less outlandish after what happened in the Triple Crown series this year, with Secret Oath running fourth in the Preakness (G1), three weeks before Nest finished second in the Belmont Stakes (G1). 

Adding to the thought that perhaps Hoosier Philly can compete successfully against the boys was the time of Saturday’s Golden Rod win.

The final time was 1.31 seconds faster than Instant Coffee ran in winning the $400,000 Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) over a field of young males one race later. All this while in hand for most of the stretch.

There’s a long way to go before the first Saturday in May. Just over five months, in fact. Anything can happen in the meantime, but as of now Hoosier Philly looks like the kind of filly of which big Kentucky Derby dreams are made.

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 HRN, 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 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 webcast 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 on the Board 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 and is a Vox Populi committee member. He is a voter for racing's Hall of Fame, as well as a weekly NTRA poll voter. 

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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