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Zipse At The Track

A Rebel Hoppertunity

Oaklawn Park 615 X 400
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire - Justin Manning


In a race that already includes Strong Mandate, my current top pick for the 2014 Kentucky Derby, not to mention last-out rompers, Tapiture and Kobe’s Back, you would think I might shy away from looking for a longer shot in Saturday’s Grade 2 Rebel Stakes. Not so. I actually see an opportunity to make some moolah in the Oaklawn Park feature. Did I say opportunity? I should say, a Hoppertunity.

48 hours from now, I could easily see the Bob Baffert trained son of Any Given Saturday being hailed as the “now horse” after surprising a strong field in Hot Springs. 


Hoppertunity looks, and is bred, to be a good one. Out of the Unaccounted For mare, Refugee, he is a half-brother to the high class Executiveprivilege. Snatched out of September’s Keeneland Sale of 2-year-olds in training for $300,000, Hoppertunity only has three lifetime starts to his credit. Unraced as a juvenile, he bounced quickly back from a slow break debut, in which he finished 5th in a race won by the highly regarded Bayern, to trounce a field of maidens going one mile at Santa Anita at the end of January. Next came a jump right into grade 2 stakes company.


Bet down to 4-1 in the Risen Star Stakes three weeks ago at Fair Grounds, Hoppertunity fell victim to the large 14 horse field in his stakes debut. Shuffled and forced farther back than his connections wanted, I thought the lightly raced colt did awfully well to rally for fourth that day.


Those betting on the Rebel might not agree with me considering the final margin of seven lengths. The assumption may be that Hoppertunity is not good enough to handle the class of the Rebel, and let him go near his juicy morning line odds of 10-1. I believe there is plenty of reason to look at the result of the Risen Star as a positive, rather than a negative, though. 


Hopefully, the young horse learned a lot from his ordeal in New Orleans. The fact that he passed most of the ten horses he beat in the Risen Star after having a tough start to the race, tells me a great deal. Plenty of horses with such little experience would have called it a day after encountering trouble in such a big field. His effort to get in the picture for the show, makes me feel good about both his talent and his determination. Sure, he wasn’t close to the winner, but with the experience he earned from that one, a little improvement in his fourth career race, and the probability of a better trip, you can see why I consider him a very live longshot.


One more thing I like about Hoppertunity, and this is not meant to be a slight to Martin Garcia, but picking up the talents of the Hall of Famer Mike Smith, could be huge. Fresh off dominating the Big Cap with another Baffert charge, Game on Dude last weekend, Smitty should come to Arkansas with all the confidence in the world. He also should help the young colt continue his rapid learning cycle that could ultimately see him in the Kentucky Derby starting gate in seven weeks.


Strong Mandate remains my top pick on Saturday, but you better believe I will be boxing him with Hoppertunity, in hopes of having a reason to let out a rebel yell after cashing in big in the Rebel. 


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Older Comments about A Rebel Hoppertunity ...

i used your advice but over and boxed with Tapiture, $54.40 on a $2 exacta!
Kobe's Baaaaccccckkkkkkkk! ;)
Ride on curlin gets a beautiful trip under Desormeaux and romps!!!
Hoppertunity is definitely viable underneath. Also, Brian, nice appearance on Derek Simon's racing podcast this week. Hope to hear you on there more often... or maybe start a HRN show?
I hope everyone else jumps off the Tapiture band waggon, maybe I can get him at a price;-) I think its a race for 2nd place betwwen SM, RoC, KB and then Hopportunity
for what seems to be the millionenth time POSITION is not energy distribution War Emblem won the Illinois Derby on the lead LATE and the Derby Presser...THe pace of the race is the yardstick NOT position.
lets see YOUR data to believe or MINE gleaned over the entire season???Hmmm what a toug choice to consider!!!
Fair Grounds is playing differently now, speed killed lately. Hoppertunity was compromised from the start last time, nice call, Brian.
Fair Grounds winners are at a big DISADVANTAGE coming into Oaklawn as the earlier energy requirement there are not too favorable of those capable of winning in New Orleans. Don't know how many making that same shift never get to the line with the field.
Hey Brian stick with the Hometown grade 2 winner(Tapiture-Kentucky Jockey Club)
I don't know, Brian...I'm still not sold on Risen Star winner Intense Holiday. I didn't think the Risen Star field was particularly deep, and after facing the ones he'd previously faced, Intense Holiday was more than prepared to face lesser rivals. But hey, if Hoppertunity goes off at good odds, why not take a shot?!?
My favorite Rebel Yell --->
ZATT the Rebel Rouser.
I'm completely with you, Zipse. There's actually 2 colts in this race getting major jock changes that should go off at nice odds that everyone should be watching out for. Hoppertunity is the first. Garcia simply had him too far off the pace (not where I believe he wants to be) in the Risen Star. He was the only horse running nearly the same rate as the winner at the end, and had he been closer to the pace, I believe that would've resulted in him at least being a part of that photo for the win. Then there's Ride On Curlin (I admit, I've liked this colt for a while now). Borel rushed to the lead down the backstretch after going nearly 7 wide around the first turn. Also love the 7F work going into this affair. GL everyone!
I tried to watch the Risen Star replay and it's hard to tell what's happening to Hopportunity during the race. Baffert-Smith combo at Oaklawn sure to be bet down. Not to the favorite maybe, but close. Interesting Zipse! Thanks man.

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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, 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. 

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, or ZATT for short, 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 co-hosting the popular racing show, 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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