Race of the Week 2017

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Zipse At The Track

Decision '12: Which Breeders' Cup Race for Dullahan?

In one of the best performances on American soil this year, Dullahan swept to victory in the $1 million TVG Pacific Classic over favored Game On Dude with a powerhouse rush to win in track record time. There is only one small problem with that statement … the race may have been run in the good old United States, but it was certainly not run on anything that could be confused with soil … it’s actually more of a polypropylene fiber, recycled rubber, silica sand, and wax blend. 
Now don’t get me wrong, I mean to take nothing away from Dullahan or his accomplishment of yesterday at Del Mar; it was topnotch all the way. The strapping son of Even the Score now has three Grade 1 wins in less than 12 months for trainer Dale Romans, which remarkably make up all of his career victories. He also became the first three-year-old in ten years to win the Pacific Classic, and only the fourth in the history of the race. With the win, Dullahan earned some awfully attractive perks from the Breeders’ Cup, as they will pay the $150,000 entry fee for Dullahan to start in the Classic and provide a $10K travel allowance to Santa Anita. Good news … or is it?
You see, the Breeders’ Cup Classic will be run on the dirt of Santa Anita Park this year, and Dullahan is not a dirt horse. He’s 0 for 6 on dirt, with his only strong performance (3rd in the Kentucky Derby) coming over a main track at Churchill Downs notorious for being friendly to horses that are best suited for turf or synthetic surfaces. 
Is he a synthetic horse? Absolutely, those three impressive grade 1 wins leave zero doubt. Unfortunately for Dullahan, there is no BC race scheduled to be run on a synthetic surface anytime soon. 
Is he a turf horse? I suppose it is yet to be determined, but I really think so. His races on turf, a surface of course which translates much more closely to synthetic ones, while yet to produce a big win, have been nothing but promising. His last race on turf was way back in March, and it was the first race where I really started believing that he was a very good horse. With one of the best sophomore turf horses alone and setting moderate early fractions, Dullahan needed to close ridiculously fast just to get within a length of Howe Great in the Grade 3 Palm Beach. 
You see where I’m going with this … Dullahan should be pointed to the Breeders’ Cup Turf, and not the Breeders’ Cup Classic. I feel strongly about this.
Perhaps I’m a little hypersensitive to this decision, because we are less than two years removed from my disappointment to find out that Paddy O’ Prado, the horse I thought that was one of the most talented American turf horses in many years, would be running in the Breeders’ Cup Classic rather than the Breeders’ Cup Turf. To this day, no one can convince me that Paddy O’ Prado would not have been anything but a strong winner in the BC Turf.
So if Dullahan was my horse, we know where he would be headed, but as part of the Team Donegal Racing, the decision of which Breeders’ Cup race to run in is very much up in the air. Not so coincidentally, Paddy O’ Prado was also a Donegal runner.
Ok, time for another disclaimer … I’m not sure there is a current owner in racing that I respect more than the man behind Donegal Racing, Jerry Crawford. This is a man who has dedicated himself to identifying and buying for his partnership horses that can run a classic distance, with winning the Kentucky Derby the ultimate goal. What could be more fun for a group of partners than winning the Derby? And fun is exactly what Crawford and his Iowa based partnership brings his partners. Yesterday, the Donegal group was a little over 60 in number at Del Mar, and if you’ve ever been around the group at the track, you’d know that they are most certainly enjoying themselves. Crawford is obviously talented at selecting good horses, and even better, they are horses that American racing so desperately needs. I simply love everything that he and Donegal represent on the racing landscape.
As much respect as I have for Mr. Crawford, I am willing to disagree with his decisions, such as the Paddy O’ Prado choice. As far as the impending Dullahan decision, I have little idea which way he is leaning. As the Vice Chairman of the Breeders' Cup Board of Directors, I could see why he might be even more inclined to accept the benefits of the “Win and You’re in” program and point for the Classic, although I saw it as a good sign that Crawford would not say the Classic was the goal during the afterglow of victory yesterday. On the other hand, his post-race statements have me worried that Dullahan might be headed down the same uncomfortable road as Paddy O’ Prado.
“I think every (racetrack) needs to have the surface they want. The great news from today is obvious.  People are going to insist that this is a synthetic horse because he has won three Grade Is on synthetic. But there’s no one else in the country that has won three Grade Is on any surface and placed in graded stakes on the turf and finished third in the Kentucky Derby,” said Crawford. 
He went on to say, “I would respectfully submit that the question with Dullahan is not what surface can he run on, but what surface can’t he run on?
He is 0 for 6 on dirt, sir. I would say the answer to your question is as simple as that. Bottom line, I simply hope that such a fine individual as Dullahan runs in a race that he can win on Breeders’ Cup Day.


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Older Comments about Decision '12: Which Breeders' Cup Race for Dullahan?...

Of course if Danedream or Snow Fairy did come and shold happen to lose there is always the book of "One Hundred Excuses" to fall back on.
have to agree with cugel the clever if either Danedream or Snow Fairy come. But I think it might be a slim chance that Danedream comes because the Arc takes alot out of a horse. But they said last year they were coming, but afer her Arc win they rerouted her to the Japan Cup. Snow Fairy would possibly go to the Far East again also.
Money is the decision maker her, sad to say. What is the best for this horse and his career?
@stevebiscuit: "second to Acclamation"???? You must be joking. There is no American horse who can beat Danedream at 1 1/2 miles on the turf. Acclamation will do well to finish 3rd behind Danedream and Snow Fairy. Dullahan on turf does not belong in this race. He stands a better chance in the Classic.
The Turf is $3 million. Dale Romans says the decision will be his, and a turf race (either the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic or the Jamaica) will be next in preparation for whichever BC race is chosen.
  • el kabong · Sounds like he will prep for the turf bc race. Jamaica=Turf mile, Hirsch=Turf Classic. But if he fails, I would not hesitate to race him on Dirt. That Derby finish was too good to say he does not run on dirt. If he couldn't handle dirt, he would not have come so close to the two horses who handled it best in his class. I would never attribute that effort to some contrived bias. · 1974 days ago
Not sure if he handle turf at this level, but I know he can't handle dirt, and especially the speedy SA strip. Turf, no brainer.
It does make it sound like the BC turf is next. Hopefully, he does well in one of those races to show Romans that he should be in the BC turf.
That sure makes it sound like he will be pointed toward one of the BC turf races rather than the Classic. Here's hoping!
That's a big purse in it's own right. Not classic purse, but a Kentucky Derby purse, and that's a huge purse. They should easily be able to take a shot at that purse of 2 or 3 mil. Would you rather have little chance at the 5 mil purse, or have a big chance at the 2 or 3 mil purse?
hsitorically 2 mill maybe 3 now ....
In all reality, its not really a decision.... with LITTLE MIKE pointing to the mile and one half, with SILVER MAX pointing to the mile, and even though they are all different owners DULLAHAN will probably run in the classic...
Hey, does anyone know what the BC Turf's purse is? It's not as good as the classic, but it has to be a big purse.
It seems as though we can all agree that turf/synthetics is the best option for Dullahan. Now the question is: Can Donegal resist the lure of potential BC Classic glory and that huge purse?
In the BC Turf: He can beat ANYONE on turf or artificial surfaces. On dirt however, he can't beat much, let alone the best dirt horses in the world. Because of that, the BC turf is by far the best option. I don't see how anyone would send him to the BC Classic to get beaten badly. If he goes to turf he can immense compitition, and on synthetics he can beat any horse, he just beat the Dude! If they say Classic, I'll never put money on Romans and Donegal ever again. And I would totally keep Rosario on this horse, he's a good fit.
I think Dale will be very careful in not making a decision too soon but at the end of the day Dullahan will be racing on the grass in the 2012 BC.
The Classic, why? he did great but I don't think the Classic is appropriate for this horse. Turf is where he needs to be...
Next race should be on the turf!
The BC Classic would totally be the wrong fit for Dull. He would fit in the BC Turf.
Good points Brian, but whether he runs in the Turf or the Classic, I would venture they would want one more prep race under his belt. I say get him a beach ball and keep him out West. That prep race should be the Awesome Again, 1 1/8 at Santa Anita on Sept 29th on the main track.Train him out west and If he runs well on the surface, you take a shot at the Classic. If not, the turf would be a fine option. Keeping Joel would be a good idea too. Dullahan needs to be closer to the pace at the top of the lane. He cannot be 8-10 off the pace when they turn for home. Either way, it's good to see Dullahan back in the Winner's circle where he belongs.

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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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