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Breeders' Cup 2017

HRN Original Blog:
Zipse At The Track

From the Eighth Pole to the Wire - 2/17/14

Tamarando El Camino Real 615 X 400
Photo: Don August


Kobe is seriously Back 

I see this scenario play out a lot … A juvenile makes a splash immediately to begin his career, but then follows it up with performances less than what may have been anticipated after his early success. More times than not, they never come back to fulfill that initial promise. Kobe’s Back looks like an exception to the rule. His electrifying last-to-first explosion in Sunday’s San Vicente was an eye-opener. I was admittedly skeptical going in, but the way he inhaled the early leaders in the grade 2 race at Santa Anita was too good to ignore. It looks like Candy Boy is not the only high quality sophomore for C R K Stable and John Sadler. Having said all that, I still suspect Kobe Back will be better suited as a one-turn rallier, rather than a true classic horse, but only time will tell.

Tapiture was on ready 

After showing a good deal of promise, but still a maiden after three starts, Tapiture broke out with a big score late last fall in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club. Picking up right where he left, and in very similar fashion, the son of Tapit looked great yesterday in rolling to an easy 4 ¼ length score in Oaklawn Park’s Southwest Stakes. He was working well in the mornings and this victory verifies the belief that my choice for ZATT's Star of the Week is a classy individual. Interestingly, I was a fan of his dam, Free Spin, a few years back, but unfortunately for those jumping on the good looking Winchell runner’s Derby bandwagon, she was best at one-turn. Also, not to be lost in the big win, was another solid performance by the favored runner-up, Strong Mandate. Shuffled and pushed wide in the early going, the son of Tiznow had a whole lot more to do than the winner in the first part, and it should be no surprise that he got a little leg weary late in his initial three-year-old go.

Tamarando is one honest hombre

Sullivan, one of the regulars here on HRN, was on me more than once for not including Tamarando as one of my Sweet 16 2014 Kentucky Derby contenders. Close before, Sullivan should be pleased to know that Tamarando is now on my list. Always a likeable sort who never seems to fail to kick it in late, I thought his irresistible late charge from last to win Saturday’s El Camino Real Derby was his best race yet, and that is saying something considering he was a grade 1 winner at two. Furthermore, a lot has been made of all of his wins coming on synthetic surfaces, but I see three good performances, albeit losing ones, in his three dirt tries. Keep in mind that all of those took place on the speed favoring surface of Santa Anita’s main track.

Twilight Eclipse earns his ticket to Dubai

Once sold for a measly one thousand dollars, the sage of Twilight Eclipse continues to get better. A strong win in Saturday’s Mac Diarmida at Gulfstream Park was his fourth graded stakes win in the last 15 months, and I think the best may yet still be to come for the five-year-old gelded son of Purim. Although, it looks like things will get considerably tougher soon, as we can expect to see the familiar gold and black silks of West Point Thoroughbreds overseas in the $5 Million Dubai Sheema Classic. Please check out more on the happy returns from this win over on my friend, Matt Shifman’s blog.

Ron of Arabia 

Speaking of big races in Dubai looming, it was a pleasure to see Ron the Greek storm the desert in excellent fashion while making his first start for his new connections. The $10 million Dubai World Cup is obviously no easy nut to crack, but I believe Ron the Greek has everything it takes to make it two straight victories for horses formerly trained in the U.S. in the world’s richest race, and wouldn’t that be nice?

Iotapa ready to take next step

Looking for a new female star to root for? Iotapa could turn out to be a fruitful choice. The four-year-old daughter of Afleet Alex was up against it last spring. Trying to handle the likes of Beholder while making only her third lifetime start is a lot to ask. Not embarrassed when second in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks, she showed herself to be a horse to watch for the future. Now four, the good looking John Sadler miss still only has eight starts in total, but I believe her dominating win in the Santa Maria, her fourth victory, points her out as a legitimate threat to the supremacy of Beholder’s spot as the Queen of California.

Don’t Tell Sophia is the Queen of Oaklawn Park

Another older mare probably deserving of more attention on a national scale is Don’t Tell Sophia. In raising her record to 9-of-19 in Sunday’s Bayakoa Stakes, she won about as easily as a horse could win. She came from way back to circle the field and open up by five lengths at the eighth pole, before cruising to Oaklawn Park’s finish line. Take note that her final time for the 8 ½ furlongs was slightly faster than both male winners of the other features at Oaklawn Park this weekend, Tapiture and Right to Vote. Don’t Tell Sophia was able to win the Grade 2 Chilluki at Churchill Downs last fall, but I still think she has more than that in her. Perhaps the Apple Blossom, at her favorite track, will become the initial Grade 1 victory for the daughter of Congaree.

Zeewat demonstrates his class

Meanwhile in a race that may have been a little lost in the fog of the holiday weekend, I was very impressed with the victory by Zeewat in Golden Gate Fields’ Lost in the Fog Stakes. While it was clear that the Jerry Hollendorfer charge had the class edge going in over a field of good local sprinters, this was no easy spot. Coming out of the 8 ½ furlong Strub Stakes last month, I didn’t know if the late-running son Harlan’s Holiday would have the sharpness to get up yesterday, and with five of the six furlongs gone, I still had every reason to be skeptical. It wasn’t that he hadn’t gotten himself within striking distance at the eighth pole, but he was jammed up behind a wall of horses. Worming his way through almost non-existent holes, the cream rose to the top on the very final jump. It was the 7th victory in 14 lifetime starts for Zeewat, a horse that obviously just likes to win. 


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Older Comments about From the Eighth Pole to the Wire - 2/17/14...

why do you say that as the HORSE just did not fire. That is THE HORSE'S problem
Ride on Curlin ..... worst ride ever by Borel.
Age i know what you meant,i was just being playful. I agree with your comments regarding the competition he will be facing in the Remsen.I doubt he will be able to beat Tapiture in the Rebel. 2nd is a very Strong possibility,unless Senor Baffert decides to ship in one of his Aces. If he does,then i think Shug is looking at 3rd as a best case scenerio. But i think rather than how strong he runs , Shug will be more interested in the 4 days after the race. That will be his cooling off period. That is where Shug does not want any surprises. I think he will accept a 3rd place finish in the Rebel.
Tmallios, I think we're both right. If you're saying what I believe you to be, then yes: Shug didn't come out of the Remsen 3 months ago and say "Let's point for the Rebel". Maybe I should have used another phrase besides "point for". I think you get the gist of my comment, though. Yep, Shug was backed in a corner and it was (is) Rebel or bust basically. That being said, even if you want to look at how he's getting there as just coincidence and good/bad look and "the way things shake out", I like Honor Code's chances in the Rebel.
Age i love Shug as a trainer,but lets hold back on the Kudos.Shug did not point to the Rebel It fell in his lap,it was his last resort. Do not expect this horse to be running on all cylinders.Shug has him fit enough to where he is sure running in this race will not hurt the horse.
McGaughey's decision to point Honor Code for the Rebel is lookin' better all the time. The way that trio of highly-regarded stakes horses (Tapiture, Strong Mandate, Ride on Curlin) looked like a gang of drunks in the final furlong, wandering all over the track trying to find the finish line, surely one can't help but think that the local contenders at Oaklawn would be very vulnerable to a strong stretch finisher in the next Derby prep. The Rebel is also the weekend of my birthday, so that doesn't dim my excitement any. =)
That was refreshing, tony.
Why are all of the Columnists sticking up for Lukass? Does he pay you guys? Does he have photos of you doing something you shouldn't?Weak Mandate was not fit and was wobbling in the stretch going every which way but straight. The horse is NOT Derby material and all of you writers need to get off this Lukass/Derby kick you all seem to have. Call a spade a spade and face the music Lukass is done. Now move on to a trainer with potential. Do some homework, research, get out of bed in the morning, go into the barn area, and write what you see, hear, and smell. The job requires that much conscientiousness. If you can't or don't want to do it then sell tickets at a tellers window. We all read whats in the news, so repeating what somebody else said is very obvious.
Wattani, the racehorse formerly known as The Ron Greek, still has some miles in those legs. Too bad they will never touch North American soil again.
Twilight Eclipse will from now on have a spot in my heart after his Pick 5 win in the Mac Diarmida.

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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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