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Breeders' Cup 2017

HRN Original Blog:
Zipse At The Track

From the Eighth Pole to the Wire - 4/28/14

Bayern, Embellishing Bob, and Myositis Dan (2014 Derby Trial).
Photo: Reed Palmer


Fantastic Finish in France

In one of the best stretch runs we’ve seen in recent years, the fantastic filly, Treve, threw everything but the kitchen sink at the old warrior, Cirrus des Aigles, yesterday at historic Longchamp. Many expected the darling of the turf to whip up on the old man, but in a classic display of age before beauty, it was the 8-year-old gelding who would simply not let his younger rival by. The defeat of Treve should not be taken too hard by her legion of fans, though, as the 4-year-old filly was making her first race since winning the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in spectacular fashion more than six months ago, while Cirrus des Aigles had the benefit of an excellent race under his belt in Dubai. Not to flip the hyperbole switch on too fast, but yesterday’s meeting in the Prix Ganay was more than just a horse race, it was a sublime moment in time capturing the very best of Thoroughbred horse racing. It was also a race that Treve needed, so ZATT's Star of the Week better look out next time!

Bumping, Noses, and Videotape

For anyone who thought Saturday Night’s Derby Trial would be little more than a tiptoe through the tulips for the heavily hyped Bayern … boy did you turn out to be wrong. Bayern did end up running a courageous race, one that carried him to a whisker long victory over both Embellishing Bob and Myositis Dan, but the result simply would not stand with the Churchill Downs law. More than three-quarters of the way through a race-long nip and tuck battle, Bayern and his company up front, Embellishing Bob started getting a little down and derby trial, if you know what I mean. It looked like both colts were guilty of the bumping until nearing the wire, Rosie Napravnik switched to a left-hand whip causing Bayern to push Embellishing Bob a few lanes wider than his previous path. It was enough to change the top two, while Myositis Dan’s late charge literally came one jump short. No Derby horses here, but I would be surprised if we don’t see at least one of the trio head to Baltimore for the Middle Jewel.

Itsmyluckyday and Vyjack join the fray

For those of you who start dreaming about the next Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile moments after the most recent one is complete, (you know who you are), there was plenty of reason to smile up and down the Eastern Seaboard this weekend. First, in South Florida, Itsmyluckyday returned to his winning ways in smart style with a dominating victory in the Best of the Rest Stakes at Gulfstream Park. It was only the second start since suffering an injury in the Haskell, and it looked very much like the colt who racked up stakes wins over the same track last winter, before running an inspired runner-up to Oxbow in the Preakness. It should be bigger and better from here for the son of Lawyer Ron. 24 hours later, and up the coast in the Empire State, Vyjack made good on the massive respect showed to him by the bettors in a fast seven panel optional claimer at Aqueduct. Despite winning by less than a length in his return race, the gelding also looked like very much like he did in sweeping the Jerome and Gotham in 2013. It only gets tougher for Vyjack, as the $1.25 million Met Mile is on his immediate dance card, but I would think long and hard before discounting him against anyone at his favorite flat mile trip.

Inimitable is Indomitable

This time last year, the gray New York-bred mare, Inimitable Romanee was a useful sort, but you never would have mentioned her in the same sentence with the best female turfers in the land. Flash forward several months, and the now 6-year-old daughter of Maria’s Mon is one of the hottest things going. Four races back, and coming out of an eighth place finish against statebreds in the Ticonderoga, her trainer, Graham Motion removed her from a string of middle-distance races to enter her in the 12-furlong Long Island. That move up in distance has made all the difference. A 28-1 winner of that one, she followed it up with another grade 3 score in the 11-furlong The Very One at Gulfstream Park in February. A defeat in the Orchid was next, but Inimitable Romanee bounced back in fine fashion on the penultimate card of Keeneland’s Spring Meet. I wasn’t sure if she could do it coming from the 12-hole, but sure enough she was relentless down the stretch and just got up under Alan Garcia to win her the Bewitch, her third graded stakes victory in the last four starts.

Storm Fighter has a Future

Speaking of horses taking it to new and exciting places, watch out for a lightly raced Californian named Storm Fighter. The breakout star of the Golden State Series Saturday at Santa Anita, Storm Fighter took it to his competition early and often on the way to as easy as he pleased 3 ¼-length score over the good Rousing Sermon. The 4-year-old-son of Stormin Fever was making only his seventh career start in the Tiznow Stakes, but looked like an old pro in dominating his far more experienced foes. I do not yet know the story behind his lack of racing earlier in his career, but I suspect this is a colt really coming into his own as an older horse. Besides the sharp score, he was far and away the best looking one in the post-parade. Whatever path his connections choose to follow for the rest of the year, I believe the future is bright for this Golden Eagle homebred.


Machmer Hall is on a Roll

Hello, Machmer Hall! Not exactly one of the bigger names in the Kentucky Bluegrass, the Paris farm  of Craig and Carrie Brogden is on an amazing roll. Check out their last few months: February 1 - Vinceremos gamely fought off all comers to win the Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs. February 22 - Intense Holiday got his nose down on the wire to defeat a solid field in the Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds. April 1 - Kid Cruz rolled home in Pimlico’s Federico Tesio for his second straight easy stakes. April 26 - Vyjack looked good in winning his first race since the Haskell; all of them bred by Machmer Hall. You get the idea, the little breeding operation that could, can do little wrong right now. We already know they will be well represented in races like the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Met Mile, and with a little luck, one of those huge races will result in the the farm’s biggest win to date.

Derby Doings

Among the more impressive impressions made so far at Churchill Downs has been that of Starlight Racing’s Intense Holiday. A big portion of the positive adjectives use to described the son of Harlan’s Holiday stem from an in-company workout with fellow Todd Pletcher trainee, We Miss Artie. Intense Holiday fluffed and folded his workmate down the Churchill Downs stretch. By the time the pair had hit the wire, it no longer looked like they were meant to be working together. Seeing something like this can cause the jumping to conclusions that the faster worker did something fantastic. Well, maybe it looked better due to the struggles of the other horse, but Intense Holiday is coming to the race in the right way, has a favorable running style, will be ridden by one of the best (Johnny V), and we now know that he likes the track. Dismiss him at your own risk. As far as We Miss Artie, I’m sure if it was up to Pletcher, he would be pointed to a grass race somewhere, but he’s not. Ken Ramsey wants to run in the Derby, so the best advice of his trainer will fall on deaf ears on this one. 




Time to toss another pretender from the 2014 Kentucky Derby list until we are down to only the true contenders - #7 Chitu. 


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Older Comments about From the Eighth Pole to the Wire - 4/28/14...

UNLESS alone on the lead, expect the CONTENDERS (not the pace setters should go out in the 1:11 range to survive, but that can of course change with the weater and if their is a bias
Dance With Fate draws away from em all in the lane.
He will :)
he has to run down General A Rod first
California Chrome clear at the 1/8 pole can he hold off Hoppernunity late
Who's going to be on the lead by the 1/8th pole in the Derby?
I think we need to take both Treve and Lovely Syn off the undefeated watch.
That was a pretty good week of racing to get us ready for the Derby and the summer ahead. I liked seeing Vyjack and IMLD come back strong!
also...i'd love to see Embellishing Bob and/or Myositis Dan in the Preakness, but at this point neither of them are nominated to the Triple Crown. no idea if they're going to pay the no-doubt-ridiculous fee it would cost at the moment to supplement them into the race. either way, i'm sure we'll be hearing big things from both of them in the future!
fabulous choice for Star of the Week. Cirrus des Aigles was fantastic. it's not as if Treve was any kind of schlub, either...but Cirrus des Aigles had just a little bit more, and just plain deserved it!

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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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