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Breeders' Cup 2017

HRN Original Blog:
Zipse At The Track

Hoppertunity knocks in a roughly run Rebel

Hoppertunity Rebel 615 X 400
Photo: Terri Cage


With four horses coming together at the eighth pole, it promised to be an exciting finish to this afternoon’s $600,000 Rebel Stakes. Race fans got that exciting finish, as the lightly raced Hoppertunity edged race favorite Tapiture by a half-length, but what they didn’t see, was a cleanly run race.

First, Ride On Curlin on the inside, came out into Strong Mandate, pushing that one out into Tapiture and Hoppertunity. The latter responded by leaning back into Tapiture, meaning that the four horses were all squeezed into a space barely large enough for three. Despite the bumping, the two with the most momentum were able to go on with it, and Hoppertunity held the unlucky Tapiture at bay to earn a tough victory in the 2014 Kentucky Derby prep.

Up until the late stages, Hoppertunity got a great trip under his Hall of Fame partner, Mike Smith. Donning the familiar red and yellow silks of Mike Pegram, he stalked the pacesetting pair of Strong Mandate and Ride On Curlin through fractions of :24.06 and :47.97, and pounced on the two on the far turn. Meanwhile, Tapiture was on the inside, full of horse, but needing room to run.  

Tapiture kept coming and forced his way through a small opening between Strong Mandate to his inside, and Hoppertunity on the outside. Eventually he found room for himself, but not before taking the worst of the four-way battle royale. Once clear, he did have the opportunity to overtake Hoppertunity, but the winner proved resolute in the Grade 2 affair.


A post-race inquiry, and jockey objection, would not change the finish order. Ride On Curlin stayed on gamely for third, beaten only one-length, while the second choice, Strong Mandate was another length-and-a-half farther back in fourth. 

Not surprisingly, the winning connections were pleased with the performance.

"That was exciting. Wow. I saw what happened in the race live and I was saying to myself, that kid (Santana, Jr. on Tapiture) is trying to push us out of the way to get by, said Bob Baffert’s assistant trainer, Jimmy Barnes. “We had enough horse that he wasn't getting by. Mike (Smith) said he just started running when he got bumped. That just made him run faster. He's tough. He's lightly raced. That was only his fourth race so that was exciting and I'm glad we came. Whether we come back for the Arkansas Derby is up to Bob."

Overlooked at 6-1 after a troubled 4th place finish in the Risen Star Stakes last time, Hoppertunity returned $14.20 to his happy backers. The final time for the 1 1/16 mile Rebel was 1:43.90, over a track labeled wet-fast after race day rains.

The winner is a bay son of Any Given Saturday. Out of the Unaccounted For mare, Refugee, Hoppertunity is a half-brother to the recently retired, multiple grade 1 winner, Executiveprivilege. With the win, he raised his record to two wins in four starts for owners, Mike Pegram, Karl Watson, and Paul Weitman. This victory also earned his trainer Bob Baffert, his fourth victory in the Rebel in the last five runnings.

Today, Hoppertunity took a big step forward towards the first Saturday in May, in his quest of breaking the 132-year-old streak of no horse winning the Kentucky Derby, without racing as a juvenile, since Apollo in 1882. 



Rebel Stakes Objection 2014 


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Older Comments about Hoppertunity knocks in a roughly run Rebel...

IMO, Ride On Curlin should've been DQ
  • Show All 6 Comments
  • Mary Z. · You are not ready for yeti attention, amino Take my word. · 1306 days ago
  • Mary Z. · Your new ladies don't know this side, sully. · 1306 days ago
Regardless what RoC did with the bumping, why would they take him down when they didn't take Tapiture down for bumping at the top of the stretch? They aren't going to DQ a horse for bumping in close quarters. Clearly cutting off a horse, yes. Bumping, no
  • rwelch32 · Hmmm... ask the owner of She's a Tiger about the Juveniles Fillies race at last years Breeders Cup. Minor bump and taken down to second place. Cost me a pick three win. · 1308 days ago
Looks like they were playing bumper cars. The replay doesn't go back far enough. When Tapiture pushed through there was a few yard where Hoppertunity moved out and everybody had enough room. Then came the squeeze play where both ends come in - Strong Mandate ended getting squeezed back. I think the stewards made the only call they could unless they wanted to DC all 4 of them. I don't think it was 'great' riding by any of them.
After watching the replay a couple of times, I don't understand why Tapiture was pulled back and put on the rail behind two horses. This horse might have been better off to be taken three wide throughout and avoided being boxed in.
100 BSF for the Hopper.
They are under pressures from the racing community in different doses in different jurisdictions. If Joe Schmo was involved, do you think that number would have stayed UP??
With that thought: http://euthanasia.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000132
Is TV contradicting himself again? I thought stewards had vast training, etc. This guy kills me sometimes.
I agree, Vic. No way no how was Hoppertunity going to be DQ'd.
Damn well bet that if the colt involved did not bring big time horses to Oaklawn each season, and was just a old schmo. that number would hve come down pronto
I think they made the right call. It seemed to me Tapiture got the worst of the bumping, but he was by no means a victim, I think he started the pinballing. Im taking a few things from this race. 1) Tapiture can run well with mud being thrown in his face, 2) Tapiture can run in traffic. 3)Both Tapiture and Hoppertunity have the "IT" factor, thye dont like to lose. It also looks like RIde on Curlin might be similar to his half brother Palace Malice. He is in every race, and as the distance gets longer fewer and fewer be able to run with him.
...and he did not race as a 2 year-old. Can he break the jinx of the derby??
... and just in case you forgot, Hoppertunity was picked by Brian in his blog titled "A Rebel Hoppertunity"
Hoppertunity will not turn three until May 7!

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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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