Race of the Week 2017

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Zipse At The Track

Long time between drinks for Stay Thirsty

With a powerful thrust and parry early in the Saratoga stretch, Stay Thirsty became the temporary toast of the 2011 three-year-olds with a convincing score in the Mid-Summer Derby. Including the Travers, Stay Thirsty had already won three graded stakes in New York, along with the Gotham and Jim Dandy, and looked like the horse ready to snatch the Eclipse Award away from the injured Animal Kingdom. That was then, this is now. Stay Thirsty has not won a race since and enters Saturday’s prestigious Woodward Stakes just over twelve months later as the somewhat forgotten horse.
In fairness, the four-year-old son of Bernardini has only raced four times in the past year for trainer, Todd Pletcher. Two were good performances, a 3rd place finish in his first try against older in last fall’s Jockey Club Gold Cup, and a 2nd place finish in this year’s seasonal debut against Trickmeister. The other two races, however; have left even devoted fans of the Mike Repole runner wondering if he is really the horse they believed he was last summer at the Spa. A fade job in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Classic left him with no hope for an Eclipse Award, and a disappointing 5th place finish in July’s Suburban now has him off the current radar of America’s top older horses. With that last race on his past performances it may be hard to like the way Stay Thirsty is coming up to Saturday’s big race … or is it?
In his most recent tightener at Saratoga, Stay Thirsty worked “as well as he’s ever worked,” according to Pletcher. 
This report of being in fine fettle, coupled with the fact that the multiple graded stakes winner loves Saratoga, gives many, including this writer, the belief that Stay Thirsty is on the verge of running a big rebound race in the Woodward. Not only did he sweep the Jim Dandy-Travers last summer, but he also ran two very good races there as a Juvenile, with an easy maiden win, and a solid 2nd in the Grade 1 Hopeful.
Pletcher went on to comment,  “Since then [the Breeders’ Cup Classic], by design, he’s had a freshening pointing him toward a late-summer and fall campaign. He ran very well first time back and got out-footed by a quicker horse and then, unfortunately, the Suburban fell on a very hot day he and a number of horses didn’t really respond very favorably to. So, we’ve regrouped and freshened for this, and I like the way everything’s coming together.”
So whether you take the word of one of the top conditioners in the business, subscribe to the ‘ready to roll third race off the layoff’ theory, like the way he has been training for his next race, or just believe that Stay Thirsty is a big ‘horse for course’ at Saratoga, it would appear that there is every reason to believe that he will run a much better race than his last, come Saturday. 
The question remains whether all that will be good enough to win the Woodward over the likes of Mucho Macho Man and To Honor and Serve. Personally, I like his chances.


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Older Comments about Long time between drinks for Stay Thirsty...

Trickmeister is the horse to includein your exotics. In the Whitney, Trickmeister gave way after 8 furlongs in which he looked the leader in the eye. The Whitney was a race Trickmeister needed.
I am loving Stay Thirsty....so dream of going to Saratoga one day! Blessings to all!
I have been feeling that the best Stay Thirsty will show up in the Woodward. Same thoughts about THAS, is he ready to run a big race?
I've always been confused to some extent by the "horse for the course" but the evidence seems to be there to support it.
I tend to think it has more to do with form than the course except for CD of course. JMO
That is an interesting point, icy. However, it's not just the NY tracks that create monsters, per se. Fort Loudon is a Calder monster, and I've heard people refer to Acclamation and Zenyatta as California monsters.
Floridaf, If the tracks are that good in New York as to bring mediocrity to the top you would think everyone would bring their horses here permanently, but they don't. I wonder why? Then again we did get Ruffian. Wonder if she was just a New York wonder or actually good, food for thought now that it has so clearly been shown she was what you would call "a New York monster."
Stay Thirsty is usually good for one big performance per year in a graded stakes. He will have to hold off the Ritvo and Mott runners. This race should come all the way down to the homestretch, but Stay Thirsty will find the speed to squeeze out a win.
I can't even tell you how many times I have stated that Alpha is this year's Stay Thirsty, and I still managed to forget that ST is another NY monster. I think you're right; the Woodward very well could be his big rebound race.

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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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