Zipse: Mr. Money gives Lost Code vibes in Pennsylvania Derby

September 16, 2019 09:40am
Zipse: Mr. Money gives Lost Code vibes in Pennsylvania Derby
Photo: Coady Photography

More than three decades ago, Lost Code roamed Mid-America knocking off stakes races at an alarming rate. After a slow start to his career, the son of Codex had become a budding star with a healthy amount of speed and class. But how much class? Back in 1987, while Alysheba and Bet Twice were waging war in the spring classics, Lost Code was putting together an enviable winning streak. Seven straight stakes victories is impressive by any measure, but the question remained … just who was the Bill Donovan-trained colt beating in winning races like the Alabama, Illinois, Ohio, and St. Paul derbies? Lost Code finally got his acid test one warm afternoon at Monmouth Park. Putting his early run to the test, he took on the two stars from the Triple Crown series, and a war at the shore was waged in the Haskell Invitational (G1). A fantastic stretch battle ultimately put an end to his long winning streak.

Despite the defeat, his valiant third to the top two 3-year-olds in training had proven that the unheralded horse, who had been winning all those minor league races, was the real deal. A year later, Lost Code's career was complete having won 15 of 27 career starts, including nine graded stakes victories. Of course, not all horses who get hot running against less than the best go on to become a Lost Code. Now 32 years later, we may have found a modern day version. Times have changed, as top horses no longer run nearly as often as they did decades ago. While Lost Code rattled off seven straight stakes victories from the Hoop Jr. in late March through the Arlington Classic in mid-July, Mr. Money's winning streak has only reached four races. But much like it did for Lost Code when the Haskell rolled around, the time to test the big boys has finally come. Mr. Money had always been well liked. A $130,000 yearling purchase by bloodstock agent Josh Stevens for Allied Racing Stable, he was talked about last summer on the backstretch of Churchill Downs in glowing terms before he ever made his first start. A promising 2-year-old season culminated with a fourth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. That's a big difference between Lost Code and Mr. Money. The former truly had never faced the best by the time he stepped into the starting gate at Monmouth Park. Mr. Money, on the other hand, did have chances earlier in his career. But just like Lost Code, after Lasix was added and distances increased, Mr. Money found his best stride in the spring of his sophomore season. Trained by Bret Calhoun, the smooth moving son of Goldencents will bring an impressive resume into Saturday's Pennsylvania Derby (G1). The million-dollar race at Parx, located just outside Philadelphia, has become one of the most anticipated 3-year-old races of the year. Division leader Maximum Security, Preakness winner War of Will, and Improbable, the favorite of the first two legs of the Triple Crown, all may be better known by the general public. But Mr. Money is certainly ready to face the best. Mr. Money actually began his win streak at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby day, with a romping victory in the Pat Day Mile (G3). Perhaps lost in the Derby hoopla, his performance was eye-opening. Since then, he has only built upon the strong run, with similarly comprehensive victories in the Matt Winn (G3), also at Churchill Downs, and the Indiana Derby (G3) at Indiana Grand. Most recently, Mr. Money proved he could handle the nine-furlong distance just fine while dismantling the field in the West Virginia Derby (G3). The six-length victory was further proof that he was ready for the big time. Without question, the Pennsylvania Derby, and the major protagonists from this year's Triple Crown series, will offer a far greater challenge for Mr. Money than he has seen since his winning streak began. The horse to beat is Maximum Security, and there is good reason why he is the current leader of the crop. He has accounted for the Florida Derby and Haskell, as well as finishing first in the Kentucky Derby, before being disqualified. Still Mr. Money appears ready for the challenge. He is working extremely well at Churchill Downs since his romp in the West Virginia Derby, and the nine furlongs at Parx would seem an ideal opportunity for him to throw his hat into the ring for the Eclipse Award race. I like Mr. Money's chances, just as I did with Lost Code many years ago. fully expect him to prove his class in the Pennsylvania Derby. And if he does, maybe we will be treated to a race that can hold a candle to that great Haskell of 1987.

 

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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, American Pharoah and Justify. 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. His new racing partnership venture, Derby Day Racing, invites more fans to experience the thrill of racehorse ownership.

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, created the popular racing show, HorseCenter 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 hosting 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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