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Breeders' Cup 2017

HRN Original Blog:
Zipse At The Track

Racing Needs a Rivalry like Havana and Honor Code


Affirmed and Alydar. You cannot say the name of one of these magnificent thoroughbreds without including the other. No matter that Affirmed hit the wire first in eight out of the ten, their rivalry was as good as racing gets. Back then, their exploits drove the sport, and together their names made it into most every American household. Affirmed and Alydar will live on in history. Their pair of names will be tied as closely together as their noses were after twelve furlongs of an unforgettable edition of the Belmont Stakes. I still miss the amazing rivalry that was Affirmed and Alydar.


There have been some good ones since, and in fact two of the best included sons of Alydar. Alysheba had his Bet Twice, and Easy Goer went at it with Sunday Silence. More recently, a pair of California grays, named Silver Charm and Free House took pride in doing whatever they could to reach the wire in front of the other. Each of these rivalries thrilled racing fans with both their class, as well as, the consistency of their matchups. Battle lines were drawn, and when they raced, we rooted for either one or the other. I believe our sport is yearning for another great rivalry.


Havana and Honor Code met for the first time today in the Grade 1 Champagne. It marked each talented colt’s second lifetime start. Without gunning the hyperbole engine too hard, too fast … it was a bit of a classic.  Havana’s early speed just being able to just make it to the wire in front of the oncoming stretch-running power of Honor Code. 


Chances are, these two will not race each other six, eight, ten times in the next few years. Odds are slim that they will be battling it out in each leg of the 2014 Triple Crown. Affirmed and Alydar they will likely never be, but you know what? I really liked what I saw from both colts, and I just have a feeling that this was only chapter 1 of a brand new rivalry.


Wouldn’t it be wonderful if thirty years from now a racing writer pined for the good old days of these two? Racing needs a rivalry like Havana and Honor Code.  


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Older Comments about Racing Needs a Rivalry like Havana and Honor Code...

come on THESE two sides will keep these two as far away from each other as long as they can...That is an historical reality repeated frequently over the years.
Two Beautiful Colts! Let us all remember, HONOR CODE is A.P. Indys last chance at a Kentucky Derby Champion! Ive got my fingers crossed for the Great Colt all the way to the Derby!
Hurt honor code
I definitely think the speed bias help Havana and only
I have never been one for awards.Maybe my thought process would be different,if i ever had a worthy horse. Do not sell Havana short and think he is a horse needing a biased surface to win. From what i have seen so far,there are 3 that i would consider above him,even though his speed figures say otherwise. If Havana is lucky to win the Jeuvenile,he will of earned it .
As much as I would love to see him win the juvenile I agree. I would hate to see him falter due to the speed bias and then people doubt him. Unfortunately without him there though Havana will probably win and win the eclipse :/
Ruffianlover, as i stated about Honor Code.The ceiling for this guy is unbelievable.If i had my druthers (AND I DON'T). As much as a difficult task it would be to fight off he temptaion. I would love to see Shug convince the owners to bypass the BC Jeuvenile and point to the Remsen at Aqueduct on Nov. 30t (at 1 1/8th) .Who knows how he will react to the cross country trek,then have to acclimate himself to new surroundings.Not to mention to run on a day,that will be jammed with wall to wall people.Lastly,to potentially race on a surface that will definately favor front end horses. Let us be honest,The only goal at this stage of the game,the connections should be pointing to.That would be back to back Derby winners for the Hall of Famer Shug. He will be doing his share of traveling and roughing it as a 3yo.
HOTY havre de grace. I also think the rivalry will most likely be between honor code and strong mandate once mandate gets back into form. Just didn't fire yesterday which does happen sometimes
I loved them both..will never forget Dunkirk's valient Belmont and of course I have a Shug bias so I root for all his horses ..both looked to be pretty danged impressive..whoo hoo!!!!
No one missed havre and blind kicks rivalry- blind luck is one of my favorite horses of all time. She was brilliant and own most of those meetings between her and the eventual
@zipse- it's because Santa Anita is usually speed biased and Havana is all speed. That doesn't mean Havana is the better horse. For sure honor code proved that yesterday by eating up ground like nobody's business. Plus the better horse does not always win the juvenile and especially not at Santa Anita. Think union rags and hansen
It seems 90% of the comments I've seen are Honor Code is better. I can see why the excitement, but I like Havana better for the Breeders' Cup.
Johnny,do not get down on Strong Mandate, He did what most 2 year olds would do under the circumstance. He was asked to make his career start in basicically 11 weeks. These are young horses that need to mature and develop mentally and physically. Constantly running them,although good for the fans .This is not so good on the horse. My same concern now for Sweet Reason,if they do decide to wheel her back in the BC Jeuvenile for fillies,she will be making her 3rd Graded Stakes appearance in 8 weeks. At that level,the competition is 2nd to none.They never get a break during the race. Plenty of Dances coming up. It is not etched in stone,that one has to dance every dance. Hopefully, someone will not be asking the same question. What happened to ????????
Blind Luck and Havre de Grace were a brilliant rivalry, and it's a shame that the averag e American only follows the Triple Crown races. Doing this they miss the older horses, and also Blind Luck and Havre de Grace, one of the greatest rivalries in recent history.
I was disappointed about Strong Mandate-what happened?
Ruffian, i definately agree with you there.These 2 ,i seriously doubt will be in the same grouping as they progress in distances. Honor Code will surpass Havana.To me that is a no brainer.But Havana is so fast,doubt that there are that many that will run with him ,and i do not mean on the front end.The fact that H.C. is showing so much ability,and still showing bad habits is the scary part.When this guys head,catches up to his abilities.He will be one scary racehorse.
Rivals were usually the result of barns that were not i the game for the money...NOT too many of them left these days
I honestly don't think we will see a rivalry between these two- Havana seems to me to be all speed where was honor code has a nice turn of foot plus seems like he will relish distance and have stamina. Even though Havana won- I was more impressed by honor code
Maybe we'll see them on a wednesday night ---> Name Those Rivals.

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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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