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Breeders' Cup 2017

HRN Original Blog:
Zipse At The Track

The Dial “A” for Awesome Stakes

Arlington Heights, Illinois is the place to be as a raucous crowd of more than 50,000 thoroughbred racing enthusiasts have come today to see one thing. The greatest horses in racing history that all share the common thread of having a name that begins with the letter A, racing in one of the most eagerly awaited races ever seen. The field of 14 superstars are set to do battle in order to be named the greatest horse to begin the alphabet. The sky has been a most ominous shade of gray and purple all afternoon. A storm is coming to beautiful Arlington Park, but it has yet to hit. The temperature has been hovering at a very comfortable 70 degrees for several hours. I am not sure if it is the great anticipation or the coming storm, but you can feel the electricity in the air. There goes Jean Laurenz, the Arlington Park bugler, and it’s the call to post! The horses look great as they step out on to the main track. The crowd is going absolutely bonkers!

Leading the champions on the track is Ack Ack, winner of three Eclipse Awards in 1971, with Willie Shoemaker aboard. Ack Ack is being let go at attractive odds of 16-1. The number 2 is the excellent mare from the 60's, Affectionately with her usual pilot, Walter Blum. The crowd is not believing that she can carry her speed today though; she is 24-1. Next is the last winner of the Triple Crown, Affirmed. The kid himself, Steve Cauthen is in the irons on the race favorite at 3-1. The 4 is Afleet Alex, the brave winner of the Preakness from his knees, will be ridden by Jeremy Rose and is respected by the crowd today at 9-1. Affirmed's great rival, Alydar is next, second in each leg of the 1977 Triple Crown, the John Veitch trained great will be ridden by Jorge Velasquez and is currently 7-1. Let’s get in a quick word for our most generous sponsor, this most distinguished post parade is brought to you today by Applebee's, There's No Place Like the Neighborhood. Next in line is the number 6, Alysheba, the strapping colt who completed the rare Kentucky Derby-Breeders' Cup Classic combination in 1987 and 1988. Ridden today by Chris McCarron, Alysheba is getting major support from the bettors at 6-1. And there is Alsab, the two-time champion who once bested Whirlaway in a match race. The fans are letting him go at 11-1, but he is looking splendid in the post parade with George Woolf.
The number 8 is A.P. Indy, the impressive Horse of the Year of 1992 is also at 11-1, and will be piloted today by Eddie Delahoussaye. Super BC Juvenile winner Arazi is the 9, and is being somewhat ignored by handicappers today at 23-1. He is followed by Armed, the biggest winner in the field with 41 victories, and Horse of the Year of 1947. The Calumet Farm star is the 6-1 co-second choice. The super filly of the turn of the last century, Artful is next in line, and is a sentimental favorite of many. She's 18-1. Romping winner of the Belmont Stakes and Horse of the Year of 1969, Arts and Letters is next. Ridden by Braulio Baeza, the son of Ribot is currently 14-1. Next is the Club Foot Comet, Assault. The second Triple Crown winner in the field looms a danger at a square price at 10-1. And last but not least is a three-time champion, and Horse of the Year, Azeri with Mike Smith in the saddle. Wow! What a field. The historic race is almost upon us. The horses are loading in a professional manner, let’s get ready to race! They’re all in, and…They’re Off!!!

For the early lead ... that's Ack Ack and Affectionately from the inside with Artful rushing up in the center of the racetrack. Azeri is away well and Affirmed moves up on the rail. Next is Armed, running with Assault, while Alysheba is settled nicely in the middle of the pack by McCarron. A.P. Indy and Arazi are moving in tandem on the outside. Afleet Alex, Alydar, and Arts and Letters are together near the back of the pack with Alsab bringing up the rear. Back on the lead, it's a three-prong battle pace battle between Ack Ack and a pair of speedy fillies. Azeri is in a good position on the outside about three lengths back. She has Affirmed hemmed in on the rail, but the beautiful chestnut is moving easily. It’s gap of two more lengths back to a bunch that includes Armed, Alysheba, and Arazi, as the leading pack hits the first quarter mile in a swift 22 and 3. A.P. Indy moves up a little just to the outside of Alydar, who looks on the muscle today. On the backstretch, Ack Ack and Affectionately have pulled three-quarters ahead of Artful, with Azeri moving closer on the outside. Cauthen angles Affirmed off the rail, just ahead of Alysheba, and Arazi who's made a quick move to get into sixth. Alydar has begun his run, and is followed by Assault, A.P. Indy, and Armed. A little farther back are Afleet Alex and Arts and Letters, with Alsab still in last.
Ack Ack is still being fought tooth and nail … and they've gone six in 1:09 and 3! Affirmed has inched closer to the inside of Azeri, as Artful starts to drop back. Alydar has moved within five lengths of the leader on the outside and Alysheba moves up but will need racing room. That's Armed making up ground on the outside with A.P. Indy and Afleet Alex also moving up. Arts and Letters has been swung to the outside but still has a lot of work to do. Ack Ack finally has a full three-quarters length of breathing room, but Azeri and Affirmed are breathing down on him. Alydar and Armed close the gap as they collar a tiring Affectionately. Cauthen steers Affirmed right on top of Ack Ack, who fights on gamely.

Spinning out of the turn that’s Affirmed who has stuck his head in front. The Triple Crown winner has the lead! Azeri and Ack Ack try to stay with him from his inside and it’s a cavalry charge just behind them. Alydar is poised to strike on the outside, with Armed just inside him. Alysheba is still looking for racing room, with A.P. Indy and Assault in with a chance. Arts and Letters and Alsab have made up ground, but are still several lengths back. Affirmed has taken over with Alydar gaining quickly on the outside. A.P. Indy is unleashing his massive strides on the far outside. Affirmed leads by a half length at the eighth pole, but his rival Alydar, has lapped onto his flank and Armed has spurted to the inside. Steve Cauthen emplores the son of Exclusive Native for everything he has and he finds another gear. That’s Armed battling on the inside and finding room between horses it’s…Alysheba! His sire Alydar is on the outside! Affirmed leads by a neck, Alydar and Armed! Affirmed fights on but Alysheba is moving best of all! Affirmed, Alydar and Alysheba. Alysheba and Affirmed, and at the wire it’s gonna be…Alysheba! Chris McCarron thrusts his whip in jubilation! Alysheba has done it!!! Nipping the gallant champion, Affirmed in the shadow of the wire with the Calumet pair, Alydar and Armed third and fourth in a spine tingling four-horse photo. Wow!!! What a race! Alysheba did it!!!

A streak of lightning and a roar of thunder are of little notice as the crowd is still screaming in awe of what they just saw. 14 champions have just thrilled the world! Alysheba’s connections are over the moon as he prances into the winner’s circle. Alysheba might be the winner, but what a race all of these horses just ran. The final order of finish in the Dial “A” for Awesome was Alysheba 1st, Affirmed 2nd, Alydar 3rd, Armed 4th, A.P. Indy 5th, Azeri 6th, Arts and Letters 7th, Afleet Alex 8th, Alsab 9th, Assault 10th, Ack Ack 11th, Azeri 12th, Affectionately was 13th, and Artful came home last. At the finish the first ten horses were separated only by an incredible 4¾ lengths. Alysheba paid $15.80 to his happy supporters and ran the fastest 1 3/16 ever run at Arlington Park with a final time of 1:53.83. Well racing fans, it was an incredible day and an incredible race. Alysheba has done it…he has earned the title of Horse of the Letter “A”.


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Older Comments about The Dial “A” for Awesome Stakes...

Alysheba was the most tenacious horse of the 20th century...and one of the most underrated! Glad he won!!!
When Can we expect Un-"B"-lievable Stakes from Belmont? Will it be run on Bastille Day? I think you should run the whole alphabet. It would be tremendous fun! You can post a poll for 2 days prior to the running and maybe give away random gifts (hats, t-shirts, etc.) to one of those who picked the winners.
I cant even remember who I picked now! LOL It was either Alysheba or A.P. Indy..
Loved Alysheba, but did he really just beat Affirmed? I don't know Zipse!
The exacta paid $74.40 ... check is in the mail ;-)
Hey, I had the Alysheba over the field exacta... where are the pay offs??

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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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