Race of the Week 2017

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Zipse At The Track

The Older Males of 2012 are terrific

Within a few hours of each other yesterday afternoon, two of the best horses in America reinforced my belief that the 2012 group of older males is among the strongest we have seen so far in the 21st century.
First it was Mucho Macho Man turning in a performance that can only be described as nothing short as the best of his career. A year and a half ago, the gangly and young juvenile could not handle To Honor and Serve in the big fall two-year-old races at Aqueduct. Now a big, strong, and mature man, there doesn’t appear much that Mucho Macho Man cannot handle. With new rider, Mike Smith in tow, the 4-year-old son of Macho Uno colt chased the early speed of Trickmeister through a fast half of 45.68 seconds, with race favorite To Honor and Serve not far behind. Mucho Macho Man threw down the gauntlet on the far turn and it was quickly apparent that he had more horsepower than the horse that had his number back when both were juveniles. The Kathy Ritvo trained colt hit the front as the field straightened out, and from there he coasted to a sparkling 2 ½-length victory over the late running Hymn Book. The win was not only ultra-impressive, over a stellar field, but it was fast, as Mucho Macho Man completed the nine furlongs in 1:46.58 to add the Grade 2, $350,000 Suburban Handicap at Belmont Park to his growing list of accomplishments.
Then came the great gelding, Game On Dude and the Hollywood Gold Cup. After following longshot pacesetter Spud Spivens through a robust first half mile in 47.71, Game On Dude took command  and started to inch away around the far turn, spurting about three lengths clear of the field with a quarter of a mile to run. As second choice, Richard’s Kid began to gain ground it looked the new King of California may be in for a real challenge, but he dug in and maintained a healthy advantage over his stablemate to the wire under some left handed encouragement from rider, Chantal Sutherland. For Sutherland, the victory marked the first female to ever win the Gold Cup, as the pair prevailed by 1 ½ lengths in the Grade 1 affair. Like Mucho Macho Man, Game On Dude scored his third impressive stakes victory in four starts this year, with only a troubled trip in the Dubai World Cup blemishing his 2012 record.
After seeing what we saw yesterday, it would be easy to argue that the pair are the best two horses in America, but that of course would be forgetting such stalwarts as Ron the Greek, Wise Dan, Shackleford, Acclamation, and a host of other older males that make up this deep group. Not to mention the younger male stares like Bodemeister and Union Rags, as well as, the classy distance loving filly, Royal Delta. Can you imagine what this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic may look like?
It may be too early to get overly excited about the big race, still four months away, but it’s not too early to appreciate a terrific bunch of older males. 
I may not have mentioned them yet, but I would be remiss in also giving props to these older males: Animal Kingdom, Caleb’s Posse, Hymn Book, Alternation, Successful Dan, Fort Larned, To Honor and Serve, Richard’s Kid, Trickmeister, Nates Mineshaft, Stay Thirsty, Caixa Eletronica, Redeemed, and Star Guitar. I’m sure I missed a few, but you get the idea.


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Older Comments about The Older Males of 2012 are terrific...

abby.. what if mission impassibler wins the classic? he would not get older male..you need to refine your process
Which horses will run in Breeders Cup Thoroughbred Championship of World will get the Older Males of 2012?
The older males this year are good and it is a deep group, but I am not sure there is a great older horse like Curlin or Invasor in the bunch.
I have to agree with you, ILTR. Home court advantage never hurts, and he doesn't have to travel.
Game On Dude is hard as nails. Kudos to Bob Baffert for shipping him thousands of miles to Meydan back in March for the G1 Dubai World Cup. But I never really felt like the surface at Meydan would be a big plus for him. Nor has been for Richard's Kid over the past year or so. Also very good to see him back with Bob Baffert again racing in California. Barring anything that would cut Game On Dude's season short unexpectedly? I'd be really surprised if he doesn't turn out to be our BC Classic winner in November. Especially with the race being run at Santa Anita this year. JMO.
Eagle is getting an extended vacation and should be returning to training during the late summer. He is also one that I would argue belongs at the top of the division despite his disastrous Big Cap. I think he could compete with the best on either turf or dirt; he's really quite versatile.
Good points.. Where is the eagle? he was on a roll earlier in the season.
The older male division is definitely deep - one horse you didn't mention was Ultimate Eagle. I'm waiting eagerly for him to return to racing, though I've heard he'll be on the turf to avoid GoD (which is probably a wise move, though he might have to contend with Acclamation instead). He's a monster, even if he is one-dimensional. I think if Acclamation has the kind of year he had last year and adds a BC win to it, he could easily end up with HOTY. Really thought you could make a solid case for him deserving it last year with his 2011 resume, but I think the lack of a BC run compromised his chances.
Stay Thirsty will round into one of the best older males of 2012 at Saratoga.
  • xmango93x · And then proceed to return to being an average-at-best horse at the end of the Saratoga meet. · 2023 days ago
Shackleford is the man.
GOD ain't got balls..
  • CraigBradshaw · but, he's got lotsa run. ron the greek is the only horse that can maybe match up to him at this juncture. · 2023 days ago
It's a really exciting bunch of horses. I didn't like Game on Dude much last year, but I have tons of respect for him this year. But come on, Animal Kingdom? The one hit wonder? He doesn't belong in this group. Royal Delta would eat him for breakfast.
  • Show All 3 Comments
  • Floridaf · Craig, I think kedez has a valid point. Royal Delta has run at 10 furlongs twice; she won the G1 Alabama, but she then finished a very troubled 9th in the DWC. · 2023 days ago
  • CraigBradshaw · my contention is, animal kingdom has won at 10f, in a major race, and, if not clipped in belmont, may have won at 12f. he's proven himself against the best males, and if healthy, is a formidable talent in distance races. though i think that she is a very talented mare, i'm skeptical that royal delta would even do as well in the bc classic as hdg did. she wasn't troubled in the dwc. she was outclassed, but so was dude. · 2023 days ago
Arent they both G1 winners? With big bank rolls who will go in to stud and make there owners millions upon millions.. nice try revere
This is going to be a humdinger of a BC this year.
To Honor and Serve, Stay Thirsty are sorry horses.
like flat out last year
Fantastic list, Brian! Like kedez, I don't agree with Animal Kingdom, but I agree with all the rest. With the BC and my due date being around the same time, I'm not sure which one I'm more excited about! ;-)
the "dazzling" time in the suburban was achieved in a one turn 9f race. would have been somewhat slower had it gone 2 turns. distance race times at belmont are misleading as a result.
it's an excellent array of older handicap horses listed, but dude, baffert, and chantal are on a mission to win the classic that they let slip away last november.

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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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