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Breeders' Cup 2017

HRN Original Blog:
Zipse At The Track

The Wrong Filly for the Right Race


When the field enters the starting gate for the 139th running of the Preakness Stakes on Saturday, there will be one entrant a little different than the rest. No, I am not talking about the Kentucky Derby winner, California Chrome, but rather the lone filly joining the boys. Ria Antonia will become the first filly to run in the Preakness since Rachel Alexandra won racing’s Middle Jewel in 2009. While I would love to see a filly in this year’s Preakness … Ria Antonia is decidedly the wrong one.


In the Kentucky Oaks, run 15 days before the Preakness, Untapable was confidently made an overwhelming favorite at odds of even money in the field of 12. Meanwhile, Ria Antonia was respected, but only to the point of being the 10-1 fourth choice. The money was right, as the pair pretty much ran to their respective odds. Ria Antonia raced a bit wide, made a move on the far turn, but did not have much left for the stretch drive. She faded to 6th, beaten better than 15 lengths by the easy winner. That easy winner, of course, was Untapable.


Doing what she had done all year, Untapable looked like a woman against girls. Ridden with supreme confidence by Rosie Napravnik, the daughter of Tapit was comfortably parked within striking distance for the first seven furlongs or so, before pouncing as the field entered the stretch. She proved much the best from there, and cruised home to a popular 4 ½ length score.


On top of her dominant wins in the Rachel Alexandra and Fair Grounds Oaks earlier in the season, there can be little doubt that Untapable is the cream of the three-year old filly crop. It would seem that she is ready for new worlds to conquer.


The Preakness would also seem like an excellent spot to take that shot. Races don’t get much bigger than the Middle Jewel, and at 1 3/16 miles, and with many of the top Kentucky Derby horses, besides California Chrome, sitting this one out, she would rate a big shot, in my estimation. Some may say that it would be too much too soon, but with only three races so far this year, I cannot imagine that a 15 day rest would be too quick a turnaround for a filly obviously thriving right now.

It’s not to be, though, as her connections say no. They would prefer to take a more conservative approach, and that’s fine … she is their filly afterall. That leaves us instead with Ria Antonia for the Preakness. A filly who is 0-for-3 this year, is on her third trainer in 2014, and is likely only in there to give her owners a thrill in the post parade. I think she would have a real shot in the Black-Eyed Susan, but in the Preakness, I only see discouragement in her immediate future. Right race - Wrong filly. 



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Older Comments about The Wrong Filly for the Right Race...

And my point, Mike, is that there's nothing you can do about it even if you wanted to, so why dwell on it? You can't change the rules to force trainers and owners to run their horses more often, and unless you do that you can't make them do it voluntarily. Nobody wants to take the financial risk. And BTW I don't think the frequency of races is what is ruining young horses, I think it's the concrete race tracks (especially Gulfstream) banging up their still growing bodies.
You are right ekindy in the distant past they did all run that way and had better results. That is the point I am trying to make. Todays horses run ever 5-6 weeks and how is that working out, how many horses on peoples Derby lists in January are even running now. Look at all the 3 year olds in the last few years that are injured before the year is over. Two years ago both I'll Have Another and Union Rags were raced with big layoffs between races and neither were racing past June. The point I am trying to make is that I don't believe running with 5-6 week gaps between races is good for the horse and does not help their performance. If horses today would run without drugs and more often, in my opinion, they would be healthier and have better success on the track as well.
Oh geez - let the filly run and stop the nonsense of 'what ifs' and whatever overtures that might/would have involved Untapable. That's for another time, if any. So for the present - line them up and let's go.
Hate to make you feel old Exterminator, but that's 36 years ago. In the sports world that is eons.
The other thing you have to remember, is that the Kentucky Derby/Preakness Stakes examples of the recent past aren't exactly the best of examples wither. Why? Because a good number of the better Derby horses who lose will skip the Preakness. The competition is not as good in the Preakness as it is in the Derby and the Belmont. How many recent Belmont winners ran the Derby and Preakness? I think you have to go back to Afleet Alex to find one, who also happened to win the Preakness.
1973 is the "distant past"?
Mike, maybe I'm not getting my point across. Examples of the distant past (and yes, Affirmed is the distant past) don't work, because in the distant past, they all worked that way. The good ones and the not-so-good ones. Nowadays they all race every 4-5 weeks. If you take one horse and give him a race every two weeks and put him against horses who get 5 weeks, even if he is that much better it will eventually catch up. I can see CC winning Saturday because this is only one cycle. You make him do it again in 3 weeks at 12f against good fresh colts and he's got little to no shot.
ekindy look at how many times the "fresh horse" has won the Preakness. Since 2000 only 3 horses have won the Preakness without running in the Derby, and one of them, Rachel, ran in the Oaks one day before the Derby and another, Bernardini, ran in the Withers three weeks before the Preakness. The idea that horses cannot run well on two weeks rest is not supported by racing history. Just look at the Triple Crown winners from the 1970's. Not only did they win 3 of the biggest races in 5 weeks, they all had prep races two weeks before the Derby. Affirmed ran in the San Felipe 2 weeks before the Santa Anita Derby then 2 weeks later ran in the Hollywood Derby then 2 weeks later won the Triple Crown. If you look at the records of most good horses in the last century the all ran with short rest and were successful. In those days running in a big race without a prep race 2-3 weeks before was considered a big disadvantage.
Mike, that might work if all horses ran on 2 weeks rest. But in an otherwise equal race, if you put 9 horses with 2 weeks rest against 1 with 5 weeks rest, the rested one will have an advantage. Most owners and trainers would rather go in a big race with the 1 than with any of the other 9. And no race track is going to limit any of their races to horses who have only run within the last 2 or 3 weeks.
This modern trend of wanting 5-6 weeks between races is, in my opinion, very bad for racing and is not if fact better for the horses. The history of the sport and even today in the Triple Crown races shows that horses can run well on 2 weeks rest. I am not a great fan of racing fillies against colts, but Untapable is a special filly and would be a strong second favorite in the Preakness.
Ruffianlover, unfortunately the Ogden Phipps is explicitly 4+ and not 3+, otherwise she might have done that. And the winner of that race could very well go on to open company after that. So if Untapable can't move up in class in age, it makes sense to consider moving up in class as far as sex restriction. I agree the Preakness is pushing it and the last 2 Belmont fillies were never themselves again, but the Haskell would be an excellent spot for her.
actually i think untappable is going to be as great as RA and ZENYATTA THIS FILLY IS AMAZING IMO
It is, however, understandable, that in light of everything going on in the Asmussen camp, that they take a conservative path.
In my defense, I haven't been this excited over a 3yo filly who didn't run in the Oaks in a LONG time... Chrome is the besr Cal-bred we've seen lately, Fiftyshadesofgold is the best Texas-bred. I'm biased though, living about 5-10 mikes away from her birthplace as Valor Farm.
Untapable is not Rachel Alexandra and never will be. Sorry, but that's what I think and that's what I will continue to think until she does what Rachel did. There are several good fillies this year, and I hope she continues to be one of them. If she wins the Acorn over the filly I think will win it, my opinion of Untapable might change. For now, she's just a nice filly with a questionable trainer.
Rightracenofillies.org in my opinion. Love Untapable but she needs to show me she can run with Princess and Beholder before I give her a shot against Chrome one of the best three year old males we have had in awhile

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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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