Race of the Week 2017

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Zipse At The Track

Toby’s Corner is Not a Donkey

Zipse’s Kentucky Derby Daily – Day 22

Never mind the surprise which transpired down the Aqueduct stretch in the Wood Memorial, and whether Uncle Mo ran to his ability or not, my contention is there were other good horses in that field. In a race where more than one person used the dreaded “D” word to describe the opponents of Mo that day (that’s right, some racing fans called the Wood Memorial field, sans Mo, a bunch of donkeys); there emerged at least one more bright light destined for Louisville. I suppose after the implosion of Uncle Mo, from the clear cut Kentucky Derby favorite into a huge question mark, some might include Uncle Mo in the donkey brigade, but that is neither fair, nor accurate. The winner, Toby’s Corner is a real nice colt and a very deserving member of the Kentucky Derby field.

Now mind you I have absolutely nothing against donkeys. I actually have found the ones that I have met to be docile, good natured animals. They have little in common with the world’s most beautiful and noble animal though … the thoroughbred race horse. OK, we’ve established that calling a thoroughbred a donkey is a no-no in my book; by the way, I don’t even like it in a field of $5,000 claimers, but let’s get back to the merits of Toby’s Corner.

I have always thought him a nice horse, but honestly I did not consider him a top candidate to wear the roses, that is, until recently. After finishing 3rd in a sloppy maiden sprint at Delaware last October, Toby’s Corner has reeled off four wins in five starts, including an impressive win in the Whirlaway Stakes, and of course the big Wood win. His only loss in that stretch came when he rallied to be 3rd in the Gotham Stakes behind Stay Thirsty. He reportedly fought the bit that day, and seems to have really been helped by the addition of blinkers. In the Wood, Toby’s Corner finished full of run despite tepid fractions. In fact he never really looked like a winner until he found a new gear late in the race. That fact, as well as, the way he was able to maneuver through traffic, and then gallop out strongly past the wire, all are good signs for the First Saturday in May.

Owned and bred by Dianne Cotter, who also bred his sire and former Wood Memorial hero, Bellamy Road, Toby’s Corner is in very capable hands. The bay colt resides in the barn of trainer Graham Motion. Best known for training top turf horses like Better Talk Now and Film Maker, I feel confident in Motion’s ability to have a horse fit for the ten furlong Kentucky Derby. If he is good enough, his trainer should have him ready for a peak effort. Toby’s Corner is not the only late developer that interests me, but he does seem to fit well into my new strategy for this year’s Derby.

That new strategy being, that I’ve decided to throw out everything I thought I knew about this year's Kentucky Derby just a short time ago. I'm starting with a clean slate, as are all the contenders in my eyes. I'm not positive it will help me pick the winner, but with a victor that is likely to be the one that peaks in May, and pays $30 or more, I feel this stripping down of 'old' thinking is bound to help.

So remember the next time you are about speak about a field of thoroughbreds as donkeys, mules, or nags, please … bite your tongue. You just might be talking about Toby’s Corner, or maybe even your next winner of the Kentucky Derby.


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Older Comments about Toby’s Corner is Not a Donkey...

After the SA Derby, it seemed very likely that the decision not to run had been reversed ... Derby fever is alive and well!
Brian, did the connections confirm Comma to the Top will go on to the Derby? I remember the interview just prior to the SA Derby when Peter Miller indicated that his last race was the SA Derby because the horse needs a rest and can't get the 1 1/4 distance...do we have an "Derby Fever" reversal in play?
Don't forget about Comma to the Top as more pure speed in the Derby.
Toby was HARD to pull up! Of course he's gonna need some luck too. If The Factor and Mo slug it out, it could set it up for one of them. From a betting standpoint, I'm looking for a deeeeeep closer!
i don't know how anyone could say he is. i think a lot of us had him has a sleeper when the derby trail began.
If I had to pick one horse right now, it would either be Dialed In or Toby's Corner. I absolutely loved his late burst in the Wood.

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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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