Race of the Week 2017

HRN Original Blog:
Zipse At The Track

Travers Day thoughts, and Pacific Classic dreams

Another Travers Day has come and gone, and as usual, it provided plenty of thrills. First off, I want to say thank you to everyone who sent me a note saying I helped them hit the Pick 4 yesterday. Knowing that several friends hit it is so much better than winning alone! I wish Fast Falcon could have got there for the gigantic hit, but I can never complain at a nice score. I love the combination of races that NYRA has put together to highlight Travers Day and I’ve now cashed on this bet for the third consecutive year. Needless to say, it has become my favorite bet of the year. But enough about me, here are the highlights of yesterday’s big day…
There can be no doubt on who turned in the best overall performance on this day. Zagora was scintillating! She looked like an absolute powder keg on the turn, and when she was cut loose she exploded. Even a powerful late run by Hungry Island looked somewhat pedestrian as the Chad Brown mare kicked away to win the Grade Ballston Spa in track record time.
Contested looked like the best one-turn, three-year-old filly in the nation going in to the Test Stakes, and she did nothing to change that belief yesterday. Breaking a beat slow, I liked the way she was able to settle well of the fast early pace while having the speed to gain a good position into the far turn. From there it was a pretty simple victory. This experience should suit her well in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint
Steamin’ Willy Beamin! I believed he could do it, three days removed from an easy win in the Albany Stakes, because he was sharp and he would have plenty of pace to run at in the prestigious King’s Bishop. Everything went as planned for the now grade 1 winner, and he got there with a late rush. I love it when a plan comes together!
No world beaters in there, but I hope you enjoyed the wild Travers finish! I was screaming for Fast Falcon to get there for selfishly monetary reasons, but seeing Alpha and Golden Ticket dead heat in the Mid-Summer Derby was something special. In fact it was the first time it happened in 128 years!
But the weekend of great racing is not over. Del Mar’s biggest day of racing is upon us with the $1 million TVG Pacific Classic, and I think it offers a very interesting betting proposition. While I have no doubt that Game On Dude is the class of this field, I think there are a couple of powerful reasons to try to beat him today. First off, I believe that of all his regular tracks, Del Mar is clearly his least favorite racing surface. Remember his trainer, Bob Baffert, was saying this big race was not a definite on his schedule just a short time ago because of his uncertainty about the surface for his star runner. Another problem for the big favorite today is he has a very speedy Riveting Reason breaking directly to his outside. Coming from the nine hole in a ten furlong race, with speed pressure right outside, could make things a little sticky for Game On Dude and rider Chantal Sutherland in the early going. Having said that, Game On Dude is all class and could win anyway. While I think there are legitimately six other horses who could easily upset the favorite, including the second choice, and new member of the Doug O’Neill barn, Richard’s Kid, I have landed on a couple of others in Where’s Sterling and Suggestive Boy.
Where’s Sterling is a horse I’ve liked for some time. Last year’s Iselin winner got knocked hard when making a run in this year’s Grade 1 Donn, and after throwing in a clunker in his next race, is now back to his best form. Look for him to thoroughly enjoy the distance and brisk pace, and a rallying win at high odds today would come as no surprise to me.
Meanwhile, Suggestive Boy could be the name on everyone’s lips very soon. The Ron McAnally, Argentine import, has impressed me greatly with his first two races in America after starring in South America. He does get more distance and a surface switch today, but the Del Mar synthetic surface often plays well to turf runners, and he has won going this long before. Look for him to get first run at the leaders on the far turn, and I believe he may prove to be this good
On the undercard, I look for one of my favorites to bounce with a vengeance in the Grade 2 Del Mar Mile. Mr. Commons has not received the kind of ride I was hoping for in any of his losses this year, so the addition of blinkers and rider switch are a welcome change in my eyes. Horses like Jeranimo, Obviously, and Norvsky make this a real challenge, but I still have every belief that Mr. Commons has it, and cannot only win today, but also make some major noise in this year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile.
And last but certainly not least, it’s back to Saratoga for the Grade 1 Personal Ensign for the big Royal Delta vs. It’s Tricky showdown. The new 1 1/8 mile distance of the race seems like a perfect compromise for the two, but if I had to make a choice, it would be Bill Mott’s Royal Delta who I consider the best older female in the nation.


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Older Comments about Travers Day thoughts, and Pacific Classic dreams...

@TV, you may have a point with the best seat in the house being in your Living Room w/ big screeen television. Del Mar reports earthquakes and aftershocks, coupled with added security measures of bomb-sniffing dogs and sharp-shooters on roof tops....
Game On Dude should get some pressure from the #1 #6,#8, or #10.
can anyone make a case for Richar's Kid. TOO FAR out of it to get there with Game on setting the pace
Went to Aniat for the 86 Breeder's Cup and could not get a seat...Refused to even try the expereince again unless we had a shot at seeing the races.
On track at Traver's day in the humidity and heat and the throngs, IF you don't have a seat, it can be miserable. Unless you have a seat higher up, you miss seeing the race anyway. Take it from someone who has watched races there in both extremes. WIthout a seat, in the heat, the expereince can be less than exciting.
What a great day of racing yesterday at Saratoga! It was so exciting, even in my living room across the country. I can only imagine how thrilling it must have been there at the track to experience Willy's win, Zagora's record breaker, and course the historic dead heat. Today, it's Richard's Kid for me-- with all due respect to GOD, I think Del Mar might be his Achilles heel. I will have my fingers crossed for Mr. Commons and hope he runs to his potential. And with no doubt Royal Delta. Like Mary Z., I always will have her as my #1.
And, congrats on your p4.
It was a pleasure to read this blog, Brian. I have G.O.D. and RK 1-2 in the Pacific Classic, but I like Where's Sterling. He was my Donn pick and I agree that the bump with Hymn Book cost him; I think it cost him the win. I'm in total agreement with you about Royal Delta, not that it's a choice for me--I always pick her.
Yes, I was quite remiss in this department yesterday, but congrats on the P4 win, Brian! Game On Dude and Richard's Kid are my top picks for the Pac Classic for obvious reasons, but Suggestive Boy sure is intriguing.
Thanks for the insight on Where's Sterling. He has been an intriguing prospect since in printed out the pp's. I know that Calabrese has won big stakes at DMR before at good prices.
The BSFs are in: Golden Ticket/Alpha 100, Contested 91, Willy Beamin 97, Zagora 102. A bit low for Contested in the Test. I think Game On Dude is a play against also.

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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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