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Breeders' Cup 2017

HRN Original Blog:
Zipse At The Track

Unlocking Tomorrow's Winner with Belmont's Past

What's the old saying? “Those who don't know their history are doomed to repeat it.” Trying not to fall into that trap, I've decided to pour over my memory bank of Belmont's Past to better prepare myself for tomorrow's outcome. In so doing, I have found winners of previous runnings that have an awful lot in common with horses in this year's field. Here is what I came up with...

Master of Hounds – Will look to become this year's Go and Go. It was 1990, when the Irish import ran away and hid from the Belmont field that included Derby winner, Unbridled. It was clear that day that the Dermot Weld runner benefited from a strong foundation of training back in Europe that emphasizes distance much more than used for American runners. If it is Master of Hounds tomorrow, sprinting home while the others look like they are standing still, it will be Go and Go all over again.

Santiva – You need to look no longer back than last year's Belmont to find the horse to compare Santiva with. Just like Drosselmeyer, Santiva is a well bred horse who despite good form has not broke through in a big race to date. His strategy should be to get good position early and then grind his way to the wire as the field begins to tire from the marathon distance, just as the Bill Mott trainee was able to do last year.

Brilliant Speed – Birdstone may have been one of the most unpopular winners ever of the Belmont Stakes, but in many ways he reminds me of Brilliant Speed. They both have Classic American breeding that suggests distance. Brilliant Speed will try to make a big late run like the Mary Lou Whitney charge was able to do when he rebounded from a mediocre Derby, skipped the Preakness, and then uncorked a sustained rally which reeled in the people's favorite in the late stages.
For more on my thoughts on the 2011 Belmont Stakes, you can visit my article on Thorofan here.

Nehro – Empire Maker may seem like a strange choice, as he was more accomplished than Nehro to date, but both horses were lightly raced, and ran a solid 2nd in the Derby, before passing on the Preakness. Empire Maker proved to be as good as anyone in his crop with a solid win over Ten Most Wanted and Funny Cide in the Belmont. It would not be much of a surprise to see Nehro take the same big step tomorrow.

Animal Kingdom – For the Derby winner, I chose Thunder Gulch as a strong comparison. Both were sent off at high odds in the Derby, but were able to make a powerful move on the turn to carry them to the glory and the roses. Each colt ran well in losing races in the Preakness, in fact Animal Kingdom was even closer to winning. Of course, Thunder Gulch went a long way to clinching an Eclipse, with a strong win in the Belmont.

Mucho Macho Man – Like the surprise winner of the 1980 Belmont Stakes, Temperence Hill, Mucho Macho Man has shown flashes of brilliance. Each horse won one of the Kentucky Derby preps but displayed immaturity and disappointed in others. Temperence Hill stretched his long legs to win the Test of a Champion on a wet track, which began a more consistent second half of his champion year. Like him, Mucho Macho Man could be ready to put it all together at Big Sandy.

Shackleford – I went all the way back to Bold Forbes as a horse for Shackleford to emulate. There have been other horses to wire the Belmont, since the 1976 winner, but none came into the race with the credentials of this year's Preakness winner. Back in the day, Bold Forbes was able to use his speed to grab the early lead, and despite getting a little tired late, could not be caught. Shackleford has his work cut out for him, but I would never count out quality speed in any race.

As far as Stay Thirsty, Ruler on Ice, Monzon, Prime Cut, and Isn't He Perfect, I can't say I see to much to recommend them … Of course I couldn't find much to like in Sarava or Da 'Tara either.

[And if you want even more help on the big race, please check out the fantastic research my friend and colleague, Mike Shutty, does on the Super Screener.]


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Older Comments about Unlocking Tomorrow's Winner with Belmont's Past...

I lvoe the comparison of Drosselmeyer and Santiva ;)
I like your comments but going to have to go with the chalk in this one. Animal Kingdom just looks too good for this field. If he stays close to the pace he should run away with it. Late closers rarely win the Belmont so don't get caught up too much on the distance thing...
"due to win" is usually a losing horse. However I like him a lot.
How cool Brian. Thank you for these comparisons, as a chance to look back at history. It only makes me more confused, though. I picked D'Tara! I wouldn't remember that except that I was new to handicapping and Kyle and I were stuck at LAX. We ran up a far greater bar tab ( I think we were there 24 hours) than I won with my $5 win bet on D'Tara, but nevertheless ! He was improving and maybe had done well at Belmont? In any case, I am still pondering tomorrow. Thanks always for your insights into the history I don't have.
I think Mucho Macho Man is in line for a big race. He gets the Mo-mon man aboard and should be primed for a big effort. As long as he can keep his shoes he should be up closer to the pace and really have a good chance to make a strong rally coming from the 10-slot. I bet on him in the Derby and the Preakness and Im not about to get off him now. Whether he can beat Animal Kingdom that remains to be seen, but Im confident he'll finish no worse than second.
Stay Thirsty's brother Andromeda's Hero was second in the 05 Belmont. Sure a different horse, but I give him a better chance then Mucho Macho Man.
Comparing the horses racing tomorrow with the horses in the past is awesome! I like looking at a horse's bloodlines to see if they have any champions in there somewhere. A lot of horses are somehow related to Secretariat. Nehro (which is my pick) has Seattle Slew, Secretariat, and A.P. Indy in his bloodline. I think it's all pretty cool!
I LOVE the comparison to the runners of the past! Well done Brian!!

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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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