Race of the Week 2017

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Zipse At The Track

What an I’ll Have Another win would mean to me

I'll Win Another

As a child of the seventies, to say I saw my fair share of equine heroes is an understatement. Spending many of my childhood Saturdays at Belmont Park was heaven on earth for a young fan of great horses. Autumns at the grand track provided the chance to see dozens of top horses each and every season. But as good and as memorable as those Septembers and Octobers growing up were, nothing could match the magic of the Triple Crown. Seeing Secretariat turn into a superhero within two minutes and twenty four seconds transformed grown men into little boys, while adult women were reduced to tears. That race, and those moments, are my oldest tangible memory.


It was different in 1978. I was older. Reading the Daily Racing Form was old hat by then and I was acutely aware of the magnificent rivalry of Affirmed and Alydar. While the way Secretariat did it was nothing short of awe inspiring, there was also a level of mystery in the air. No horse had been able to win the Triple Crown for 25 years, and all of a sudden there he was. Secretariat’s Belmont may have been the greatest performance ever in racing, but it also broke through a barrier that had begun to seem unbreakable.


Affirmed, on the other hand, was the third Triple Crown winner within six years, coming just one season after Seattle Slew. Because of this, winning the Crown did not carry quite the same cachet as the first Triple Crown I saw. No matter. What Affirmed did have was Alydar. The rivalry was as good as it gets, and that Belmont will undoubtedly go down as the greatest race of my lifetime. Alydar’s excellence allowed for Affirmed’s courageousness to come shining through. Different than Secretariat, but Affirmed was a superhero nonetheless.


Now we come to I’ll Have Another, in a time when racing has its share of problems. Political, economic, what have you, the sport can no longer hide any dirty little secrets that were previously swept under the rug. He also comes along at a time when that barrier that Secretariat was able to bust through is now stronger than ever. Who could have known that a third of a century would pass without another Triple Crown winner since Affirmed doggedly fought off the advances of Alydar. So the question becomes not only if I’ll Have Another can do it, but also what will winning the Triple Crown mean for the sport?


Since I and so many others have already written about his chances to win the 2012 Belmont Stakes, I would like to instead address the second part of that question.


With as many interesting backstories as there are in racing, for me it still always comes down to one thing … the horse. If I’ll Have Another is good enough to win Saturday it will be the greatest accomplishment in our sport in well, 34 years. Whether or not you believed in him in February, April, after the Preakness, or you still don’t believe, you better recognize that I’ll Have Another is deserving of every accolade he receives if he becomes the first Triple Crown winner in 34 years.


It has not been easy, (the talent of Bodemeister saw to that) and it will not be easy. Good horses like Dullahan and Union Rags, have been given time to refresh themselves since the Derby. Not to mention the distance of the Belmont can be cruel and one that most of these horses will never see again. Whenever there is a Triple Crown on the line, the Belmont truly becomes the Test of a Champion. Since Affirmed, eleven horses have been tested, and eleven horses have been turned away. If I’ll Have Another wins the Belmont, the Triple Crown will be well earned.


Will the magnificent feat save the sport of horse racing? I don’t really care. I am among the minority that believes it doesn’t need saving. Improvements yes, but saving no. I have loved watching the horses my entire life, and no matter what happens on Saturday, that will not change. Sure, a Triple Crown would bring a new spotlight to the sport. More fans will discover the excitement of racing, and many good things will be written about I’ll Have Another. Of course, many bad things will also be written about racing, but for me it is all about the horse.


I want to be transformed into a little boy again on Saturday. I want to see the tears flow. I need a hero. 


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Older Comments about What an I’ll Have Another win would mean to me...

This ARTICLE brings tears of joy to my eyes! I am sure on Saturday we all will be hugging and crying. Godspeed I'll Have Another.
I was working in an outpatient orthopedic clinic and wagered a hand surgeron that Affirmed would take each leg of the Triple. Funny, he has never bet with me again
I thought about playing hookie from work on Saturday, but if I called in sick, everyone would know where i was
I will be at Belmont Park since I live 20 minutes away. I am hoping to be a witness to history. I'll Have Another will prevail !!!
All I've ever wanted was to see a triple crown be won, four years ago I was at Belmont (20 years old at the time) and was heart broken when Big Brown failed to get the third jewel (although just seeing those horses was amazing enough). I bet on IHA in the derby to win and did again for the preakness... I made a promise to myself to travel the 7 hour drive to Belmont Park whenever there was a TC on the line.. So naturally I'll be there on Saturday :-)
June 9th is the day Secretariat blew the racing fans away. June 9th Spectacular Bid missed immortality(on my wedding day may I add) June 9th my daughter was born, and now I'm ready to add another note to June 9th!!!
The O'Neill detractors must think he is the only "dirty" trainer involved in this race. Puhleeeze! Very naive. These are the same people that probably think Lance Armstrong didn't cheat!
I want to feel the rush of what the victory would mean! The excitement, the pure joy of jumping up and down, of screaming, of tears, of being able to watch all of the replays and enjoy every single frame, over and over! I will enjoy reading all the thousands of articles that will be written about him and his connections. Mario, the humble young man will be more than able to carry the weight of the publicity, Mr. Reddam, who has pumped millions of dollars into the sport, and Doug O'Neill and his brother -- they all have "paid their dues". Something that would put the cherry on top would be for Little Red to run in and win the Breeders Cup Classic, setting the bar even higher for the next TC contender! Oh, it will be a glorious time!
You need a hero? I hardly think Doug O'Neill and J. Paul Reddam are worthy of that title. These people are bad for racing and do not belong in the company of those who have won the Triple Crown. It makes me sick to think that if this horse does win the Triple Crown that his dirtbag trainer will be returning home to CA to serve yet another suspension for yet another drug violation. Hero my ass. Come on Brian, you know better...
I think IHA winning, would be great for the sport. It would also be great for California, having a dirt horse win, when sythetic horse have fallen to the wayside time, and again, in their efforts to win the Ky Derby. I think it would be great for the sport. GO IHA!!!!!!
I have to repeat cniema5's words, Brian. Absolutely beautiful. The memories do make one cry, remembering the great TC horses, winners and their rivals, of the '70's, and I agree with you about the industry needing improvement, not "saving".
I just want to say I LOVE the TRIPLE CROWN NATION theme...It looks awesome-FANTASTIC Job guys!!
Secretariat in the Belmont is my oldest memory as well, I was 8 and my grandfather called me into the living room where the black and white console was. He said watch this..If this horse Secretariat wins this race, he will be a triple crown winner" Been hooked ever since.
well said, sir...I' m with you...
Absolutely beautiful article, Brian and I cannot wait to see what happens. The anticipation heats up.
I'll Have Another...hero! I've had many to sustain me since childhood, but we can never have too many.
I need a hero too, Brian. So will he do it? I hope so!
And for those of us that have not seen one, well, needless to say we're all anxiously awaiting a horse as great as the previous TC winners.
agree completely. Secretariat's Belmont still brings me to tears and Affirmed/Alydar sets my heart pounding, but it is time!!! I'LL HAVE ANOTHER!!!
Your last 3 sentences sum it up perfectly for me, Brian! I want to be that 14 year old girl who cried my eyes out watching Secretariat win the Belmont. It's a moment that carries me through and when I watch the race again on YouTube, I'm instantly back in that moment. I'll Have Another, please!

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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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