Zipse: These were my 5 favorite races of 2022

Zipse: These were my 5 favorite races of 2022
Photo: Candice Chavez / Eclipse Sportswire

With a new year comes fresh optimism. Anything can happen in 2023, and that includes on the track. But before we jump into all that is ahead of us, let’s take one final look at the best of 2022. Without further ado, these are my five favorite races of the past year.

Kentucky Oaks (G1, May 6) - Some might wonder why I picked the female version of the Kentucky Derby over actual the run for the roses. That’s fair, but I thought the Oaks was a truer race and produced a more desirable outcome. Both races included big fields and strong paces, but 20 horses in the Derby is too much, and that pace was beyond ridiculous.

The Oaks, on the other hand, was an excellent 14-horse field that included most of the best fillies in the land. Among the entrants were a former champion in Echo Zulu, a soon-to-be champion in Nest, and the unbeaten and impressive Kathleen O. Then you had Secret Oath.

A three-time stakes winner last year, there was plenty to like about Secret Oath. A daughter of the ill-fated champion Arrogate, she is trained by D. Wayne Lukas, who was 86 at the time. It was a pleasure to see both of those stories unfold in the stretch run of the Kentucky Oaks.

She danced every dance and although it turned out to be her final win of the season, it’s hard to find fault in her accomplishments in 2022. Looking back, it is clear that Nest became the better filly the second half of the season, but Secret Oath was a deserving winner who had her day in the Oaks.


The Salvator Mile (G3, June 18) - It is far and away the least prestigious race on this list, but I found it to be the best stretch battle of the year. Considering the combatants, it should have come as no surprise that this Grade 3 race turned out to be a classic.

As one of the top older horses in the nation, Hot Rod Charlie was a hot favorite, but hooking Mind Control at one mile has proven to be a difficult task for anyone.

If you appreciate a horse who is good early in his career but still races through the age of 6, Mind Control is for you.

If you like a horse who continues to dig to the wire under the most intense pressure, Mind Control is your kind of horse.

If you love a race where the two best horses leave the rest behind and ding-dong it all the way to the wire, the Salvator Mile was a race to remember.


The Pacific Classic (G1, Sept. 3) - Say what you will about Flightline being on the verge of winning the Horse of the Year title after running only three times in 2022, but when he ran it was magical.

I thought both the Met Mile (G1) and the Breeders’ Cup Classic were sensational efforts. But for me, the Pacific Classic was above and beyond.

Never having gone beyond a flat mile before, there was still that nagging question whether the supremely talented son of Tapit could be as special at the classic distance as he was running one turn. He answered that question with one of the most dominant performances in modern racing.

Country Grammer is no slouch, but second best in this million-dollar race found him 19 1/4 lengths behind the running machine that was Flightline.


The Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (Nov. 5) - No race in 2022 was a better feel-good story than the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. It was also a whale of a race.

By now, we are all familiar now with the heartwarming story of the 4-year-old son of Curlin, Cody’s Wish, and his namesake and biggest fan, Cody Dorman.

With the young man, who has beaten the odds to be around this long, in attendance, the horse he instantly fell in love with a few years earlier turned the showcase of the Breeders’ Cup into his stage to fulfill a story destined for Hollywood.

Cody’s Wish would simply not be denied in winning his fourth straight race, but the classy 3-year-old Cyberknife did not make it easy.

Perhaps it was in the stars for Cody to win.


The Breeders’ Cup Distaff (Nov. 5) - In my choice as the race of the year, youth would not have its day in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff.

The best two 3-year-old fillies in the land, Nest and Secret Oath, each looked primed for success heading into the stretch drive. But it was the older mares who would prove best down the stretch at Keeneland.

The Argentinian mare Blue Stripe ran the race of her life on the outside and looked like a winner in deep stretch. Clairiere, one of America’s best, shot up the rail and had every chance in the final sixteenth of a mile. Neither would get their nose down on the wire, however.

Who else but Malathaat would be the one to snatch victory with a desperate late rush? A champion mare who had done it so many times in her excellent career, the Todd Pletcher-trained daughter of Curlin refused to lose in a three-way battle to the wire that will not be soon forgotten.

In her final career race, what could be better than to remember Malathaat in this way?


I wish you all health, happiness and prosperity in 2023. Happy New Year!

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, American Pharoah and Justify. Before coming to HRN, 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. His racing partnership venture, Derby Day Racing, invites more fans to experience the thrill of racehorse ownership.

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, created the popular racing webcast HorseCenter, 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 hosting HorseCenter. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves on the Board 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 and is a Vox Populi committee member. He is a voter for racing's Hall of Fame, as well as a weekly NTRA poll voter. 

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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