Zipse: My Derby horse, Anneau d'Or, will show why in Risen Star

February 10, 2020 10:13am

Currently the top horse on my 2020 Kentucky Derby list, Anneau d'Or has plenty of questions still to answer. I expect many of those concerns to be addressed, however, in just a matter of days as he rises to the ranks of a top contender.

The occasion for the son of Medaglia d'Oro will come Saturday at Fair Grounds in the second division of the 1 1/8-mile Risen Star Stakes (G2).
Both $400,000 flights attracted large fields going for the lion's share of 85 qualifying points toward the May 2 Kentucky Derby. While 23 horses are entered in all, my gaze at the big picture will be transfixed on Anneau d'Or.

Having closed Sunday night as the 28-1 individual ninth choice in Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 2, Anneau d'Or clearly is respected for his accomplishments as a juvenile, but not quite embraced as one of the favorites for America's most prestigious horse race.
Fair enough. So let's take a look at why I like him better than most.

The first question all good 2-year-olds need to answer as they transition to 3, and the Kentucky Derby trail, is whether they can carry over their good form against younger horses into similar success facing physically maturing sophomores. Often the best stakes horses at 2 are passed by those getting good closer to the spring classics. I don't expect
Anneau d’Or to fall into that trap for a few reasons. 

He was more of a late developer among top juveniles, rather than a horse who showed us his very best at 2. Keep in mind that he did not debut until the fall, and after an easy first out victory over the Golden Gate Fields turf, he was thrust into the big time. Proving his class, he ran to a photo finish in two big races, the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and the Los Alamitos Futurity (G2), and improved his speed figures with each start.

Only two months removed from his last outing, it would be unlikely for him to regress now, especially when you consider four strong works at Golden Gate. Trained by
Blaine Wright, who got a taste of the Triple Crown trail last year with Anothertwistafate, Anneau d'Or should be ready to pick up right where he left off.

When considering whether he will continue to improve at 3, his pedigree also gives us good indication that the best is yet to come. Both his sire, Medaglia d'Oro, and his broodmare sire, Tapit, have top offspring who only get better with experience.

Perhaps being able to effectively get the classic distances is another question mark on the resume of Anneau d'Or, but remember he has run exclusively at two turns in his brief career. His connections also show strong belief in his distance ability with their willingness to begin the season with a nine-furlong prep.

His breeding is not only steep in class, but also proven in producing horses who can do far more than sprint. That, plus those last three workouts at six, seven and six furlongs respectively over the consistent synthetic surface at Golden Gate lead me to believe that Wright sees his charge as one that can run all day.

Next, it is fair to wonder whether Anneau d'Or can actually get the job done against top competition. After all, his record in stakes racing currently stands at 0-for-2. But 
I see far more positives in his 2-year-old record than negatives.

Anneau d'Or flashed the obvious talent which led him to be an expensive 2-year-old in training purchase when he ran off from a field of maidens on the Golden Gate turf in his career debut. Then, 
I cannot recall a horse with as little experience running a better race in the history of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

Exiting that one, you might suspect a bit of a bounce. Instead, Anneau d'Or came right back to run another bang-up race, finishing second to the highly regarded Thousand Words over an off track at Los Alamitos.

His detractors will point to the fact that he failed to win both races when Anneau d'Or looked like he had every shot in mid-stretch. I instead see a horse who has improved with each start and ran big against top competition very early in his career.

If there is any real problem getting by horses, the addition of both blinkers and rider Joel Rosario for the Risen Star should help provide a stronger finish.

In short, I believe Anneau d'Or is a horse with a big future. He was good at 2, running increasingly well at a trio of tracks, and he looks set up to be better at 3.

The proof can begin to show itself Saturday in New Orleans, where I look for Anneau d'Or to earn his first stakes victory in the second division of the Risen Star. If I'm right about him, this will be the first step in what could be a march all the way to the Kentucky Derby winner's circle.

 

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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, American Pharoah and Justify. 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. His new 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 show, 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 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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