Zipse: History points to these colts in 3-year-old Eclipse race

July 10, 2019 04:20pm

In 2019, three different horses won legs of the Triple Crown, and in a way, we have a fourth in the picture considering Maximum Security's disqualification in the Kentucky Derby. Clearly this is a season without a definitive leader of America's glamour division.

Recent history tells us, however, that the Eclipse Award race for champion 3-year-old male will come down to the second half of the season, and will likely be won by a horse who didn't win any of the spring classics. 

In the last three seasons in which the
Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont were won by a different horse, the champion came from well back in the pack to sweep by and earn a championship in the second half of the season.

In 2013, it was Will Take Charge who rode victories in the Travers, Pennsylvania Derby and Clark Handicap against older rivals, as well as a strong second in the Breeders' Cup Classic, to become a champion.

Three years later, it was Arrogate who powerfully stormed to an Eclipse Award with memorable wins in the Travers and Breeders' Cup Classic.

Then in 2017, it was another Bob Baffert trainee who made the necessary push to pass by the horses who had made the all the noise during the Triple Crown season. West Coast did it by building upon his good form to close the first half of the season, by winning the Los Alamitos Derby, Travers, and Pennsylvania Derby on his way to a championship.

The trend is established. The question then becomes: Who is going to be the horse to step up in 2019? Code of Honor, Mr. Money and Owendale are three candidates I like to make the push.

Code of Honor
, trained by Shug McGaughey will have the first opportunity to get his name on voters' minds when he returns from a two-month break to head the field in Saturday's Dwyer Stakes (G3), as part of Belmont Park's big Stars & Stripes Racing Festival card.

Code of Honor closer fits to the path taken by Will Take Charge, as he was on the Kentucky Derby trail all the way along in 2019. After a disappointment in the Mucho Macho Man Stakes, the son of Noble Mission rebounded with a solid win in the Fountain of Youth (G2). A third behind Maximum Security in a paceless Florida Derby sent him to Louisville as one of many to watch.

A strong move up the rail made him a real threat as the Kentucky Derby field turned for home, but he could never quite recover when Maximum Security came back into him, making things very tight on the rail. Still, he ran on to hit the wire third and, of course, was placed second after the disqualification.

Taken off the Triple Crown trail after that, Code of Honor has now filled out his frame and has been working well at the familiar surroundings of Belmont Park. A win in the Dwyer announces him as a real horse to watch in the second half.

Mr. Money
, meanwhile, skipped all three legs of the Triple Crown, but enters the season's second half on a real roll. The Bret Calhoun-trained son of Goldencents still needs to prove it away from Churchill Downs, and at a distance longer than 8 1/2 furlongs, but his last two point him out as a young horse of real quality.

In a season devoid of a standout, his romping wins in the Pat Day Mile (G3) and Matt Winn Stakes (G3) could well be just the start of a march that culminates with an Eclipse Award. Stabled at Churchill Downs, Mr. Money will either make the July 13 Indiana Derby (G3) or the July 20 Haskell Invitational (G1) one week later his next start. If his team decides to go to New Jersey, he will likely get his shot at Maximum Security in the Haskell.

There's also 
Owendale. Trained by one of the true up-and-comers in the sport, the son of Into Mischief is a grand looking individual. While only showing flashes here and there early in his career for trainer Brad Cox, he finally put things together in the season's final Kentucky Derby prep.

The eye-catching rally to victory in Keeneland's Lexington Stakes (G3) came too late for him to enter the Derby fray, but he did hop on the Triple Crown trail with a run in the middle leg. His third-place result in the Preakness tells only a portion of the story. He rallied strongly down the middle of the track, on a surface which looked to be favoring the inside, just missing the place while finishing 1 1/4 lengths behind the winner, War of Will.

Owendale kept his forward momentum going with a recent victory in the Ohio Derby and, like Will Take Charge, Arrogate, and West Coast before him, he now will have the Travers clearly on his sights.
Perhaps there he will find Code of Honor and Mr. Money, or other familiar Triple Crown faces like Tacitus, War of Will and Maximum Security.

Any of them have a shot at the title this season in what promises to be an interesting race.


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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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