1. California Chrome – Surprise! The very likely horse of the year makes his final start of the 2016 racing season this weekend at Los Alamitos. The track is expecting record crowds as this will be his final race in California.
2. Flintshire – Proved he’s the best in this country on the turf by far, but just couldn’t catch the loose on the lead Highland Reel. Will be missed as he is now retiring.
3. Frosted – He’ll stay at number three even though he didn’t run well in the Classic. Might just be better as a one turn miler. Has also been retired.
4. Hoppertunity – He is what he is…not great, but always consistent which is more than you can say for many of the horses in the older division.
5. Melatonin – I’ll give him a pass as the task was tough for him coming into the Classic off a significant layoff. Ran poorly, but it was understandable.
Sleeper: Shaman Ghost – It’s time to give this horse a little credit as he ran well once again in the Grade 1 Clark Handicap. Pointing towards the Pegasus now.
1. Beholder – Ran an incredible and brave race in the Distaff to take down the undefeated Songbird by a nose. Retires as a sure fire Hall of Fame mare.
2. Tepin – Tough luck second in the Breeders’ Cup Mile as she was very wide the whole way. Returning next year which is exciting.
3. Stellar Wind – Terrible break as she simply didn’t come out of the gate at all in the Distaff. She didn’t get to show her true talents.
4. Miss Temple City – Incredible year capped off by a win at Del Mar in the Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes. Beat the boy on two occasions this year.
5. Forever Unbridled – Excellent third place effort in the Distaff as she just brings her game every single time.
Sleeper: I’m a Chatterbox – Was beaten easily in the Distaff, but is still a quality mare for sure. Just not good enough to beat the top ones in this group.
3 Year Old Males
1. Arrogate – Easily will win the Eclipse Award now with his incredible win in the Breeders’ Cup Classic over California Chrome. He’s a monster and could even get better in 2017. I’d love to have a few free bets on him next year!
2. Exaggerator – Will likely be remembered as a very lucky horse as he got the track he needed in three big races this year. His body of work shows three Grade 1 wins though.
3. Nyquist – Retired as a Kentucky Derby champion which is never a bad thing, but never won a race after winning the Derby. The Kentucky Derby carries enough wait to keep him third.
4. Connect – Up and coming horse who beat older horses in the Cigar Mile. Is ahead of Gun Runner based on his head to head victory in the Pennsylvania Derby.
5. Gun Runner – Finally got his big Grade 1 win in the Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs. Might be the second best three year old talent wise.
Sleeper: Drefong – Dangerous winner of the Breeders’ Cup Sprint might be in store for a big 2017.
3 Year Old Females
1. Songbird – Lost very little in defeat as she ran a phenomenal race in the Distaff losing by a nose to Beholder.
2. Catch a Glimpse – Actually didn’t run too poorly in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf, but just wasn’t ready for that kind of race.
3. Carina Mia – Weak group of fillies this year for her to be third. Flopped in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.
4. Cathryn Sophia – Sold for over a million dollars in the Keeneland sale, and her racing career is in jeopardy depending on what the new owner wants to do.
5. Time and Motion – Just didn’t run all that well in the Matriarch Stakes, but she’s still earned her spot in the top five. She’ll be ready to have a big 2017.
Sleeper: Verve’s Tale – Pretty impressive race to run down Lewis Bay in the Comely Stakes at Aqueduct
1. Drefong – Hard to argue with him being number one with his King’s Bishop/Breeders’ Cup Sprint double.
2. Lord Nelson – Sadly had to scratch out of the Breeders’ Cup Sprint and is now retired. Had a great 2016 campaign.
3. A. P. Indian – Maybe he just got a little tired toward the end of the year, but still had a fantastic 2016 season.
4. X Y Jet – He gets one mulligan as he was probably short for his first race back in six months.
5. Masochistic – Very solid effort in the Breeder’s Cup Sprint, but perhaps he was just a little short in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. This horse just needs more racing.
Sleeper: Mind Your Biscuits – Might have a funny name, but also might need to take him serious after a nice third place effort in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.
2 Year Old Males
1. Classic Empire – Very excited about this one prospects as he has the pedigree to go as long as needed. Gutty win in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile over Not This Time.
2. Not This Time – Very sad about the early retirement as he was a serious race horse. Nearly won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile even though he may have not been 100%.
3. Practical Joke – No match for the top two in the Juvenile, but kept to task and ran a really solid third. Won back to back Grade 1’s leading up to the Juvenile.
4. Mastery – This could be the big horse in California, and is said to be Baffert’s best horse in his latest crop. Also now a Grade 1 winner as he took home the Los Alamitos Futurity.
5. McCracken – Pulled off two wins in a row at Churchill Downs including an impressive performance in the Kentucky Jockey Club over a solid field.
Sleeper: Cool Arrow – Winner of the Springboard Mile deserves a mention, but there is no doubt he got a dream trip in that race. He might have a little bit of upside.
2 Year Old Females
1. Champagne Room – Upset bomb at 30-1 in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies makes her the top one in this group after losing her prep races.
2. Shane’s Girlfriend – Her resume doesn’t match Champagne Room, but her talent probably surpasses her. At this point she’s your Kentucky Oaks favorite.
3. Valadorna – Ran second off of just a maiden win in the Juvenile Fillies. Could be any kind going in to 2017.
4. Unique Bella – Wow she could be any kind…monster maiden effort at Del Mar
5. Elate – Another that could be any kind of filly as she dominated a maiden special weight on the east coast for Bill Mott.
Sleeper: Abel Tasman – Upset winner of the Starlet Stakes over American Gal at Los Alamitos. The time was a little bit on the slow side, but she is now a Grade 1 winner so she deserves credit.