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Racing Dudes Divisional Rankings 10/3/18: 2-Year-Olds Shine

Game Winner (Credit: Jim Safford)

Welcome to the 2018 Divisional Rankings! Each week for the rest of the year, we will rank the best thoroughbred horses in America based on their divisions. Let’s take a look at the latest rankings, including my NTRA Top 10 Poll:

Overall Rankings

Here are my overall rankings as seen in the latest NTRA Top 10 Poll. The poll ranks the top thoroughbred horses based on if Horse of the Year voting was conducted at this very moment. To me, Justify still has the top spot, but Accelerate continues to make things interesting. There are many changes to this week’s Top 10, with more likely on the way after this coming weekend.

1. Justify

2. Accelerate

3. Catalina Cruiser

4. Mind Your Biscuits 

5. Imperial Hint 

6. Catholic Boy 

7. Monomoy Girl 

8. Sistercharlie

9. McKinzie 

10. Diversify 

Older Males

1.  Accelerate – All he does is continue to win. The Grade 1 Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita was his latest triumph. The Classic is up next.

2. Catalina Cruiser – There may be no stopping this horse now after he once again dominated his rivals in the Grade 2 Pat O’Brien Stakes. He is quickly becoming the most impressive horse in the country.

3. Mind Your Biscuits – He is now officially in the two-turn division, and not the sprint, after his win in the Grade 3 Lukas Classic at Churchill Downs. That win should springboard him to a try in the Classic.

4. Diversify – He struggled in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup, but you still can’t forget his big wins earlier this year, which keeps him in the rankings.

5. Yoshida – His dirt debut was a successful one as he powered home to win the Grade 1 Woodward Stakes. It looks as though he will now be pointed towards the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Sleeper: West Coast – The Awesome Again was a nice return race for him off of a long layoff and could set him up well for a run in the Classic.

Older Females

1. Abel Tasman – The Grade 1 Zenyatta Stakes was a total non-effort for a horse that is still a clear standout in this division. This puts her try at the Breeders’ Cup Distaff in major jeopardy.

2. Elate – An injury has her Breeders’ Cup status up in the air, which could leave this division wide-open if the top two horses fail to show up.

3. Unique Bella – Her injury and retirement means that she will continue to fall down the rankings. Hats off to a solid career.

4. Sistercharlie – She has now won three Grade 1 turf races this year and seems to be getting better with every race.

5. Blue Prize – She is never going to blow you away with her talents, but she just keeps on winning races. After her Grade 3 Locust Grove Stakes win, she is now pointing towards the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, which will be held at Churchill Downs, her favorite track.

Sleeper: Vale Dori – It took a while, with several poor efforts leading up to her first win of year, but she finally got back to form with a nice win in the Grade 1 Zenyatta Stakes. She’s finally back in the game.

3-Year-Old Males

1. Justify – The Triple Crown winner has this division on complete lockdown and should be the 2018 Horse of the Year as well, even though a recent hoof injury caused his premature retirement.

2. Catholic Boy – Make it three Grade 1 wins in a row for this guy, who is quickly becoming a beast. His transfer from turf to dirt to win the Travers Stakes was simply amazing.

3. Good Magic – The Grade 1 Haskell Invitational winner has been retired and will stand at Hill ‘n Dale Farms after a solid two-year career.

4. McKinzie – Baffert’s “other” big horse is back and might be better than ever after a solid victory in the Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby. He has earned his shot at the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

5. Audible – After solid victories in the Grade 2 Holy Bull Stakes and the Grade 1 Florida Derby, he backed things up with a third-place finish in the Kentucky Derby. However, he was away from the track until mid-September, and his connections have said that the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup is his main target, so expect him to return near the end of 2018.

Sleeper: Axelrod – His Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby runner-up finish shows that he can hang with the big horses in the division. He is rising quickly.

3-Year-Old Females

1. Monomoy Girl – Her disqualification in the Grade 1 Cotillion Stakes was a tough way to lose her first race of the season. Still, she leads this division by a wide margin.

2. Dream Tree – She has always been the second-best horse in this division, but an injury forced her to miss all of the important spring and summer races. She is back now, though, and could have a big say in things the rest of the year after her dominating Grade 1 Prioress Stakes win.

3. Midnight Bisou – Even though she didn’t actually finish in front, she was placed first in the Cotillion after Monomoy Girl’s disqualification, which was a major win for her. The Breeders’ Cup Distaff is likely next.

4. Wonder Gadot – There is no disgrace in finishing third to Monomoy Girl and Midnight Bisou, but she was not competitive with those two in the Cotillion.

5. Seperationofpowers – The Cotillion distance was a bit too long for her, but she will be tough when cutting back to one-turn races.

Sleeper: Eskimo Kisses – She picked up her first Grade 1 victory in the Alabama Stakes at Saratoga and has been a consistent filly all year long.

Sprinters

1. Imperial Hint – His Grade 1 Vosburgh Stakes effort was flawless and he picked up another big win that served as a perfect prep for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

2. X Y Jet – The 6-year-old gelding just keeps winning and will always be the horse that they have to catch up front. His Grade 3 Smile Sprint Stakes victory at Gulfstream Park was an easy return as he begins to prepare for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

3. Roy H – The Bing Crosby was his first start since March and will likely be a solid building block for him, as he finished second. He will progress off of that race.

4. Ransom the Moon – This horse loves running in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Stakes. He won the race for the second straight year, but now he needs to pick up a few wins in-between to move up the rankings.

5. Whitmore – It was great to see him finally get a Grade 1 win in the Forego Stakes. If not for a couple of narrow losses, he could be ranked number one in this division.

Sleeper: City of Light – I’ve moved him to this division, but there are talks that he could stretch out again. Either way, don’t hold the Forego against him because of an awful trip.

2-Year-Old Males

1. Game Winner – This is trainer Bob Baffert’s latest star after impressive back-to-back Grade 1 victories. The latest came around two turns in the American Pharoah Stakes at Santa Anita.

2. Instagrand – Based on talent, he might be the best horse in the division, but his lack of racing will see him fall down the rankings.

3. Mind Control – This horse now has two victories in a row after outlasting his rivals to take home the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga.

4. Mucho – He may have lost the Hopeful as the favorite, but he still finished a solid second. Two-turn races should be where he excels.

5. Call Paul – His victory in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special Stakes made him 2-for-2 in his young career.

Sleeper: Cairo Cat – It was a big win for him in the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes, which was the first Kentucky Derby prep race of the season. He looked solid around two turns.

2-Year-Old Females

1. Bellafina – Her romp in the Grade 1 Chandelier Stakes was the latest example of her being the best horse in this division by a wide margin.

2. Newspaperofrecord – WOW! Her win in the Grade 2 Miss Grillo Stakes was one of the best turf performances by a juvenile that you will ever see.

3. Serengeti Empress – Win by 20 lengths in the Grade 2 Pocahontas Stakes and fall all the way to third? That’s how impressive the top two horses were in their last starts.

4. Sippican Harbor – She closed from the clouds to win the Grade 1 Spinaway Stakes at Saratoga, giving her two nice victories is a row.

5. Restless Rider – She had a tough trip in the Spinaway but still finished a decent second. She has shown a lot of class in her two starts. 

Sleeper: Vibrance – Her Chandelier effort was a solid showing, which makes her interesting going forward because she improved when racing around two turns.

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