Each week for the rest of the year, we will rank the best thoroughbred horses in America based on their divisions. Belmont Park and Santa Anita stole the show last week, but did the racing there impact the things enough to change the rankings from last week? Let’s see:
1. Gun Runner – The undisputed number-one horse in the country added to his resume in a massive way with a romp in the Grade 1 Woodward. He’ll now train up to the Breeders’ Cup Classic, where he’ll likely be the favorite.
2. Collected – He’s been fantastic this year and did his best running ever in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic. He seems to love Del Mar and will have a big shot in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
3. Arrogate – In what can only be described as unbelievable, he’s now justifiably third. He has only two wins this year, and with the Breeders’ Cup Classic being at Del Mar, he has a tall task ahead of him. What a crazy game…
4. Mor Spirit – His “WOW” performance in the Grade 1 Met Mile officially confirmed that he’s arrived in a major way. His progression from 3 to 4 has been impressive, just like Gun Runner. It looks like he is pointing towards the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.
5. World Approval – He’s looked great in back-to-back Grade 1 wins – the Fourstardave and the Woodbine Mile – in blowout fashion. He earned this spot and has a big chance to move up the list if he can win the Breeders’ Cup Mile next.
Sleeper: Keen Ice – He’s training well leading up to a try in the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park this weekend.
1. Stellar Wind – She made it three Grade 1s in a row with another narrow win over Vale Dori in the Grade 1 Clement L. Hirsch. At this point, she has a nice lead in the division, but one race could change it all.
2. Lady Eli – Another fantastic performance when she made her final start at Saratoga a winning one in the Grade 2 Ballston Spa. Her consistent form has been amazing to watch.
3. Forever Unbridled – She defeated the champion Songbird in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign, which was her second big win of the year. She’s in solid form heading into the Breeders’ Cup and should have a decent shot at winning the Distaff.
4. Songbird – Sadly, she has been retired. The back-to-back Eclipse Award winner will not make it three years in a row. Thanks for the memories, Songbird!
5. Vale Dori – Even though she lost again to Stellar Wind, I kept her on here. She battled all the way down to the wire before being narrowly defeated. She’s ranked behind four horses who are Hall of Fame-caliber.
Sleeper: Money’soncharlotte – She finished second in the Grade 1 Beldame but was really no match for the winner. Still, she deserves recognition in a top-heavy division.
1. West Coast – A fantastic performance once again in the Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby now has him in the top spot. He’s earned it with four straight wins, becoming the most consistent horse in the division.
2. Oscar Performance – He put forth a solid performance against older horses in the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Classic, but it wasn’t quite enough to keep him at number one. He’ll need to win the Breeders’ Cup Turf to have a shot at winning the Eclipse Award now.
3. Irap – He put forth a really solid effort in the Pennsylvania Derby to finish second behind West Coast. Unfortunately, he was injured after the race, which will probably end his career. It’s really too bad, as he was getting better and better with every race.
4. Practical Joke – This is the most talented 3-year-old in the crop and is still undefeated when going one turn after his win in the Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens.
5. Always Dreaming – The Kentucky Derby winner is back on the list! Basically it’s because there’s nobody else to rank, and the Derby carries a lot of weight.
Sleeper: Pavel – He won the Grade 3 Smarty Jones like a horse who has a BIG future ahead of him. He’ll take on older horses for the first time this weekend at Belmont Park.
1. Abel Tasman – Unfortunately, she suffered her first defeat in a while in the Grade 1 Cotillion, but she finished second and still has a firm hold on the division’s number-one spot.
2. Elate – She’s closing the gap on Abel Tasman, but there’s still work to do. This filly has finally turned into the star we all thought she would be, and now has back-to-back Grade 1 wins on her resume after taking the Beldame over older females.
3. Lady Aurelia – She just narrowly lost in a race overseas, so I don’t think that she needs to be moved down. Hopefully, she rebounds and is ready to run a big one when the Breeders’ Cup rolls around.
4. Unique Bella – She’s said to be training like a freak leading up to her return to the races this weekend. If all goes well, she’ll be pointed towards the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.
5. It Tiz Well – Consistently getting better and better with each race, she put it all together to take home the Cotillion. She could be poised to move up the rankings even further, depending on what happens to some of the horses ranked ahead of her.
Sleeper: Paradise Woods – She is BACK in a big way! The field she beat in the Grade 1 Zenyatta was awful, but she looked like her old self again in that race. She’s a dangerous horse going forward.
1. Drefong – He earned his redemption at Saratoga with a big win in the Grade 1 Forego. He also beat his rival, Mind Your Biscuits, for the third time, which is very important.
2. Mind Your Biscuits – He simply didn’t fire in the Forego and finished a baffling sixth. His camp must regroup now, as there’s still time to turn the tables on Drefong, but he’ll have to run much better.
3. Imperial Hint – Another “WOW” performance for this horse as he nearly set the course record at Parx while under wraps. It’s time to run this horse against the big boys and see what happens.
4. Sharp Azteca – He displayed a super sharp effort to win the Grade 2 Kelso Handicap over the weekend. He looked like he saved plenty of juice for the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, where he’ll be heavily backed.
5. Takaful – A star at 6 furlongs, he took him the Grade 1 Vosburgh at Belmont Park in a very strong time. He’s now a player in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.
Sleeper: Ransom the Moon – He’s had a solid year and also has a win over the Del Mar surface, which is important.
1. Bolt d’Oro – EASILY the number one horse in this division now with a runaway win in the Grade 1 FrontRunner, he’ll be a very short price in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
2. Copper Bullet – The Grade 2 Saratoga Special winner has shown more talent than any other colt this year. However, he’s sidelined now with a minor injury. He’ll likely miss the Breeders’ Cup and fall down the rankings.
3. Dak Attack – He’s a perfect two-for-two after beating Sporting Chance on debut, then defeating Ten City, who beat Copper Bullet at one point this year. He’s now injured, though, and will miss the Breeders’ Cup.
4. Sporting Chance – He won the Grade 1 Hopeful after nearly bolting at the wire! However, he’s now injured with a minor bone chip and will miss the remainder of the year.
5. Free Drop Billy – Two solid second-place efforts at Saratoga in the Grade 3 Sanford and the Hopeful give hope that he should stretch out well once the races get longer.
Sleeper: Solomini – He showed some talent when finishing second in the FrontRunner but just ran into a buzzsaw in Bolt d’Oro.
1. Moonshine Memories – She stamped herself as the leader of this division and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies favorite with a big win in the Grade 1 Chandelier.
2. Dream It Is – She’s sidelined at the moment with an ankle injury, but this filly showed brilliance when dominating the Grade 3 Schuylerville at Saratoga.
3. Amy’s Challenge – She beat the boys at Canterbury and should be ready to take on tougher competition now. That will give us a better indication of her talent level.
4. Significant Form – A fantastic performance in the Grade 3 Miss Grillo has her poised for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.
5. Patrona Margarita – She earned a solid victory in the Grade 2 Pocahontas in wire-to-wire fashion and looks as good as anyone right now in a wide-open division.
Sleeper: Kelly’s Humor – She finished second in the Pocahontas without the race setting up in her favor. She’s been consistent so far in her young career.