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Welcome to the 2021 Divisional Rankings! Each week, we rank the best thoroughbred horses in America based on their divisions and with an eye on the 2021 Breeders’ Cup. Let’s take a look at the rankings, including my latest vote in the NTRA Top 10 Poll.
Here are my overall rankings as seen in the latest NTRA Top 10 Poll this week. The poll ranks the top thoroughbred horses based on if Horse of the Year voting was conducted at this very moment. Here’s what my latest Top 10 poll looked like:
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1. Knicks Go – He left no doubt with a dominating victory in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).
2. Ginobili – Perhaps this one is a stretch, but he ran very well in the second half of the season and was a solid second in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1), while all the other older males struggled that weekend.
3. Max Player – It was a nice year for him; however, he was a no-show in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).
4. Art Collector – He was just a bit out-classed in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) but still had a nice year for new trainer Bill Mott
5. Maxfield – We will see him next in the Clark Stakes (G1) at Churchill Downs.
Sleeper: Domestic Spending – A lack of pace really hurt him in his recent loss at Arlington Park in the Mister D. Stakes (G1) and he was an unfortunate late scratch from the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1), but we’ll see this gelding again next year.
1. Letruska – The hot pace in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) cooked her; however, she still had an amazing year. This is your Older Female Champion.
2. Ce Ce – Quietly, she had a great year, topping it off with a win in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1).
3. Monomoy Girl – She retired after suffering a minor injury during training.
4. Gamine – The big horse in the female sprint division suffered her first loss of the year at the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1).
5. Shedaresthedevil – She was solid all year long but was cooked by a hot pace at Del Mar, losing all chance at a Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) victory. Purchased for $5 million at Keeneland shortly thereafter, she’ll reportedly return to Brad Cox for a 2022 campaign.
Sleeper: Dunbar Road – Wow…how did she lose the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1)?! She looked like a winner when they crossed the wire but lost the photo.
2021 Breeders’ Cup
1. Essential Quality – He was third in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), but his campaign will likely land him a deserving 3-Year-Old Male of the Year award.
2. Medina Spirit – Love him or hate him, this horse showed nothing but heart all year long and did it one last time in a runner-up Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) effort.
3. Life Is Good – His accomplishments are fewer than the top two horses, but from a talent standpoint, this is the best 3-year-old in the country.
4. Hot Rod Charlie – Every time he showed up this year, he brought his best effort. This horse should continue to be a factor in 2022.
5. Golden Pal – His breath-taking Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) win earned him a position on the list.
Sleeper: Jackie’s Warrior – It was a terrible way to end the year for this guy, but he is still a world-class horse who in my eyes just didn’t show up on Breeders’ Cup day.
1. Malathaat – There is no doubt she is the 3-Year-Old Filly of the Year; however, she had every chance to win the Distaff and couldn’t get it done.
2. Clairiere – She was an honest horse all season long but just couldn’t rack up enough victories to be #1 on this list.
3. Bella Sofia – Her year was solid; however, she flopped at the Breeders’ Cup.
4. Private Mission – She set a wicked pace in the Distaff, which cost her all chance of winning, but she still had a nice second half of the year.
5. Search Results – Her Test Stakes (G1) performance was just average and she’s now off for the rest of the year.
Sleeper: Army Wife – This filly has run consistently well all season long, showing up with strong efforts in many big stakes events.
1. Jackie’s Warrior – A complete dud in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) might cost him an Eclipse award, but we are leaving him at #1 for now.
2. Dr. Schivel – He lost a heartbreaker in the Sprint, but wow, he put together quite the year after coming back from injury.
3. Aloha West – It will be interesting to see what the voters do with this horse. His resume is not flashy; however, he won the championship race of the year in impressive fashion.
4. Following Sea – He might have been best in the Sprint but was cut off while rallying on the inside. This is one you better pay attention to in 2022.
5. Yaupon – Sadly, he was hurt in a workout at Santa Anita and retired.
Sleeper: Flagstaff – He skipped the Breeders’ Cup and is now off to a new career.
2022 Kentucky Derby
1. Corniche – He left no doubt with a dominating win in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1).
2. Jack Christopher – Sadly, he had to scratch out of the Juvenile, so we really don’t know how good he is just yet.
3. Rockefeller – He shipped to Belmont Park and took home the Nashua Stakes (G3) impressively.
4. Gunite – He didn’t run well in the Champagne Stakes (G1), but he’s still a Grade 1 winner.
5. Pappacap – A solid runner-up finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) bodes well for his future.
Sleeper: Major General – We’ll see where he shows up next after taking home the Iroquois Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs in September.
1. Echo Zulu – This is the best horse in this division by a mile after a runaway victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1).
2. Pizza Bianca – A masterful ride and closing kick earned her an impressive win in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1).
3. Juju’s Map – She was ok in the Juvenile Fillies but was no match for Echo Zulu.
4. Ain’t Easy – A setback caused her to miss a start in the Juvenile Fillies.
5. Twilight Gleaming – This horse took the lead and never looked back in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint (G1).
Sleeper: Hidden Connection – She will rebound from a non-effort in the Juvenile Fillies.
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