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Racing Dudes Divisional Rankings 12/15/21: With Year Nearing Conclusion, Almost Final
Knicks Go (Shamela Hanley/Breeders’ Cup/Eclipse Sportswire/CSM)

Racing Dudes Divisional Rankings 12/15/21: With Year Nearing Conclusion, Almost Final

Welcome to the 2021 Divisional Rankings! Each week, we rank the best thoroughbred horses in America based on their divisions. Let’s take a look at the rankings, including my last vote in the 2021 NTRA Top 10 Poll.

Overall Rankings

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 last Top 10 poll looked like:

  1. Knicks Go
  2. Essential Quality
  3. Medina Spirit
  4. Life Is Good
  5. Letruska
  6. Hot Rod Charlie
  7. Golden Pal
  8. Jackie’s Warrior
  9. Dr. Schivel
  10. Ginobili

Older Males

1. Knicks Go – He left no doubt with a dominating victory in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).

2. Maxfield – He goes out a winner after an impressive win in the Clark Stakes (G1).

3. 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.

4. Max Player – It was a nice year for him; however, he was a no-show in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).

5. 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

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.

Older Females

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 an upset 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.

3-Year-Old Males

1. Essential Quality – He was third in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), but his campaign may land him a deserving 3-Year-Old Male of the Year award.

2. Medina Spirit – RIP to a horse who deserved better and showed nothing but heart all year long, including one last time in his Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) runner-up 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 WarriorIt was a terrible way to end the year for this guy, but he is still a world-class horse who just didn’t show up on Breeders’ Cup day.

3-Year-Old Females

1. Malathaat – There is no doubt she is the 3-Year-Old Filly of the Year; however, she had every chance to win the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) 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 in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1).

4. Private Mission – She set a wicked pace in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1), 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 – He first try against older horses didn’t go well; however, she still had a nice 2021 season.


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 Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1), 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 Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) in impressive fashion.

4. Following Sea – He ran well again to finish second in the Cigar Mile (G1), which was a little too long for him.

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.

2-Year-Old Males

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. Smile Happy – He made it an impressive 2 for 2 with a nice win in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs.

4. Mo Donegal – His Remsen Stakes (G2) victory was enough to put him on the radar heading into 2022.

5. Slow Down Andy – He pulled off a nice upset in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G2).

Sleeper: Rockefeller He shipped to Belmont Park and took home the Nashua Stakes (G3) impressively.

2-Year-Old Females

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 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) but was no match for Echo Zulu.

4. Ain’t Easy – A setback caused her to miss a start in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1).

5. Nest – Her Demoiselle Stakes (G2) victory was a bit slow; however, she has the connections to make you think she can improve.

Sleeper: Dream Lith – After 2 poor stakes efforts, she rebounded with a victory in the Golden Rod Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs.

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