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 after all the weekend action at Aqueduct.
1. Gun Runner – He left no doubt when winning the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic by 2 1/4 lengths over Collected. He’ll be the 2017 Horse of the Year by a landslide.
2. Collected – He put up a fantastic effort in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, falling just short to Gun Runner. At the top of the stretch, he made a bold move but just couldn’t make up ground on the champ.
3. World Approval – He should be the Turf Horse of the Year after three straight Grade 1 victories, including the Breeders’ Cup Mile over a terrific field. Since cutting back in distance, he has been fantastic.
4. Arrogate – He never recovered after giving us the thrill of a lifetime in Dubai. It was more of the same for him in the Classic: unable to regain his form after that awe-inspiring performance in the World Cup.
5. Sharp Azteca – He won his first Grade 1 race in the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct and looks to be pointed towards the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup after his impressive win.
Sleeper: Seeking the Soul – He could be a rising star in the division heading into 2018 after a solid victory in the Grade 1 Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs.
1. Forever Unbridled – Only raced three times, she made them all count. She easily defeated her rivals in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff to lock up the award for top older female.
2. Stellar Wind – For the third straight year, she was defeated at the Breeders’ Cup despite having a great campaign. She didn’t bring her normal effort to the race and has now retired.
3. Lady Eli – It was an extremely disappointing result for her in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, but she had a legitimate excuse. After a really rough trip, she emerged with a huge gash on her leg after the race. For now, she has been pulled out of any breeding stock sale.
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 – After battling head-to-head with Stellar Wind all year long, she’ll be the top California mare heading into 2018.
Sleeper: Blue Prize – Her impressive Thanksgiving Day victory in the Grade 2 Falls City Handicap earns her some recognition within the rankings.
1. West Coast – He pretty much had this division on lockdown going into the Breeders’ Cup but solidified it with a nice third-place finish in the Classic. He will be a top older male next year.
2. Battle of Midway – What a wild up-and-down season for him! He took home the Dirt Mile over an extremely talented Sharp Azteca and could have developed into a great older horse as well, but his connections have chosen to retire him.
3. Oscar Performance – He had some trouble when facing the older horses this year, but he still deserves credit for a solid 2017 season. His major turf wins were impressive.
4. Irap – This is really sad. Unfortunately, he was injured in the Pennsylvania Derby and has passed away due to laminitis. RIP, Irap.
5. Practical Joke – He rounded out his season, and career, in the Cigar Mile, where he finished third.
Sleeper: Mo Town – He’s become a monster on the turf after shipping west to take home the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby at Del Mar. It’s too bad that he didn’t change surfaces much earlier in the year.
1. Abel Tasman – She proved to be the best in this division with a great second-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. She was closing late on Forever Unbridled but couldn’t quite get there in time.
2. Elate – She failed to fire her best effort in the Distaff, but she still had a great second half of the year. She deserves to be ranked highly and is set up for a big 2018.
3. Paradise Woods – She set the pace in the Distaff before fading to third. Her connections will have some time now to try to figure out what they need to do to get the most out of her. Her talent level is very high.
4. It Tiz Well – Consistently getting better and better with each race, she put it all together to take home the Grade 1 Cotillion.
5. Unique Bella – Wow… she put up an effort in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint that was too bad to believe, and with no explanation.
Sleeper: Lady Aurelia – She may have been a little tired at the end of a long campaign in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. Still, this is one that you shouldn’t forget about anytime soon.
1. Roy H – He earned top honors in this division with a dramatic win in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint over Imperial Hint. This horse turned into a beast during the second half of the year.
2. Drefong – A total no-show in the Sprint, he broke poorly out of the gate and didn’t get to where he likes to be, which is on the lead. It was a frustrating Breeders’ Cup for trainer Bob Baffert.
3. Imperial Hint – He proved his worth on the big stage as he just barely missed in the Sprint to Roy H. Hopefully, the plan will be to target bigger races from now on with this talented runner.
4. Mind Your Biscuits – He finished second in the Cigar Mile but never really challenged Sharp Azteca. They might stretch him out in distance to the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup next.
5. Ransom the Moon – He had a very solid year, but he might be just a little bit behind the others talent-wise.
Sleeper: Takaful – I kept him here because I think he will be sneaky next year. If he can develop mentally, he could become dangerous.
1. Bolt d’Oro – Some may disagree with me keeping him number one, but his trip in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile was a total joke, considering that he still performed very well.
2. Good Magic – He put in a “WOW” type of performance, dominating the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile as a maiden! He will just get better with longer distances, as well. The sky could be the limit with this one…
3. Solomini – Keep a close eye on him, as he seems to be developing rapidly for the ever-dangerous Baffert. He was very solid in the Juvenile.
4. Catholic Boy – He impressively won the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes on dirt, and also won the Grade 3 With Anticipation on the turf. He’s one to watch as we roll into 2018.
5. 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’s out until 2018.
Sleeper: 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 is out until 2018.
1. Rushing Fall – She finishes the year a perfect three-for-three after the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf and looks like she could turn into an absolute beast. Trainer Chad Brown has yet another female turf star on his hands.
2. Caledonia Road – She was the upset winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at odds of 17-1. With two wins and a second in three starts, she has a big shot to win 2 Year Old Filly of the Year.
3. Moonshine Memories – She completely flopped in the Juvenile Fillies but still had a nice year. She’ll likely rebound off of that effort.
4. Wonder Gadot – She picked up a big-time win in the Grade 2 Demoiselle Stakes, which catapults her into the conversation in a wide-open division.
5. Road to Victory – She doesn’t have the resume yet, but she might be the leading candidate for the Kentucky Oaks heading into 2018. She won the Grade 2 Golden Rod in a time that was over a second faster than the male version of the race.
Sleeper: Fly So High – After absolutely romping in a maiden special weight at Aqueduct, she could be one to watch. This division is completely wide-open as we set our sights toward the Kentucky Oaks.