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 debut set of rankings now that the Kentucky Derby is in the books.
1. City of Light – He might be the most underrated horse in the game right now. He has three straight graded stakes victories in both sprint and route races. His Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap win over Accelerate was fantastic.
2. West Coast – Gun Runner disposed of him in the Grade 1 Pegasus Stakes, and then Thunder Snow got the best of him in Dubai. Still, he’s a prime older male contender, and at this point, he’s first on most people’s lists.
3. Accelerate – He impressively won the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap before finishing a game second to City of Light in the Oaklawn Handicap. This horse seems to be getting better and better.
4. Army Mule – Trainer Todd Pletcher might have a monster on his hands with this undefeated colt. He dominated the Grade 1 Carter Handicap like a horse that has a massive future. It’s hard to believe that it was only his third lifetime start.
5. Backyard Heaven – Trainer Chad Brown has developed him slowly, a move that paid off with a win in the Grade 2 Alysheba Stakes on Kentucky Oaks Day. He beat a few solid horses in that race, but the waters will get deeper from here on out.
Sleeper: Good Samaritan – He kicked off his 2018 campaign with a win in the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap, then was third in the Alysheba in a race that didn’t set up well for him.
1. Unique Bella – This division is in flux right now, so it’s hard to know what to do with any of these horses. Unique Bella gets a pass for her runner-up Grade 1 Apple Blossom Stakes at Oaklawn, but she has to improve next time out.
2. Abel Tasman – This is another filly that gets a pass for a poor 2018 race after she struggled in the Grade 1 La Troienne Stakes to finish fourth. She’s way better than that, but she must rebound in a hurry.
3. Fault – She’s three for three this year, all against graded stakes company. The competition is going to get tougher, but based on resume alone, she’s the top filly in the division right now.
4. American Gal – You must respect this filly after her Grade 1 Humana Distaff Stakes win on Kentucky Derby Day. She could become one of the top sprinters in the country.
5. Martini Glass – She’s tackled some big races lately, including a decent third-place effort in her last start (the La Troienne) despite being up against a track bias. This is one to watch as we move on throughout the year.
Sleeper: Salty – The hard knocker finally broke through with a win in the La Troienne after she made a closing move along the rail. This could be the start of a big year for her.
1. Justify – Every Kentucky Derby winner assumes the number-one spot, and though not all of them can hold onto it, I wouldn’t bet against Justify if I were you. He looks to be the real deal and could be headed towards a special 2018.
2. Good Magic – He proved that his 2-year-old form was no joke with an excellent second in the Kentucky Derby. It’s still questionable whether or not he goes to Pimlico for the Preakness Stakes, but if he does, he’ll be the clear second choice, and the only one with a remote chance of beating Justify.
3. 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. It looks as though he’ll point for the Belmont Stakes now, where he could be tough to beat.
4. Bolt d’Oro – The Kentucky Derby was terribly disappointing for him, but he’s proven that he’s a better horse than that. He’ll now rest up for a summer campaign.
5. Magnum Moon – He’s another that had a disastrous Kentucky Derby, but that was the first loss of his career. He’ll bounce back from this and will likely have a solid summer campaign.
Sleeper: McKinzie – This may end up being the second-best horse in the crop. A minor injury caused him to miss the Kentucky Derby, but he’s already back training and is going to be tough to beat this summer.
1. Monomoy Girl – She proved that she was much the best with a win in the Kentucky Oaks despite drawing the 14 hole. With that win she now has a huge lead over her rivals in this division.
2. Midnight Bisou – The Kentucky Oaks didn’t set up well for her, but she still finished well to run third. She now moves to the barn of trainer Steve Asmussen in order to target a summer campaign in New York.
3. Wonder Gadot – She runs well in every single race but just can’t get up for a win. Her Kentucky Oaks race was fantastic, and at one point, she had the lead in mid-stretch before Monomoy Girl re-rallied for the victory.
4. Dream Tree – An injury forced her to miss the Kentucky Oaks, but she could come back strong with a summer campaign. She was a top contender before the injury.
5. Mia Mischief – She looks like the top 3-year-old sprinter in the country after a dominating win in the Grade 2 Eight Belles Stakes.
Sleeper: Caledonia Road – The 2-year-old champ returned in a small allowance race at Belmont Park and looked awfully good. She’s poised to return to stakes company next.
1. Mind Your Biscuits – When it comes to winning races in Dubai, nobody’s better than this horse. Let’s see if he can hold his form a bit longer this year and stay ranked number one throughout the entire season.
2. Roy H – He deserves a free pass in Dubai because it was his first bad race in a long time. The defending Breeders’ Cup champ should come back ready to roll once he’s ready for his next start in the United States.
3. X Y Jet – This Jorge Navarro-trained horse was all heart in Dubai but was narrowly defeated by Mind Your Biscuits in the end. He’ll be dangerous when he’s ready to run again.
4. Bobby Abu Dhabi – He’s been solid in both of his 2018 starts, finishing second to City of Light before winning the Grade 2 Kona Gold Stakes.
5. Imperial Hint – Draw a line through his last race because the track was not to his liking. He’ll come back strong in his next start.
Sleeper: Limousine Liberal – This horse loves Churchill Downs and loves an off race track. This time of year, he simply just wins races.