Each week for the rest of the year, we will rank the best thoroughbred horses in America based on their divisions. We’ve got a few changes to the rankings this week after some nice performances at Belmont Park. Lets see how things look now after a fun-filled weekend:
1. Arrogate – THE GOAT is BACK this weekend in the San Diego Handicap at Del Mar.
2. Gun Runner – Back from Dubai and perhaps better than ever, he ROMPED in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs. His level of improvement has been absolutely incredible.
3. Mor Spirit – His “WOW” performance in the Met Mile officially confirmed that he’s arrived in a major way. His progression from 3 to 4 has been impressive.
4. Shaman Ghost – He still looks like he belongs in this spot, but his loss to Keen Ice in the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap was disappointing. Could he be tailing off?
5. Disco Partner – After setting a world record in the Jaipur Stakes and dominating in the Forbidden Apple Stakes at a mile he deserves to be ranked. He looks like a budding star.
Sleeper: Collected – Yet another Bob Baffert star! He earned a 111 Beyer for his dominate win in the Grade 3 Precisionist Stakes at Santa Anita. He may try the turf at Del Mar for his next start.
1. Stellar Wind – She’s earned the number one spot for now after her second Grade 1 win of the season. However, Songbird looms large…
2. Songbird – Proved victorious in the Grade 1 Delaware Handicap, but it was not as impressive as you would think. I’m ok with leaving Stellar Wind first for now.
3. Forever Unbridled – She had an absolutely perfect return to the races in the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis at Churchill Downs. She won under a hand ride and is now ready for bigger and better things.
4. Vale Dori – She was valiant in defeat in the Beholder Mile, only losing to Stellar Wind by a head. This quality filly has closed the gap on the division’s elite.
5. Dona Bruja – This turf filly is one to look out for this year. Since coming to the United States, she’s won both starts in impressive fashion, including most recently in the Grade 3 Modesty Handicap at Belmont Park.
Sleeper: Terra Promessa – She’s been running fantastic this year and recently proved that she can win outside of Oaklawn Park. She’s pointing for a Saratoga campaign this summer.
1. Always Dreaming – He’s the only horse in the division to have two Grade 1 wins, including the Kentucky Derby, the division’s biggest race of the year.
2. Cloud Computing – Both he and Classic Empire have one win this year, and Cloud Computing has the bigger of the two, when he beat Classic Empire head-to-head in the Preakness.
3. Classic Empire – He was targeting a start in the Grade 1 Haskell Stakes, but will now point for the Grade 1 Travers Stakes instead because of lingering foot issues. Not a great sign for this star crossed three year old.
4. Tapwrit – Pointing for the Grade 1 Travers Stakes as it looks like he will also skip the Haskell/Jim Dandy. Not sure that is a great sign.
5. Irish War Cry – His solid bounce-back effort in the Belmont Stakes proved that, on his best days, he can be pretty tough to beat. Hopefully, he’ll have a big summer campaign.
Sleeper: Timeline – A beautifully-easy win in the Grade 3 Pegasus has him set up for the Haskell Invitational on July 30 at Monmouth Park, where he’ll take on the top dogs in the division. McCraken is worth a mention because he bounced back to win the Grade 3 Matt Winn at Churchill Downs. Also, how about the return of Battle of Midway in the Grade 3 Affirmed Stakes? The list doesn’t end there…Irap now has two nice wins in a row, and West Coast was simply awesome in the Los Alamitos Derby. This division is deep with talent!
1. Abel Tasman – Mike Smith gave this filly an incredible ride in the Grade 1 Acorn when she picked up her second huge stakes win in five weeks. Ships to Saratoga this week to run in the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks. She outworked Mor Spirit in a big way last week.
2. Unique Bella – She’s easily number one based on talent, but we must respect Abel Tasman for winning the Kentucky Oaks and Acorn. If Unique Bella comes back and wins big races (like Songbird last year), she can overtake the top spot. No workouts in a long time is concerning.
3. Lady Aurelia – She gave us a quite a thrill at Royal Ascot when winning the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes. The long-term goal for this international star will be the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.
4. Unchained Melody – She defeated a decent field in the Grade 2 Mother Goose with ease. She looks to be the rising star in the division after dominating the year so far and could be a really good horse this summer.
Sleeper: Lockdown – She had a solid effort in the Grade 2 Mother Goose, finishing second after missing the break. She could have something to say in this division as we move towards the summer.
1. Mind Your Biscuits – He demolished the field in the Grade 2 Belmont Sprint Championship to earn the number-one spot. His level of improvement is off the charts.
2. Drefong – He’s lost his top spot spot for now, but a big return this summer could change things. He holds a two-race head-to-head lead over Mind Your Biscuits.
3. Danzing Candy – It’s hard to deny how good he’s looked in his last two races, and his 107 Beyer speed figure in the Grade 2 San Carlos is scary-good. Bob Baffert continues to be on fire.
4. Whitmore – I’m giving him a mulligan for his poor True North performance. That was not the “real” Whitmore by any stretch. If he can rebound, he’s still one of the top horses in this group.
5. Imperial Hint – His strong effort in the Smile Sprint could be his coming-out party this year. He looked like a horse that could be turning into a beast.
Sleeper: Sharp Azteca – He gave a solid performance in the Met Mile, finishing second behind Mor Spirit’s freak performance. Seems 7 furlongs might be his perfect distance.