Each week for the rest of the year, we will rank the best thoroughbred horses in America based on their divisions. Last week, we had great racing all across the continent featuring some eye-catching performances. Here’s how the rankings shape up this week:
1. Arrogate – THE GOAT
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 – His Santa Anita Handicap and Pimlico Special wins were great this year, but perhaps the best accomplishment was finishing second in the Pegasus World Cup to Arrogate. He will run this weekend in the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap at Belmont.
5. Cupid – I admit that his Gold Cup at Santa Anita win shocked me. He was awesome in that race and will be very successful in this division if he keeps up that type of effort. He’s currently pointing towards the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap at Belmont Park this weekend.
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 – The CHAMP is BACK in a big way with a very easy win in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps. I’ll keep her at second for now, but she’ll have every chance to pass Stellar Wind this summer.
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. Finest City – She was never within range of Vale Dori or Stellar Wind in the Beholder Mile, but she’s still a quality filly. She needs to only go one turn from now on.
Sleeper: Terra Promessa – She’s been running fantastic this year and recently proved that she can win outside of Oaklawn Park. Had to move her down to “Sleeper” after a great performance by Forever Unbridled at Churchill Downs.
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 – It was very disappointing that he had to scratch out of the Belmont Stakes, but he’ll go into the summer fresher than if he would’ve run. He’ll have every chance to take over the top spot with a few wins in the big races coming up this summer.
4. Tapwrit – Happily, this horse won the Belmont Stakes and proved his worth within the division. Just like the top 3 here, Tapwrit will have every chance to move up the rankings with big wins this summer.
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, as well as Irap and Girvin in the Grade 3 Ohio Derby? This division is entertaining!
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. Even thought I think that Unique Bella is more talented, Abel Tasman is putting together a big-time resume.
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 so far this year 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. Drefong – He’s number one in the rankings for now, but his long absence is troublesome. Mind Your Biscuits is poised to take over if he doesn’t come back soon.
2. Mind Your Biscuits – What a dramatic run to win the Golden Shaheen at Meydan. He can overtake the top spot with a win over Drefong. He returns this weekend at Belmont Park.
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 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.