Each week for the rest of the year, we will rank the best thoroughbred horses in America based on their divisions. Last weekend threw the 3-year-old division into complete disarray. It’s safe to say that things have changed a lot since last week. Let’s check out this week’s rankings:
1. Arrogate – Uh oh… the “unbeatable” Arrogate was an eye-popping fourth in the San Diego Handicap. He now must regroup in a major way following that kind of performance.
2. Gun Runner – He has a big race this weekend in the Grade 1 Whitney Stakes. The Whitney carries a lot of weight when discussing end-of-year awards, and if he has any shot of passing Arrogate, winning this race is a must.
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; however, he hasn’t been training well as of late.
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?
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 made it three Grade 1 wins in a row with another narrow win over Vale Dori once again in the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes. At this point, she has a nice lead over Songbird in the division, but one race could change it all.
2. Songbird – She proved victorious in the Grade 1 Delaware Handicap, but it was not as impressive as you would think. Now it’s being said that we may not see her again until the Zenyatta Stakes in late September.
3. Lady Eli – Her tremendous performance in the Grade 1 Diana now gives her a shot in this division, as it was her second Grade 1 win of the year (following the Gamely). It’s going to be tough to overtake the top two, but she is now within range.
4. Vale Dori – Even though she lost again to Stellar Wind, I moved her up a spot. She battled all the way down to the wire with Stellar Wind before again being narrowly defeated. She’s ranked behind three horses who are Hall of Fame-caliber.
5. 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.
Sleeper: 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.
1. Irap – He’s run two good races in a row and owns a win over the Haskell winner, so amazingly, I have him ranked number one. This division is so wide open right now!
2. Girvin – What an incredible race for him in the Grade 1 Haskell Stakes when he defeated McCraken right at the wire despite not having the greatest trip. That’s two great races from him in a row, as he was solid in the Grade 3 Ohio Derby as well.
3. Oscar Performance – It’s always tough for a turf horse to move up the rankings in this division, but it’s becoming easier and easier as the horses in the dirt division continue to struggle. Holding two wins over Good Samaritan, doesn’t he have to be ranked ahead of him?
4. Good Samaritan – Wow… maybe he wanted to run on dirt all along. He defeated the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness winners in what was basically a gallop for him. If he can win the Travers, he’ll move up to number one, and you have to think that he’ll have a big chance to do just that.
5. Always Dreaming – On resume alone, he’s still number one, and as poor as he was in the Jim Dandy, I guess it’s meaningful that he finished third. However, he has been bad in his last two races, and I don’t see him winning another.
Sleeper: The Baffert duo of West Coast and American Anthem – this tandem could easily come to Saratoga on Travers Day and win both the Travers and the Jerkens Stakes. Wins by either one will catapult them into the rankings and put them right in the mix.
1. Abel Tasman – Thoroughly entrenched now as the number one horse in this division after her third straight Grade 1 victory, she should have the Eclipse Award in the bag – as long as she doesn’t completely fall apart.
2. Unique Bella – She’s easily number one based on talent, but we must respect Abel Tasman for winning the Kentucky Oaks and Acorn. At this point, her passing Abel Tasman is becoming more and more unlikely.
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: Elate – Could we finally be seeing her full talents coming forward? She was probably the best horse in the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks.
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. 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. With the craziness that happened to Drefong in the Bing Crosby, this horse may now be the number-one sprinter for Baffert.
3. El Deal – He absolutely destroyed the field in the Grade 1 Vanderbilt Handicap. Trainer Jorge Navarro has him running at a level that will make him hard to beat – his early speed is deadly.
4. Sharp Azteca – It’s easy to forget about him, but he is easily the second-best dirt mile horse in the country. He had a stellar return at Monmouth Park on Haskell Day.
5. Drefong – So we waited eight months for that… wow! The Bing Crosby was certainly an adventure, as he bucked jockey Mike Smith right at the start, and now I wonder how he’ll come back from that. He definitely has some proving to do after that disaster.
Sleeper: Imperial Hint – He’s been forgot about because we haven’t seen him in a while. He was impressive in the Grade 3 Smile Sprint a couple of months back at Gulfstream Park.