Saratoga Picks

Racing Dudes Divisional Rankings 9/19/18: 2-Year-Old Shake Up

Serengeti Empress winning the G2 Pocahontas (Credit: Coady Photography)

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 latest rankings, including my NTRA Top 10 Poll:

Overall Rankings

Here are my overall rankings as seen in the latest NTRA Top 10 Poll. The poll ranks the top thoroughbred horses based on if Horse of the Year voting was conducted at this very moment. To me, Justify still has the top spot, but Accelerate is at least making things interesting. This week, once again, there are no changes to my top 10:

1. Justify

2. Accelerate

3. Catalina Cruiser

4. Diversify

5. Abel Tasman

6. Monomoy Girl

7. Catholic Boy

8. Sistercharlie

9. Mind Your Biscuits

10. Imperial Hint

Older Males

1.  Accelerate – Look out, he’s far and away the top dog in this division after a nearly 13-length victory in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic Stakes at Del Mar.

2. Catalina Cruiser – There may be no stopping this horse now after he once again dominated his rivals in the Grade 2 Pat O’Brien Stakes. He is quickly becoming the most impressive horse in the country.

3. Diversify – When he is at his best, you simply cannot run with him on the front end. He crushed his rivals in the Grade 1 Whitney Stakes, giving him a solid Suburban/Whitney double.

4. Mind Your Biscuits – It looks like he is officially in this division now. It will be interesting to see how he matches up with the field in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. The Grade 3 Lukas Classic at Churchill Downs will be his next start.

5. Yoshida – His dirt debut was a successful one as he powered home to win the Grade 1 Woodward Stakes. It looks as though he will now be pointed towards the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Sleeper: West Coast – He is back in training and could come onto the scene late to make an impact in this division.

Older Females

1. Abel Tasman – The Grade 1 Personal Ensign Stakes may have been her most impressive race yet as she was able to hold off Elate once again to win.

2. Elate – It was another heartbreaker for Elate in the Personal Ensign as she just couldn’t get by Abel Tasman. She is still a major threat in this division and will reportedly try the boys in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

3. Unique Bella – Her injury and retirement means that she will continue to fall down the rankings. Hats off to a solid career.

4. Sistercharlie – She has now won three Grade 1 turf races this year and seems to be getting better with every race.

5. Blue Prize – She is never going to blow you away with her talents, but she just keeps on winning races. After her Grade 3 Locust Grove Stakes win, she is now pointing towards the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, which will be held at Churchill Downs, her favorite track.

Sleeper: Salty – The hard knocker finally broke through with a win in the Grade 1 La Troienne Stakes after making a closing move along the rail. She is currently on the bench, though.

3-Year-Old Males

1. Justify – The Triple Crown winner has this division on complete lockdown and should be the 2018 Horse of the Year as well, even though a recent hoof injury caused his premature retirement.

2. Catholic Boy – Make it three Grade 1 wins in a row for this guy, who is quickly becoming a beast. His transfer from turf to dirt to win the Travers Stakes was simply amazing.

3. Good Magic – He was given time off after his Travers effort was a complete dud, but his connections have now decided to give him the rest of the year off.

4. 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. However, he was away from the track until mid-September, and his connections have said that the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup is his main target, so expect him to return near the end of 2018.

5. Hofburg – He picked up a solid win in the $100,000 Curlin Stakes, which seemed to set him up for a big effort in the Travers before a fever caused him to drop out of that event. Hopefully, he can get a big-time win on his resume.

Sleeper: Bravazo – This horse just shows up every time with a solid effort. He might be the toughest horse in America.

3-Year-Old Females

1. Monomoy Girl – There is no doubt about it now: she is going to win the Eclipse Award for this division. Sealing the deal was her performance in the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks at Saratoga to make it five in a row.

2. Dream Tree – She has always been the second-best horse in this division, but an injury forced her to miss all of the important spring and summer races. She is back now, though, and could have a big say in things the rest of the year after her dominating Grade 1 Prioress Stakes win.

3. Wonder Gadot – It wouldn’t be right to punish her for trying the Travers and finishing last. She will bounce back once she races against females again, starting this weekend in the Grade 1 Cotillion Stakes at Parx.

4. Midnight Bisou – Another so-so effort at Saratoga in the Grade 1 Alabama Stakes does not give her much room to move forward. She will take on Monomoy Girl and Wonder Gadot once again in this weekend’s Cotillion.

5. Seperationofpowers – This might be the best female sprinter in the country, regardless of age, after a tremendous win in the Grade 1 Test Stakes.

Sleeper: Eskimo Kisses – She picked up her first Grade 1 victory in the Alabama at Saratoga and has been a consistent filly all year long.


1. Imperial Hint – He turned the Grade 1 Vanderbilt Handicap into a total laugher after he dominated the field without being asked for his best. He is on track for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint once again after finishing second in that race a year ago.

2. X Y Jet – The 6-year-old gelding just keeps winning and will always be the horse that they have to catch up front. His Grade 3 Smile Sprint Stakes victory at Gulfstream Park was an easy return as he begins to prepare for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

3. Roy H – The Bing Crosby was his first start since March and will likely be a solid building block for him, as he finished second. He will progress off of that race.

4. Ransom the Moon – This horse loves running in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Stakes. He won the race for the second straight year, but now he needs to pick up a few wins in-between to move up the rankings.

5. Whitmore – It was great to see him finally get a Grade 1 win in the Forego Stakes. If not for a couple of narrow losses he could be ranked number one in this division.

Sleeper: City of Light – I’ve moved him to this division, but there are talks that he could stretch out again. Either way, don’t hold the Forego against him because of an awful trip.

2-Year-Old Males

1. Instagrand – He is this division’s clear standout after two dominating efforts to start his career. However, he will miss the Breeders’ Cup, which means that he will be likely passed for the top spot by the end of the year.

2. Game Winner – He pulled off a mild upset in the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity Stakes over his Bob Baffert stablemate, Roadster, and the Jerry Hollendorfer-trained Rowayton.

3. Mind Control – This horse now has two victories in a row after outlasting his rivals to take home the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga.

4. Mucho – He may have lost the Hopeful as the favorite, but he still finished a solid second. Two-turn races should be where he excels.

5. Call Paul – His victory in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special Stakes made him 2-for-2 in his young career.

Sleeper: Cairo Cat – It was a big win for him in the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes, which was the first Kentucky Derby prep race of the season. He looked solid around two turns.

2-Year-Old Females

1. Serengeti Empress – This is your early favorite for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies after her dominating win in the Grade 2 Pocahontas Stakes at Churchill Downs.

2. Bellafina – She posted back-to-back stakes victories at Del Mar, including the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante Stakes, where she beat some really nice horses.

3. Newspaperofrecord – She might be a turf horse, but you had better pay attention after she dominated her debut at Saratoga over the lawn. She is the very early favorite to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.

4. Sippican Harbor – She closed from the clouds to win the Grade 1 Spinaway Stakes at Saratoga, giving her two nice victories is a row.

5. Restless Rider – She had a tough trip in the Spinaway but still finished a decent second. She has shown a lot of class in her two starts. 

Sleeper: Der Lu – She was an impressive maiden special weight winner at Del Mar. Also, she is trained by Baffert, which is never a bad thing.

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