Now that all the dust has cleared, and the scores have been settled, it’s time to examine which final prep races ended up being the most productive this Triple Crown Season. We used the following point scale to rank the Preps:
Triple Crown Race Starter: 2 points
Fourth Place Finisher: 4 points
Third Place Finisher: 6 points
Second Place Finisher: 8 points
First Place Finisher: 10 points
1. Arkansas Derby – 28 Points
The race did not produce a Triple Crown race winner, but the field was loaded with second and third place runners. Danza was third in the Kentucky Derby, Ride On Curlin was second in the Preakness, and Commissioner was second in the Belmont Stakes. This race also produced Bayern, who didn’t have much impact on the Triple Crown, but could turn into the top sprinter in the crop. Overall this field was easily the strongest of them all when you look at it from top to bottom. In a year where most locals thought Oaklawn was a little bit down, it ended up being a very productive Arkansas Derby.
2. Santa Anita Derby – 26 Points
I was shocked to see this come out as the second best prep race, and if I was not ranking these by a points system it would obviously be the number one prep race of the season. California Chrome won two out of three legs of the Triple Crown, and was within two lengths of winning the whole thing. However, the depth of the race was bad once Hoppertunity was injured. The only other starter in any of the Triple Crown events was Candy Boy, who was disappointing in the Kentucky Derby and we haven’t seen him since.
3. Wood Memorial – 18 Points
Wicked Strong never quite lived up to the hype, but he also ran consistently enough to earn this race a decent amount of points. Samraat also was respectable in both the Derby and Belmont, but he also just couldn’t land the big prize. Still the New York crop was strong this year, and could get even better as the year goes along.
4. Bluegrass Stakes – 16 Points
It was a decent year for the Bluegrass Stakes as Dance With Fate and Medal Count both ran fairly well in the Kentucky Derby. Medal Count was able to show up at Belmont and run a close third, and with a little bit better trip may have gotten up for the victory. Major changes will be coming to this race next year as Keeneland will be switching back to dirt. Will it improve the performance of a prep race that has lost a little bit of luster?
5. Louisiana Derby – 14 Points
Commanding Curve’s second place effort in Kentucky saved the Louisiana Derby from being towards the bottom. Both Vicar’s in Trouble and Intense Holiday were disappointing in the Kentucky Derby and weren’t heard from again.
6. Sunland Derby – 10 Points
It wasn’t a “Mine that Bird” type success, but this years Sunland Derby was more productive that ones in recent years. Commissioner nearly won the Belmont, and the race did produce Chitu as a Kentucky Derby starter.
7. Florida Derby – 8 Points
It was the worst Florida Derby in recent memory. Of course it didn’t help that the race winner Constitution was hurt before the Triple Crown ever started, and also several other top prospects in Florida got injured. If not for General A Rod starting in all three Triple Crown races, this could have been tied with the Spiral for the worst perp of the season. Not something racing fans are used to at Gulfstream Park.
8. Spiral Stakes – 4 Points
Easily the worst of the prep races. Only two horse even made starts in a Triple Crown Race: We Miss Artie and Harry’s Holiday