HRI's Triple Crown Power Rankings

The HRI Triple Crown Power Rankings is a consensus opinion of HorseRaceInsider's editorial staff compiled and written by executive editor John Pricci. It is an amalgam of achievement and opinion relative to the merits of the 2013 Triple Crown. The HRI Triple Crown Power Rankings will be adjusted each week following significant prep race developments.

HRI Triple Crown Power 10, Week 18: Don’t Frown on My Crown

ELMONT, NY, June 8, 2010--Another Triple Crown season is in the books and for that most people are thankful. It seems many of them didn’t like the 2010 edition all that much. As if no one ever bet on a slow horse before.

Personally, I hate to see the Triple Crown end. I love every minute of every Triple Crown. Always did; always will, “Empire State of Mind” notwithstanding, of course.

It’s the sport’s best foot forward because the public thinks it is and that’s all that really matters. It still has relevancy for them. It might not be baseball, but the Triple Crown remains a great way to count the years. As Nick Zito might ask, right or wrong?

Aside from its popularity, the Triple Crown series as concept works because of it’s tri-seasonality. There’s the prep season, the series itself, and the maturity and consistency that summer and fall racing brings beyond those three famous races.

The prep season provides a winter of discovery. Which will horses burst on the scene and announce themselves, at whatever decibel level they could muster. Which horses made the desired transition from freshman to sophomore season? It’s fascinating, fun and interesting to bet on.

The prep season ends and the series begins at the finish line at Churchill Downs. New storylines are introduced, new stars born, old excuses made. The chaos of a 20-horse Derby yields the largest betting pool of the year and a life altering wagering opportunity. It takes only two minutes and you need not hock the family jewels.

And, for at least one moment, win or lose, there’s an opportunity to tear up every eye in the house.

Round two provides either validation or redemption, setting the stage for round three. And those times when the last round cannot provide the ultimate stage, it still can supply closure. What makes the series finale special is how it can test a thoroughbred like never before, and perhaps never again.

For a twinkling this winter, it appeared that Eskendereya might be “one of the ones.” But his limbs betrayed him and his star fell as quickly as I rose. Then last year‘s champ showed up in Louisville, drew the rail, and wound up, as his trainer feared, “screwed.”

And so the Derby winner went on to Baltimore, for the season and not with a reason. It wasn’t so much the two weeks between Derby and Preakness but the five weeks from Hot Springs to Baltimore. But the champion had his redemption, but eschewed the third leg in favor of the final trimester.

The final leg featured a measure of revenge for a colt who had a few believers and whose prep season featured one errant trip after another robbing him of a chance to compete in America’s most celebrated horse race. But as his trainer later would note, things happen for a reason.

This was one of those years when the whole certainly is greater than the sum of the individual parts, serving to whet the appetite because the most accomplished member of the Belmont field left his race somewhere between Zito’s and the Belmont Park starting gate.

But that means he could show up at the Jersey Shore and meet at least two of the three classic winners and the whole lot of them can decide for themselves who is best in the Derby of Midsummer. If the racing gods allow, it could be a Travers for the ages.

Although it didn’t happen in bunches, or in a particularly compelling fashion, or with any measure of speed to spare, the 2010 Triple Crown had its moments. Lookin At Lucky, the best of his generation last year, winds up atop the HRI Triple Crown Power 10, which is where he started from 18 weeks ago.

Todd Pletcher got his first Derby, Bill Mott his first classic, Mike Smith his first Belmont, a breeding operation that loves to race as well as sell won two of the legs, Bullet Bob got his prize and Zito finished in the money thrice with three different animals, almost as unique as a winning sweep.

Of course, there were lowlights, as well. The greed and poor public relations shown by Churchill Downs and Pimlico for not offering Dime Superfectas, or other forms of fractional wagering for that matter, eliminated the possibility of a windfall that might turned tourists into regulars, not to mention servicing their loyal customer base.

To their credit, Belmont Park did offer Dime Superfectas, keeping its daily wagering format in tact. Parenthetically, if you wanted to wager on Monmouth Park’s highly popular and successful 50-Cent Pick Five you could, only in $1 denominations which, of course, punishes all except for very biggest bettors.

Since we’re nitpicking, we’ll engage in a single tiny criticism of one the three major networks broadcasting the Triple Crown events. If I were an owner or trainer, I don’t want Jerry Bailey or anyone else distracting my jockey with interviews during warm-ups.

I want my rider focused, concentrating on his mount, and not preoccupied answering innocuous questions. When his livelihood depended on it, I doubt very much that Mr. Bailey would have permitted himself to be distracted making pre-race chatter. Post race, no problem.

Here, then, the HRI Triple Crown Power 10 Final, Week 18:

1. Lookin At Lucky (36): Has a million reasons to ship East on August 1.

2. Super Saver (27): Pletcher, seeking his third Haskell, will bring a fresh horse to town.

3. Drosselmeyer (24): I’m betting he’ll take the Jim Dandy route to the Travers.

4. Ice Box (17): Zito’s a Jim Dandy man, but that’s unlikely with this colt, this year.

5. Fly Down (15): Zito Part 2: Could take either route to the Midsummer Derby.

5. First Dude (15): Don’t be surprised if he turns out to be the best of them all.

7. Sidney's Candy (9): Better suited to 9-furlong Haskell than 10-furlong Travers.

7. Paddy O’Prado (9): Turf racing can wait.

9. Jackson Bend (5): Zito Part 3: Jim Dandy to the rescue.

10. Trappe Shot (4): Exciting newcomer can sprint; bred to do more.

Written by John Pricci - Comments (0)


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