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.

Soldat: #2 With a Bullet

HALLANDALE BEACH, FLA., March 1, 2011--Now, even if the focus is a bit muddled, the three-year-old picture is gaining more definition with each passing week on both the racetrack and the work tab.

While Soldat was emerging as a serious Kentucky Derby contender in the Fasig Tipton Fountain of Youth 40 miles to the north of the Palm Meadows training center, juvenile champion and protem Derby favorite Uncle Mo was readying for his fifth workout of the year the following morning.

Sunday was the champ’s fifth workout this season and his fourth in company with Stay Thirsty. So far everything’s been right on time including his schedule. You could set your clock by it--real early every Sunday morning.

Uncle Mo’s first three company works were meant to advance fitness until his third trial when he became a little too aggressive, working faster than trainer Todd Pletcher wanted.

So he went solo in his fourth work and glided through his five furlong work in 1:01 2/5, galloping out in 1:14 2/5 for six furlongs. The effort was seamless.

This Sunday’s work served to sharpen both he and Stay Thirsty. The champ debuts in the one mile overnight handicap for three-year-olds, the Timely Writer at a mile on March 12 at Gulfstream Park

With his impressive Fountain of Youth, Soldat leapfrogged into 2nd place in HRI Power 10, Week 3, answering a big question in the process. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said afterwards that he was never concerned that his colt wouldn’t duplicate his good turf and wet track form over a fast surface.

But weeks before at Palm Meadows, he talked about how he would do a rain dance prior to the Fountain of Youth. He’s a real kidder that McLaughlin.

Soldat’s effort impressed not because it was particularly fast or particularly eye-pleasing but because while moving up to the G2 level, he showed good speed to maintain his pole position in the short run to the first turn, took sustained pressure throughout, and turned back the challenges of two accomplished rivals.

Approaching headstretch, the classy To Honor And Serve made a mid-race run but settled for third in his first start of the season. Then came the redoubtable Gourmet Dinner who tried sweeping to command but Soldat reengaged, putting two lengths between himself and Gourmet Dinner at the finish.

Reiterating our reaction from Saturday night’s stakes wrap-up, all To Honor And Serve lost on Saturday was a horserace.

Considering he was forced to race wide on the first turn, entering and through the backstretch, spotting a better conditioned rival surface experience in the process, tiring to finish third at nine furlongs after only six recorded workouts is completely understandable. One more prep and he should be spot on come Derby Day.

HRI Kentucky Derby Power 10, Week 3:

1. UNCLE MO (36): Picked up the pace of his preparation, working a best of day five furlongs in 1:00 2/5 in company with Stay Thirsty. Have no fear; the Timely Writer on March 12th will go if Pletcher has to fill the race himself.

2. SOLDAT (27): Very interesting horse. Every time he circled the walking ring at Gulfstream Park last Saturday, he seemed to pump himself up bigger and bigger. If he were any more on schedule they’d be running the Derby in McLaughlin’s backyard.

3. DIALED IN (24): Nick Zito really doesn’t want to race this colt a mile again, preferring a two-turn prep. We can’t blame him. Light on experience but not talent, he worked five furlongs in :59 4/5 last week. If a nine furlong allowance race for his class doesn’t go, here’s a thought: Older horses.

4. BRETHREN (21): I’m probably overthinking this one, but I thought he might have had a workout sooner than last week following his Sam F. Davis score. Pletcher and Winstar marking time until the March 12 Tampa Bay Derby.

5. TO HONOR AND SERVE (16): Dropped three spots from Week 2 following his Fountain of Youth defeat. Bill Mott doesn’t seem troubled by the defeat, nor did Johnny Velazquez. In fact, they both seemed to like his effort on Saturday. We did, too.

6. ANTHONY’S CROSS (9): Doesn’t get any respect for winning the Robert B. Lewis Memorial but that could be a mistake. An equipment change really moved him up and he was courageous to begin with. The waters are beginning to deepen now but trainer Eoin Harty will await the Santa Anita Derby to test his buoyancy.

6. JAYCITO (9): Training up a storm for his season’s debut--his first start for Bob Baffert--in the San Felipe which will go a long way in showing just how much depth there is among the West Coast three-year-olds. Too early to count the Left Coasters out just yet.

8. GOURMET DINNER (7): Just point him in the direction of a racetrack, any racetrack, any distance, and watch him run. Never, ever fails to give a good account of himself. Hickory tough and getting better with every start.

9. MUCHO MACHO MAN (6): What’s not to love about his Risen Star; taking heat throughout while surrounded and kept going, as strong at the finish as he was at the start. Underrate this late foal at your own peril.

9. STAY THIRSTY (6): Gets his chance to come out from the tall shadows cast by his celebrated stablemate. If he is defeated in his season’s debut, the G3 Gotham, it won’t be for lack of fitness or fire. Looked like distance was going to be his thing as a two-year-old. He’ll get his chance to prove it starting Saturday.

Written by John Pricci - Comments (21)


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