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.

The HRI Derby Ten, Week 7

Hallandale Beach, Fla., March 24, 2009--There was nothing shaking here except palm fronds and a handful of Florida Derby workers last weekend. But the Gulfstream Park simulcasts produced some interesting fodder, although how significant is yet to be determined.

If anything was clear from the two preps run at Turfway Park is that this guy Mott is a horse trainin’ SOB. To have Hold Me Back come out firing off a four-month layup is one thing, to do so on a synthetic surface another, but to do it at Kick-Back Downs is something else, especially with a horse that comes from the clouds.

Which was where Hold Me Back came from to win the Grade 2 Lanes End. And isn’t that just like Mott? Make no mistake; Mott’s ego is as healthy as the next Hall of Famer's. But those South Dakota types don’t really take a shinin’ to the glare of Kentucky Derby klieg lights. So now, Bill, the annoying questions can begin.

Like what’s the dirt deal? Your horse has won over every manner of Polytrack; at Arlington Park, Keeneland and now Turfway. The stinker came in last year’s Remsen at Aqueduct, which may be the best dirt surface in New York. Many horseman will tell you they prefer it to Belmont’s.

Not even Kent Desormeaux, who executed a well timed, powerful end run, knows how this looker will handle dirt. And Desormeaux has a pretty good line on what it takes to handle Churchill Downs, Big Brown being his third Derby-winning ride. He did say that he was looking forward to riding the colt back in the Blue Grass, thank you.

Don’t know what to make of the performances of co-favorites West Side Bernie and Bittel Road. We didn’t notice anything that would encourage their connections to continue on the Derby path. Bittel Road will be looking for another synthetic run. ‘Bernie’ is likely to come back in the Wood.

Rose Fever is a particularly virulent strain.

Not sure what to make of Cliffy’s Future either, the drawing-out winner of the Rushaway Stakes. The race flattered the newly graded Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay. While he was no threat there, Cliffy certainly looked like a new horse last weekend. He, too, is scheduled to run back in the Blue Grass, as is Mafaaz, winner of the Kentucky Derby Challenge Stakes in Kempton last week, proving nothing.

Resultantly, there wasn’t much change among HRI’s Power 10, with a half-dozen really nice three-year-olds bunched up at the top. Chances are Saturday’s Florida Derby will determine where the true strength among the Eastern-based runners lay. Unless it’s Middle East-based, where Desert Party takes his next step in the UAE Derby on Saturday.

The HRI Derby Ten, Week 7:

1-Pioneerof The Nile (30): The battle for Best in the West is a week from Saturday, Santa Anita’s Derby. This guy has nothing to prove and figure Bob Baffert will leave a little something in the tank.

2-Friesan Fire (28): All’s been quiet on the Midwest front since the colt swept the Louisiana route to Kentucky. It’s up to Larry Jones to keep this ultra sharp sophomore right where he is, a challenging feat for any horseman.

3-I Want Revenge (27): His very fast Gotham win apparently is buying his connections some leverage. In these times, that’s not a bad idea. Had big five-eighths work over the weekend. Learn more in the Wood, a week from Saturday.

4-The Pamplemousse (19): Has the Solis family all excited, with daddy riding and his son owning. It would make a great comeback story for Solis whose career was interrupted by a serious injury. Big match coming up with the Pioneer.

5-Quality Road (16): Despite comprehensive Fountain of Youth score, making him the legitimate Florida Derby favorite, he’s the probable second choice to highly touted Dunkirk on Saturday. First time two turns.

6-Old Fashioned (15) [tie]: Haven’t heard much since stunning defeat in the Rebel and he still can go in either direction come the Arkansas Derby. Trainer Larry Jones fired Ramon Dominguez. Bad move come May’s first Saturday.

6-Desert Party (15) [tie]: Entries have been drawn for the UAE Derby and this colt looms a solid favorite over more mature Southern Hemisphere three-year-olds. Let’s assume he wins with authority. Then what?

8-Dunkirk (8): Has no graded earnings and is extremely light on experience, making a Florida Derby win almost mandatory. There’s still the Lexington, but that’s not the Pletcher way. Think Preakness.

9-Theregoesjojo (4): His turn of foot is electric and he’s split two meetings with Quality Road at Gulfstream Park. Had useful work in the slop preparing for this weekend. Stayer, or stretch-running sprinter?

10-Win Willy (2): Deserves to get his due. He did beat Old Fashioned with a strong closing burst--on dirt--has a classy pedigree and hails from capable, albeit low profile connections. Next start will indicate whether he’s for real or the best of sub-par rivals.

Written by John Pricci - Comments (0)


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