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.

Filly Tops HRI Power 10

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, May 5, 2009--I must come clean. I’m rooting for a sloppy track in Baltimore. Know why?

Because if Mind That Bird underscores his love for a wet racetrack, it could produce the wackiest run-up to the Belmont Stakes in Triple Crown history.

It took little more than 24 hours for the gelding’s connections to go from Preakness fence-sitters to occupants of Stall 40 in the Preakness Stakes barn, the one reserved for Kentucky Derby champions.

We already expect the rail to be good in Baltimore, but the connections’ fear of the great Pimlico speed bias will dissipate once they learn that the infamous bias is more urban myth than reality.

And don’t sell Borel short, anyway. For sure, he’s earned the moniker “Bo-rail,” but he can go between and around, too. Horses, no matter what their style, just seem to love running for this race-riding everyman.

As for the Derby ride, intestinal fortitude doesn’t quite get it: Testicular fortitude is what separates him from the competition, a trait that all jockeys of Cajun persuasion seem to possess.

If the Baltimore track is dry and fast May 16, the Derby winner could be bet like some double-digit wet-track fluke. And whether he’s capable of running his Derby race back in two weeks is a concern come dry or high water.

Most of the Derby colts didn’t run their race on the sticky Churchill surface. Those that did didn’t move up in the going the way the winner did.

The best theory heard relative to Mine That Bird’s New Mexico form reversal was coming down to sea level from an elevation of 3,500 feet.

In two weeks, that factoid could make the Euro bounce look like a day on the Riviera.

At this point, several fast horses are lining up for a run at the black-eyed susans. We expect the Preakness to draw close to the 14-horse limit.

Five Derby runners are under consideration, the most notable being Pioneerof The Nile and Friesan Fire. Currently there are six new shooters.

Of those, disqualified Swale winner Big Drama--a go after working six furlongs in 1:14 at Calder on Monday--should be very formidable. He ships to Baltimore this week and will breeze over Pimlico next Monday. A fast, classy talent.

Withers winner Mr. Fantasy, Tesio winner Miner’s Escape, Coolmore Lexington runnerup Conservative, and Santa Anita fourth Take the Points, who skipped the Derby, will run in the Preakness instead.

Hello Broadway and European maiden winner Sky Gate are also under consideration.

Should most of the higher profile horses start, the Preakness will be very entertaining at best; a good betting race at worst.

The following, then, is not a prediction of who might win the Preakness. Rather, it’s an assessment--fancy talk for best guess--of the 2009 sophomore class still standing.

The HRI Power 10:

1-RACHEL ALEXANDER (31): With the possible exception of Quality Road, who’s speed, style and talent would be an excellent challenge, this filly’s the most talented three-year-old in America. It’s a huge treat that Hal Wiggins is turning her back to one mile over Big Sandy in the Acorn on Belmont day. Can’t wait to see her.

2-PIONEEROF THE NILE (28): This boy has talent. In the Derby it was could he, or couldn’t he? It turned out he was the only member of a Big Four turned Big Three able to handle the adverse conditions. Sorry figure people; inherent class always counts. And the rule’s still the same. You can’t define class, but you know it when you see it.

3-MINE THAT BIRD (24): Neat, shifty throw-back, no matter how he freaked in the mud, or how good he felt, it takes ability to do what he did and a jockey with the guts to ride him like a good horse. That’s what Calvin said he did and that’s enough for me. Really happy gelding came back good and is going on to Baltimore. Remember fun?

4-I WANT REVENGE (19): So how do you like your karma now? Saturday night everyone was asking what the buzz was re: the Derby-morning scratch. Take a guess. Ankle schmankle, or Fe Fi Mo Mullins? Showed he had talent at 2 when an altered-course second in the Cash Call Futurity behind Pioneerof The Nile, of course.

5-MUSKET MAN (16): Proved best of the perceived second-tier types. He actually moved forward when the real running started--well handled by Eibar Coa--and continued very well through the wire while playing a little bumper cars at the end. That takes class, too. He’s a little win machine.

6-QUALITY ROAD (15): What happened to the colt’s trainer Jimmy Jerkens certainly doesn’t seem fair, does it? Well, the game’s tough on the horses that do what they were bred to do and for those charged with their care. No Preakness, either. The connections should pass on the mile and a half Belmont in favor a prep for the Derby of Midsummer.

7-PAPA CLEM (11): A better dirt than synthetic horse, with talent and demonstrable heart. Took a good bump from Pioneerof The Nile while making a center-track rally that wins lots of Derbies and also kept moving forward at the wire. There’s another big race with his name on it out there somewhere.

8-HULL (5): Guess the connections didn’t think much of the Derby horses because he’s back in their Preakness plans. Seriously meant? At this point, I have my doubts. He’s 3-for-3, very talented, and made an above-average effort to win the Derby Trial at a demanding 7-½ furlongs. Could be a very good horse but I wouldn’t choose this spot to see whether he can two-turn or not.

9-FRIESAN FIRE (4): Said it 21 minutes before the race on HRI somewhere: His odds were ridiculous. We talk about the amount of romantic wagering that goes on in every Derby; an American racing cliché. And I have a soft spot for General Quarters, too, but his price was silly as well. When I think about FF’s Preakness chances, I think that he would need to be this year’s Snow Chief. But then Snow Chief was a better horse.

10-SUMMER BIRD (3): Said it before the Derby, in front of witnesses. I know he’s anti-profile with his late-run style but he makes me think Belmont and that’s probably where he’ll wind up. He was as lightly raced as Dunkirk but wasn’t taken half as seriously despite his worthy tough-trip third at Oaklawn. He was wider into the Derby stretch than Musket Man. Trainer Tim Ice had it right: “He ran good for a horse with just four starts."

Written by John Pricci - Comments (0)


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