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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.


Mo Works, Macho Runs, Honor Waits


BOYNTON BEACH, FLA., February 22, 2011--The first Derby Futures is in the book but the action extended far beyond the tracks and race books.

Much of it, especially if you had an emotional or parimutuel attachment to last weekend’s winners, was very good. And if you’re a fan of juvenile champion Uncle Mo, you had a good weekend, too.

Monday’s Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park was both entertaining and revealing. It indicated that the winner, Archarcharch, could stalk a hot pace, rally wide, take heat from both sides and run on to the wire.
The work day is about to begin as dawn breaks at Palm Meadows
Photo by: Toni Pricci
The work day is about to begin as dawn breaks at Palm Meadows
It also indicated that J P’s Gusto is alive and well, giving hope that the West Coast might yet produce a challenger to the consensus Big Three from the East.

The Southwest was J P’s only his second start on dirt. He made his run into fast fractions, never looked a winner, but continued well enough while steadying slightly nearing the finish. In the main, it was a good race to build on.

The San Vicente was revealing, too, in as much as a sprint at this stage can be. Everyone knows The Factor is fast. But what he demonstrated at 7-½ furlongs Sunday is that he can take strong early heat, open daylight, and still run the competition off its feet.

Now it’s a matter off that pesky second turn and two and-a-half more furlongs.

Runner-up Sway Away impressed with his flying finish and appeared to be reaching the winner who, while tiring some, still had energy to compete. Indeed, when Sway Away passed him on the gallop-out, The Factor re-rallied to regain the advantage. Takes a good horse to do that after running as fast as he did.

But the most impressive winner for horses pointing for May’s first Saturday clearly was Risen Star hero Mucho Macho Man. The colt was Mucho Macho early and plenty o' Man late, refusing to let another rival by.

In fact, he was drawing out from Santiva who, making his three-year-old debut beneath Mike Smith, ran very well, and like Macho Man, lost ground throughout the entire two turn event. Yet another good effort to build on.

Same can be said for Rogue Romance, another debuting sophomore. Showing freshness, he had to be restrained early and needed to be held up awaiting room on the inside entering the stretch. After angling out into the clear, he finished well in a very useful performance.

Make no mistake; this was a strongly run Risen Star with a final two and-a-half furlongs in :30.33, helping to complete a mile and a sixteenth in 1:43.98.

1. UNCLE MO (36) Number One didn't race but he sure did some running over the weekend. Nearly under cover of darkness Sunday morning at Payson Park, the juvenile champion went in splits of :25 3/5 and :37 2/5 en route to five furlongs in 1:01 2/5, a final quarter of :24 flat, and galloped out three-quarters in 1:14 2/5. Uncle Mo has nearly flawless action, so economical with no wasted motion as he glides over the ground. Here’s the thing about the work that impressed the most: It looked more like an open gallop. The Timely Writer, an open handicap for three-year-olds at Gulfstream Park at a flat mile March 12, marks his three-year-old debut.

To Honor And Serve - Slouching Towards Gulfstream Park
Photo by: Toni Pricci
To Honor And Serve - Slouching Towards Gulfstream Park
2. TO HONOR AND SERVE (25) Finished his preparations at Payson Park for Saturday’s Fountain Of Youth over the holiday weekend with a very sharp half mile and has had a good winter in Indiantown. He was screaming for his breakfast by the time we got to Barn 3 on the Payson backside, was behind the webbing so we couldn’t get a good look. But he colt certainly looked taller than when we last saw him at the Remsen. Flattered when Remsen runner-up Mucho Macho Man took Saturday’s Risen Star, Uncle Mo’s regular rider Johnny Velazquez, who rode the colt in the Remsen, has a return call on Saturday. It’s nice to have options.

3. DIALED IN (25) When asked after the Holy Bull whether the undefeated colt would run back in the Fountain Of Youth, trainer Nick Zito was concerned that Saturday’s nine furlongs was a bit too soon after his Grade 3 mile effort. Apparently he still is. Dialed In is not considered a Fountain Of Youth probable at this point. The problem is that Zito’s running out of Derby racetrack with a colt that has had only two lifetime starts and never has raced around two turns. Into the bridle, he galloped very strongly while under a pull from his exercise rider Sunday morning. With Uncle Mo headed to the Wood, this guy might have New Orleans or Hot Springs on his dance card next.
Dialed In is keeping fit while Nick Zito mulls his options.
Photo by: Toni Pricci
Dialed In is keeping fit while Nick Zito mulls his options.


4. BRETHREN (22) All roads lead to Tampa. The impressive winner of the Sam F. Davis Memorial in his three-year-old debut, he’s headed back north now that his more celebrated mate has opted out of the Tampa Bay Derby. He beat a non-distinguished group in the Davis and might find Tampa’s Derby on the soft side, too, unless another highly rated three-year-old ships in. Zito didn’t have much luck in Tampa with War Pass. If that bad taste is not lingering, he could join Brethren in the starting gate. But that likely means passing up the million dollar Florida Derby three weeks after. The week after that would mean meeting Uncle Mo in New York--not until everybody gets to Churchill--or Cicero, Illinois. In life, these are good problems to have.

5. SOLDAT (12) Kiaran McLaughlin is highly unlikely to get his weather wish as projections are for sunny skies in SoFla the rest of the week. Darley colt was an impressive winner in the slop early at the Gulfstream meet and opened some eyes while winning on the turf in Saratoga at two. Progressing well for the Fountain Of Youth, given his conditioning edge he could give To Honor And Serve all he can handle on Saturday. Prepared for the most important race of his career with a sharp half-mile over the weekend.

6. JAYCITO (11) Working fast for Bob Baffert is not exactly scoop material, but this young man has taken his morning drills to a new level. He shouldn’t be short of condition for Santa Anita’s San Felipe on March 12. He’s had two very strong distance drills of seven furlongs and must be impressing someone given the strong betting support in Derby Futures Pool 1. We realize this is first-time Bullet Bob, but after winning the G1 Norfolk he was badly 5-1 in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile but bolted going down the backside. Some horses have long memories; 21-1 in that context seems a bit light.

7. MUCHO MACHO MAN (8) With heart transplant recipient Kathy Ritvo taking over the training from husband Tim, who has taken a good hold of the reins in the executive wing at Gulfstream Park, this horse with the cool, fun name is the story of the young Triple Crown season. And the Risen Star victory was delivered with an old school master’s hard. Drilled hard and too fresh for his Holy Bull season’s debut, Ritvo removed the blinkers, breezed the colt a soft five furlongs between the Holy Bull and Risen Star, shipped into the Crescent City and got the money in a hickory tough performance.
Winstar's Elliott Walden preps for upcoming two-year-old sales
Photo by: Toni Pricci
Winstar's Elliott Walden preps for upcoming two-year-old sales


8. ANTHONY’S CROSS (7) The second of three Southern Californians on the HRI Power 10, he's another who benefited from an equipment change, adding blinkers for his recent Robert Lewis win. With the eyewear, he was able to put his tactical speed to good use and, while maybe not exciting the performance figure guys and gals, his development pattern is very healthy. His next start will tell whether he's a true prime time performer.

9. THE FACTOR (6) Simply have to admire this guy’s brilliance, even if those efforts have come over the jazzed up Santa Anita strip. Although his energy distribution has been good in recent starts, it’s almost impossible to conceive of this colt laying down the kind of fractions he's shown and keep going around a second turn. Baffert recently said he was going to take his time with this young man. Meaning the Derby might not be in his future after all.

10. STAY THIRSTY (5) Prepping for his three-year-old debut in the Gotham, Mo’s stablemate was extremely impressive at Palm Meadows Sunday morning. Working as a team with the good filly R Heat Lightning, Mike Repole’s “other” three-year-old went in splits of :25 :36 4/5, getting his final quarter in :23 4/5 on his way to five furlongs in 1:00 3/5, galloping out six in 1:13 3/5 with something in reserve. “I couldn’t believe my watch,” said head clocker Brian Walls. I couldn’t believe my eyes. As stated, it’s nice to have options.

Written by John Pricci - Comments (5)

 
 

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