The HRI Derby Power 10 is a compilation of votes cast by Executive Editor John Pricci, staffers Tom Jicha and Brendan O'Meara and Players’ representative Indulto graded on a 12-points for first, 9 for second, 8 for third basis, etc., etc., and was written by the editor
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., March 25, 2013--Based on what HRI readers have told us, and after conferring with our contributors, this is how we’re going to arrive at our Triple Crown rankings going forward.
Simply stated, we’re cutting this baby in half.
The HRI staff, and its editor, will list our choices each week according to these guidelines:
In order to render an accurate picture of this, or any season’s, Derby class, we will effort to apply some objective measure to the process by ranking the top half of the list based on accomplishment.
This section of the Power 10 is really no different than what is done in many mainstream-sports polls: An assessment of schedule strength relative to wins and losses.
In Thoroughbred racing, graded stakes are the best objective measure available. If the human connections aspire to it, and graded victories equates to dollar worth, then that’s where the best talent likely resides.
But fans and bettors want polls to be predictive, too, and that’s what the lower half of the Power 10 is intended to reflect. Hopefully, this serves the needs of the novice and serious fans alike.
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It is unlikely that the weekend’s prep races and going to cause much stirring at the top of most polls. But that doesn’t mean these races should be afforded a modicum of respect.
The ungraded Rushaway Stakes just might have produced a bona fide Belmont Stakes contender in Crop Report. Governor Charlie, winner of the Sunland Derby, looks like a decent prospect, ridden and finishing up as if much of the best of that group.
Therein lies the rub, the saying goes. The worth of that group with respect to the division’s acknowledged leaders is in serious question. The track record time of 1:47.54 is not a good measuring rod considering it was the third track record set on Sunday afternoon.
The Spiral is another matter entirely. It takes a good horse to win three races on disparate surfaces, and Black Onyx added synthetic going to his victories on turf and dirt. A scopey sort, he certainly looks the part of a good horse.
Fans and non-fans of the runnerup Uncaptured had better take note. Making his first start since November and racing a mile and an eighth for the first time, he acquitted himself well on every level.
He showed his freshness racing near the pace in perfect position early, raced between horses when rivals began their assault on the leaders approaching the stretch turn, was forced to move three wide at mid-turn to maintain his position as the eventual winner rallied to his outside, then continued very gamely to the wire.
The Spiral was an excellent comeback performance for a colt that has all the foundation necessary for success on May’s first Saturday--and if he continues to show three-year-old development in the Blue Grass…
The HRI Derby Power 10, Week 4:
1. Orb (39) O’Meara wants to know if Orb will become the eighth colt in the last 11 years to win the Derby based in the East. If not him, he’ll have plenty of colleagues. The anticipated pace in Saturday’s Florida Derby certainly will help him to maintain his perfect slate at Gulfstream.
2. Verrazano (32) unquestionably brilliant at sitting at the top of most polls, this powerfully built colt still has his doubters. They might fade from view if he does to the Wood Memorial field what he’s been doing to competitors to date. Tops Jicha’s 10--until he sees what happens in South Florida this Saturday, anyway.
3. Vyjack (29) undefeated and laudably versatile thinks Indulto, check out the video of his recent company workout last weekend at Aqueduct. Speed and power are a formidable combination and the battle of the undefeated in the Wood is highly anticipated.
4. Hear the Ghost (26), speaking of workouts, he had a big, strong one over the weekend out West and if he can duplicate his will to win which very much was on display in the San Felipe, the Santa Anita Derby will be alive and well in annals of Kentucky Derby preps.
5. Itsmyluckyday (23) is among other things, the only horse to ever defeat the juvenile champion. Beyond that, he is the fastest two-turn three-year-old this year on anyone’s speed figure scale. Had a perfect half-mile maintenance breeze over the weekend. Must run hard and fast to beat him in Saturday’s Florida Derby.
6. Shanghai Bobby (16) needs to be motivated in both his breezes and his races but when he is, he is hell to pay. Puzzling how little respect he gets from handicappers and horsemen alike. His Holy Bull was just what was needed to show his best stuff as the last of Saturday’s Big 3.
7-tie Will Take Charge (12) certainly showed Derby style when he swept up on the turn at Oaklawn Park and wore down a tenacious stablemate in the shadow of the wire to win the Rebel, his second stakes victory this season. Needs to show he can put efforts back-to-back.
7-tie Oxbow (12) appropriate that Wayne Lukas’ other major Derby player is ranked in a dead heat with his mate in the HRI Power 10. Indulto calls him the unlucky gladiator and O’Meara says he shows focus, class, heart and runs with reckless abandon. There’s little to add to those assessments.
9. Uncaptured (10) is back in the game. There isn’t a Derby aspirant that has as much Derby foundation as this guy and considering how he finished in the Spiral in his first start at nine furlongs, another eighth mile might not matter all that much.
10. Revolutionary (9) has shown that he needs no made to order trips to finish first but doesn’t need to demonstrate he can handle better and faster than he defeated in the Withers. Will get his chance to show that in NOLA on Saturday. Reportedly training great.