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.

HRI Derby Power Rankings: Orb Shines Brightest

Photo by Mike Sekulic
Flashback winning the Lewis
HALLANDALE BEACH, Florida, March 4, 2013---Time to join the rest of the racing world—literally--and post the first HRI Kentucky Derby Power Rankings of 2013.

I believe the first poll I saw this year appeared on January 3rd, making that exercise either completely sophomoric, prescient; or it was an extremely slow news day?

Everyone wants to be first on their block to say “I told you so,” as if there were some economic entitlement for doing so, futures wagers notwithstanding.

The HRI Power 10 is the combined wisdom of staffers Tom Jicha, Brendan O’Meara and myself, and also includes Indulto’s West Coast perspective, thereby lending sectional balance and giving Players/Fans a voice in the proceedings.

To be forthright, I’m as uncomfortable with this list now as I would have been two months ago but hopefully a lot less confused two months from now.

We all have seen the eventual Derby winner run, but the true winner has yet to reveal himself thus far. All anyone can do is take their best hold based on current evidence.

The problem is horses that have shown the most brilliance may have potential distance issues; those that have a mile and quarter within their scope will need a little more time to get there.

I suppose it’s always been this way.

Each member of the panel submitted 10 graded names: The second-ranked runner on the list received nine points; the third horse, eight points, etc.

The #1 vote getter earns 12 points, thus emphasizing each voter’s top choice.

Horses are listed in order, with the number of points earned in parentheses. Ideally, the rankings are a blend of equal parts accomplishment and potential.

HRI Derby Poll 1

1. ORB (39): “He’s really come a long way this winter,” said his Hall of Fame trainer, Shug McGaughey.” “Looks like Lasix has made a big difference,” said rival trainer and future Hall of Famer, Todd Pletcher. Colt staying in SoFla for the Florida Derby. Wonder if it makes more sense, re: Derby development, if he shipped to the Wood instead.

2. ITSMYLUCKYDAY (32): The fastest of his generation on the Fotias Energy Figure scale, and probably everyone else’s, when the measure is two-turn races at 3. Training up to Florida Derby from the January 26 Holy Bull may be problematical for that Grade 1, but is likely to help in the bigger G1 to follow.

3. SHANGHAI BOBBY (28): It’s annoying to hear handicappers knock a champion. Terrible horse; beaten by 2 lengths in his season’s debut in which the winner needed a record performance to do so. Many times the Derby is won by a 9-furlong horse that outclasses/outlasts the competition. This could be one of those years.

4. GOLDENCENTS (20): Once beaten in four lifetime starts—by the champion—he’s being brought along just like I’ll Have Another with those six-furlong bullet works for his next start, and his first since the Jan. 5 Sham. While impressive thus far, he doesn’t appear to be the second coming of last year’s dual Classic winner. Saturday’s San Felipe showdown with Flashback much anticipated.

5. VYJACK (19): This would be #5 with a bullet if there were a poll last week, as he’s virtually come from nowhere--or maybe that should be no-man’s-land on Saturday’s speed friendly Big A surface. Interesting that despite the impressive Gotham score, new rider Joel Rosario did not commit to a Wood ride. Long-striding and now versatile, the undefeated runner was a revelation this weekend.

6. REVOLUTIONARY (18): Horses will run slowly for three reasons; bad trip, slow pace or because they’re just slow. Bad trip? Check; things don’t get any worse than they were in the Withers, especially for a young horse. His task looked impossible. Slow pace? Done; an opening gambit of :24.20 and :48 qualifies. Slow horse? Hardly. Check out his maiden-breaking two-turn debut figure.

7. FLASHBACK (15):
As stated, Saturday’s San Felipe showdown with Goldencents is much anticipated. It wasn’t this colt’s fault that the dynamics of the Robert B. Lewis Memorial proved little. His company work--winding up between rivals and drawing away at the finish--was in a fashion more impressive than the Lewis. Colt has obvious brilliance and, ya’ know, Baffert calling the shots.

8. OVERANALYZE (12): The Remsen never fails to suck me in. Every fall I’m impressed by a juvenile that runs well at a mile and an eighth, and the following spring I’m disappointed when it turns out to be another negative key race. At least, Normandy Invasion had legitimate excuses. While his return very much was anti-profile for a Pletcher trainee, he appeared completely short of condition.

8. UNCAPTURED--TIE (12): Canadian champion is a Dual Qualifier. (Remember those?) Anyway, comes to the table very late as niggling issues has kept him on the sidelines. It’s up to Mark Casse to get him fit and there’s still enough time. But he must run soon and earn Derby points. One thing in his favor is that he loves Churchill. Indulto loves his foundation.

10. VERRAZANO (9): As Jicha explained, he ranked others higher because they did their best running in stakes. He also said he can zoom to #1 if he wins Saturday’s Tampa Bay Derby impressively. That about gets it. This is one dazzlingly brilliant colt. If he makes it into the Louisville starting gate and gets beat, there’s always Apollo to blame. Can’t wait for Saturday’s two-turn debut in Oldsmar; beware of alligators.

10. NORMANDY INVASION—TIE (9): If you’re a Derby fan and haven’t seen the Risen Star, get thee to a replay center, friend. We all know he apparently loves Aqueduct-by-the-Sea and now has a race under his belt. Trainer Chad Brown a big believer in the LAY-3 angle. The trainer will get his wish, provided runs well enough, at least second, in his quest for Derby points.

Written by John Pricci - Comments (13)


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