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 10, Week 5: Orb Shines Brightest

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., April 1, 2013—For Shug McGaughey, the long wait is over. He’s finally found a colt that can take him to the bluegrass promised land.

And he’s praying that good things come in threes. After all, the Fountain of the Youth was his first victory in that race and last Saturday he finally got to break his Florida Derby maiden.

Two down and one big one to go for a colt that has been perfect as a tree-year-old.

“I’m pretty excited,” McGaughey admitted. “I’m just glad to see the horse take another step.”

One had to be impressed by the way Orb powered past Itsmyluckyday in midstretch, even if the latter might have been a bit rusty. And that power came at the end of a two-moves-within-three-furlongs rally.

John Velazquez took his foot off the accelerator after asking Orb to make contact with the leaders at mid-turn, not wanting to reach the front prematurely.

“[Orb] waits on horses after he makes the lead,” Velazquez confirmed post-race. Many horses don’t respond after the button is pushed a second time. For Orb, there are no worries on that score, moderate Energy Figures notwithstanding.

Such perfection has resulted in Orb being voted a unanimous choice for 2013’s best three-year-old as he earned the top spot in the Derby Power 10 as voted by HRI’s staff and players’ representative.

There’s no reason to think that Itsmyluckyday will be better in Kentucky than he was in South Florida on Saturday when making his first start in two months. Five weeks before the Derby looks like a good schedule.

As for Shanghai Bobby, he wasn’t very good on Saturday, but also had very little chance under the circumstances. It looked like Elvis Trujillo was determined to keep Bobby and Rosie in a box.

Consequently, Shanghai Bobby never got a chance to relax. It was no surprise when he offered nothing after being asked to go from a pull to a drive. And now, as it turns out, he will be given some down time while the outfit regroups.

The division that has been racing in recent weeks has begun to separate itself at the top while the bottom of the Derby Power 10 has remained fluid. Week 5 results:

1-Orb (48) came out of the Florida Derby in excellent form and now the truly hard part—the waiting—starts. It will be up to McGaughey to keep Orb right where he is condition-wise and sharpen his speed. Team will leave for Kentucky in about a week’s time, with or without Velazquez.

2-Verrazano (31) had “another excellent work and a strong gallop-out” according to trainer Todd Pletcher, who is shipping the undefeated colt to New York on Wednesday for Saturday’s Wood Memorial. Has enough qualifying points and doesn’t need the race—but that didn’t slow down Orb any. Does Johnny land here next month?

3-Revolutionary (27) continues to be the most visually impressive sophomore in terms of his winning trips; broken-field running to win the Withers then employing a keep-me-out-of-trouble wide, sustained rally to win the Louisiana Derby. Would not be denied from behind when Mylute stuck his neck in front a sixteenth from home.

4-Vyjack (25-tie) has impressed with his push-button professionalism in both recent company works, especially the one two-back with a talented sprinter that this undefeated runner handled in hand with energy in reserve. Showed versatility—and a big kick—taking the Gotham.

4-Hear the Ghost (25-tie) is a dangerous late developer in talented hands that made sustained and lengthy late run to win the San Felipe when pace-aided. Has trained with purpose and Saturday’s Santa Anita Derby is interesting in that it will determine whether this guy can sustain his run going nine furlongs.

6-Will Take Charge (15-tie) showed excellent late kick and winning Derby style taking the Rebel narrowly from over-aggressively handle stablemate Oxbow, but there may be a lot more to him than meets the eye here. Throwback type could be a huge price Derby day, providing he passes Arkansas Derby test in reasonable fashion.

6-Itsmyluckyday (15-tie) is a very fast, accomplished runner that might slip between the Derby’s mutuel cracks due to his Florida Derby loss to Orb. He figures to be a lot tighter a month from now than he was last Saturday of we are to take Eddie Plesa at his word. No reason not to.

8-Oxbow (12) has a great constitution, is a real fighter that runs hard virtually every time and will be in every contest in which he’s entered. Tough trips, bad posts, whatever, he’s had a slew of excuses but still wants to beat you. Pedigree with not be an issue on Derby day.

9-Flashback (8) similar to others in this group in that he’s not exactly long on experience but was finally tested going a mile and a sixteenth in the San Felipe and understandably settled for place behind a pace-benefitting one-run winner. But that effort figures to help him. Interested to see how he handles nine furlongs come Saturday.

10-Black Onyx (7) is certainly legitimate in that he has continued to show development this year and is one of the few horses in training capable of handling dirt, turf and synthetic surfaces. Kelly Breen is training him up to the Derby following his Spiral score--just like Graham Motion and Animal Kingdom?

Written by John Pricci - Comments (10)


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