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.

Records Fall World’s Apart

The process of separation this season’s Derby class began early in the early morning a half-world away and ended Saturday evening with a different kind of record breaker that by definition is incomparable.

The idea that Mendelssohn was a talented individual already had been established, but his performance in the UAE Derby was nothing short of jaw-dropping.

Behold: Mendelssohn is a winner on three different surfaces and he saved his best for last over Saturday’s speed-friendly surface at Meydan.

We have no idea what was behind Mendelssohn, but he beat the track record for 1-3/16s miles by more than a second and the competition by more than 18 ridden-out lengths in 1:55.19.

Much of the talk this prep season, thanks to Magnum Moon and Justify, has been of the 136 years since Apollo won the Derby without a juvenile campaign.

Maybe the time has come to consider whether this could be a breakout year for Dubai’s Road to Kentucky.

“Now we know he can get more than a mile,” said trainer Aidan O’Brien post race. Jockey Ryan Moore got off him and noted “he’s still a little green.”


In any case, three more questions remain: Is his ready for the competition he will face on May’s first Saturday? Is he the same horse if he has to eat some dirt and how will he handle the circus atmosphere?

Later in the day, Audible proved unequivocally that the worse he seems to work in the morning the better he runs in the afternoon. And unlike Mendelssohn, we know those left in his 1:49.48 wake were horses of some note.

But the truly suicidal early pace worked to Audible’s benefit and contributed significantly to the quick final time.

The impressive aspects of his performance was his 4-path blitz to contention from farther back than anticipated at the five-eighths and the second gear he displayed soon after straightening away.

In behind were Hofburg, an excellent second in his third lifetime run; Mississippi, a willing if one-paced third, and the disappointing Catholic Boy, who had a position edge but not the same kick as the favorite.

Records of a different kind were set Saturday, a fitting conclusion to this year’s championship session:

Total handle for the day was an astounding $49.9 million Total Handle on Florida Derby day, breaking the old mark by 63%. The Rainbow Pick 6 was a record $21.3 million—over $16 million of that fresh money.

Of greater sporting significance, it was a record fifth Florida Derby win by trainer Todd Pletcher and Hall of Fame rider Johnny Velazquez.

And, finally, with his victory aboard Coach Rocks in the G2 Gulfstream Park Oaks, a record 134 meet winners for jockey Luis Saez.

HRI’s Derby Power 10, Week 5 (poll points in parenthesis)

1-(44) Bolt d'Oro lost his dominant spread on top of the leader board but could be a unanimous #1 again with a victory in Saturday’s Santa Anita Derby. If he disappoints badly, does Javier Castellano get the mount back on Audible?

2-(34) Audible underscored his Holy Bull dominance in the Florida Derby showing an important well-off-the-pace dimension in comprehensive style. Interesting to note that he was positioned inside in his disappointing recent works. Is this guy claustrophobic?

3-(27) Mendelssohn went from poll obscurity to second in HRI’s Derby Power 10. The questions raised above linger, but the $3 million showed he has the tools. Does he remind anyone of Bellamy Road, who won the 2005 Wood Memorial 17 lengths?

4-(26) McKinzie developed a curiously-timed issue in his stall this week that will preclude his Santa Anita Derby run. There’s always Oaklawn Park a week later and this allows Bob Baffert to stay home with Justify, with one major rival to beat and a 40 Derby-points consolation.

5-(24) Magnum Moon shows that the rich are, well, rich. This colt gives Mr. Pletcher his second runner in the HRI Top Five. The undefeated major talent will have 19 rivals and a voodoo spell to overcome in Louisville.

6-(22) Good Magic is in the big dance with a Blue Grass placing Saturday but given his woefully-short performance in his sophomore debut, he needs a strong effort to defend his championship title on Derby day.

7-(15) Justify seems much more likely to stay in Arcadia with the defection by McKinzie yesterday although that’s not written on tablets this Easter morn. If he beats or is a very good second to Bolt d’Oro, Mr. Baffert will know he’s got the goods.

8-(12) Enticed has a lower profile than many of his famous rivals but there’s no question the talent is there. The Gotham winner already has enough points but horsemen know that this could be an exceptionally talented crop. The Wood’s nine furlongs is important developmentally.

9-(10) Quip obviously was talented enough to win his three-year-old debut in the Tampa Bay Derby, no small feat, especially off the bench. But the generally underrated colt has the talent to make an impression. What he shows next time will prove it, one way or another.

Tie 10-(6) Noble Indy give Pletcher his third runner in the Power 10 and more might be looming on the horizon. In what can be categorized as the gamest performance of the season in the Louisiana Derby, he hasn’t taken anyone’s breath away.

Tie 10-(6) Solomini has been featured here from the start, but his recent inactivity has lowered his profile. Given his style and proven two-turn ability, the Wood is the perfect spot for his final prep. He, too, needs to show he has enough brilliance to handle the bright lights of May.

The Top 20 Derby qualifiers as of April 1:

1. Audible (110)
2. Noble Indy (110)
3. Mendelssohn (100)
4. Bolt d’Oro (64)
5. Enticed (63)
6. Bravazo (54)
7. Promises Fulfilled (52)
8. Magnum Moon (50)
9. Runaway Ghost (50)
10. Quip (50)
11. Lone Sailor (42)
12. Rayya (40) *
13. McKinzie (40)
14. Hofburg (40)
15. Good Magic (34)
16. Solomini (34)
17. My Boy Jack (32)
18. Flameaway (30)
19. Firenze Fire (29)
20. Gronkowski **
21. Free Drop Billy (24)

* The filly Rayya will go to Bob Baffert barn off her runner-up UAE Derby finish. She is considered to be more of an Oaks than Derby contender, even though she has the seemingly required number of points.

** Gronkowski is considered a definite starter by virtue of his dominating the European Road to the Kentucky Derby.

Written by John Pricci - Comments (13)


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