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.

Pletcher and Winstar Have 4 in HRI Derby Power 10, Audible #1

As prep days go, Saturday’s three-year-old trifecta was the kind magical mystery tour that makes this year’s Kentucky Derby one of the most anticipated in years.

The day began with fireworks, followed by the vindication of a champion, and concluded with a meteor on the rise. It bears repeating: This is one talented bunch!

With Old Time Revival running off and setting the table for the battle to come, Restoring Hope ranged up alongside of the Wood Memorial favorite Enticed.

As Enticed stalked the leader from long range, Vino Rosso--so bad in Oldsmar yet so good in South Ozone Park--began his move from well off a strong pace following an awkward beginning from the widest slip.

It wasn’t so much that Restoring Hope forced Enticed to rally a tad sooner than he likely would have preferred, it was that the dynamics allowed Vino Rosso to come along outside, putting Enticed inside where he appears uncomfortable.

The exacta finishers came together, pin-balling each other in upper and midstretch, Vino Rosso clearly the more egregious offender. Enticed did come out a tad but the winner bore in perceptibly, knocking the favorite off stride.

But the momentum and the top prize belonged to Vino Rosso, a decisive three-length winner. He could have been disqualified but that would have been more of an injustice than the interference he caused. Clearly, the best horse won.

Meanwhile, a funny thing happened on the way to Keeneland: The Aqueduct winter track broke out; snowy, cold and dank. But the prestigious Grade 2 played out against a sunshine background and the “best horse” won again.

This time, Good Magic was much tighter and Jose Ortiz knew it, riding him as he would the best horse. Ortiz allowed him to run away from the barrier, asked him to establish mid-race outside position before launching three wide on the turn before drawing off under pressure in deep stretch.

It turned out he got what he needed from the Fountain of Youth and trained with enthusiasm thereafter to become the first juvenile champion since Chief’s Crown to win Keeneland’s signature event, a perfect setup to Act III.

At once, Justify proved at Santa Anita that he is a special talent but raised some questions as to his Kentucky viability as one of the heavy favorites in Louisville on May’s first Saturday.

Because of a soft pace that compromised the kick of the crop’s protem leader, Bolt d’Oro, just how will the Santa Anita Derby stand up against other prep winners? Further, how will his inexperience will play in a 20-horse field?

But Justify’s brilliance is undeniable and, in his defense, playing the hunted was unfamiliar territory, as was the nine-furlong trip. He handled both assignments as the undeniable best horse. But his vanquished rival may be running out of excuses.

The expected shakeup at the top of HRI’s Derby Power 10—11 this week owing to a triple dead heat for the ninth spot—knocked Bolt d’Oro out of the top spot and put the target squarely on the silks of Audible.


1-Audible (38) Florida Derby winner moves to the top slot as Bolt d’Oro drops six slots. Leads the Pletcher contingent and will train up to the race.

2-Good Magic (35) redeemed himself with an authoritative win in Lexington. Chad Brown, showing respect for the Derby’s 10 furlongs post-Blue Grass, applies finishing touches in the weeks to come.

Tie-3-Justify (32) Vaulted from seventh into third as much-the-best Santa Anita Derby winner, the only horse to win the Grade 1 after only two lifetime starts. Mike Smith said the colt learned several lessons on Saturday; truth or jockey-speak?

Tie-3-Mendelssohn (32) Holds onto last week’s ranking to dead-heat with Justify. His Derby stock price was maintained despite his inactivity, perhaps even growing some after Super Saturday.

5-Vino Rosso (21) From out of the clouds he came, in the Wood Memorial and in his gusto return to the Power 10, vindicating his flat Tampa Derby performance.

6-Magnum Moon (20) Todd, Take Three. The Arkansas Derby awaits on Saturday but his 50 points places him squarely in the dance. Curses be damned.

7-Bolt d'Oro (17) How the mighty have fallen from grace. Mick Ruis has been preparing him for Kentucky. The pedigree is all there, but it’s his development that could be at issue.

8-Quip (8) Just who does Winstar think they are; some owner/breeder version of Todd Pletcher? Rich as Derby Croesus, the Arkansas Derby and Solomini awaits.

Tie-9-Enticed (7) Some, but not all the blush is off the Derby roses after his Wood Memorial placing. Connections likely would love to see a wide draw in Louisville.

Tie-9-Noble Indy
(7) Blinkers made him a man in NOLA, and his Louisiana Derby still the gamest prep performance of this talented class. He still has room for improvement.

(7) Canadian-bred simply shows up every single time. Five time winner might have given his lifetime best effort as the Blue Grass runnerup.


Top 20 Derby Qualifiers as of April 8:

1. Good Magic 134
2. Audible 110
3. Noble Indy 110
4. Vino Rosso 107
5. Bolt d’Oro 104
6. Enticed 103
7. Mendelssohn 100
8. Justify 100
9. $-Flameaway 70
10. Bravazo 54
11. Promises Fulfilled 52
12. Magnum Moon 50
13. $-Runaway Ghost 50
14. Quip 50
15. Free Drop Billy 44
16. Lone Sailor 42
— f-Rayya 40 (UAE Derby filly runnerup will run in the Oaks)
— McKinzie 40 (out of Kentucky Derby due to injury)
17. Hofburg 40
18. Firenze Fire 39
19. Solomini 34
*20. Gronkowski (automatic berth as Europe’s Road to the Derby champion)
21. My Boy Jack 32
$-Late Triple Crown nominee

Written by John Pricci - Comments (24)


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