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.

Don’t Worry, Run Happy

The final two races of the prep season were run Saturday, producing two more double winners in the Derby playoff series. In winning the G1 Arkansas Derby and G3 Lexington Stakes, respectively, Magnum Moon and My Boy Jack joined Audible as the only three winners of more than one 2018 Derby qualifier.

The takeaway is this: Horsemen have raised the science of ducking competition to an art form. In the process, thanks to an unusually talented group of three-year-olds, anticipation for Kentucky Derby 144 is building to such an extent that the contest will be the equal of the hype surrounding it.

The rest of the Derby’s annual magic is already baked into this confection. The very best of the Eastern-based and Western-based horses are now prepared to meet on neutral sacred ground, competing at a distance with which none are familiar. And for that, May comes awfully early.

Three weeks hence, this Roses Run edition is virtually guaranteed to be one hell of a horse race for its immense possibility; the depth of top talent making it so. By 6:30 p.m. on May’s first Saturday, the best of them will emerge from the herd an American equine icon.

Put another way, Tom Jicha, the best staffer any editor has ever had, amended his poll submission submitted after the Arkansas Derby with this brief note: “If the Curse of Apollo isn’t broken this year, it never will be.” And that very likely could prove more fact than hyperbole.

For two brilliant undefeated horses to come along in the same year would be rare even back in the day when foal crops were measured by the thirty-thousands, not the twenty-thousands. They may have bred more horses of sound body and limb back then, but not many as gifted or fast.

Proof this is so is right out there in current advertising that would create a contentious demand for the offspring of a stallion that, for whatever reason, made his bones the old-fashioned way; racing Lasix free. Its message is simple: “You can’t teach speed.”

Either way, today’s progeny has come a long way from the breed-the-best-to-the-best-and-hope-for-the-best philosophical approach to mating. In Justify and Magnum Moon, Thoroughbred bloodlines have created two perfect pupils--until the Sunday after Derby that is but, for now…

Seven races; seven victories, four for Magnum Moon, three for Justify. Whatever happens three weeks hence, true lovers of the game already have gotten their money’s worth. Will the next Big Brown step forward? Stay tuned and see.

Magnum Moon, from either on or near the pace, gets stronger the farther he goes. At least so far. As for Justify, who knows what more lies below that handsome surface. For both, especially the latter, no one will know for certain until next month. For the moment, the upside looks boundless.

As Luis Saez, the Quarter-Year Eclipse-winning rider, said in his post-Arkansas Derby interview, “It’s exciting.” Mike Smith virtually said the same thing after dismounting from last weekend’s Santa Anita Derby winner.

But let’s not throw cold water on the Lexington, wisely moved back one week so that it can enjoy a more sensible placement on the prep calendar. As such, there were two major takeaways from yesterday’s running on back-to-back Keeneland prep weekends:

My Boy Jack is an Energizer Equine Throwback that keeps coming and coming, relentlessly As for the talented, inexperienced, extremely game runnerup, Telekinesis, deemed a superstar by Mark Casse--no hyperbole machine--begs one question: Is there a Queens Plate Future Book?


1--AUDIBLE (37) How good is this class? Well, if perfection doesn’t earn you the top slot, what will? Will winning Derby trend of undefeated sophomore prep campaigns continue?

2--JUSTIFY (32) Perfection, Potential, be thy names? Or will it be the inexperience to deal in a 20-horse herd?

3--GOOD MAGIC (31) Blue Grass performance signaled trainer’s extraordinary run at Keeneland Spring. Doesn’t seem to need carrying his racetrack around.

4--MENDOLSSOHN (30) He’s not undefeated but needs to prove he belongs with this group on dirt. Laudably versatile and proven successful shipper to U.S.

5--MAGNUM MOON (26) Somewhat surprised he’s not a notch or two higher, then my vote carries as much weight as anyone else’s here.

6--VINO ROSSO (22) Buzz following his Wood victory indicates he may be one of the wise-guy horses of Derby 144. Owns Derby style.

7--BOLT D’ORO (18) Will he peak as promised in three weeks, or did he already peak at 2? That is the question.

8--NOBLE INDY (13) Whatever happens three weeks hence, credit Mr. Pletcher for landing four members of the Power 10. Pedigree is one thing; performance is another.

9--QUIP (9) Continues to engender interest is due to his lower profile and because he showed up each he was asked to perform this year despite challenging circumstances.

10--ENTICED (6) Stock fell after his Wood placing but remains among the best bred 10-furlong prospects. A second turn helps big-time, but he may be post-draw dependent.

Also receiving votes: Flameaway, Free Drop Billy

Top Kentucky Derby Point Qualifiers as of April 14:

1. Magnum Moon--150
2. Good Magic--134
3. Audible--110
4. Noble Indy--110
5. Vino Rosso--107
6. Bolt d’Oro--104
7. Enticed--103
8. Mendelssohn--100
9. Justify--100
10. Quip--90
11. Flameaway--70
12. Solomini--54
13. Bravazo--54
14. My Boy Jack--52
15. Promises Fulfilled--52
16. Free Drop Billy--44
17. Lone Sailor--42
18. f-Rayya 40--UAE Derby runnerup pointing for Kentucky Oaks
18. Hofburg--40
19. Firenze Fire 39
< 20. Gronkowski > AUTOMATIC BERTH as European Road to the Derby champion
21. Combatant 32 (listed in case there are more late defections)

Written by John Pricci - Comments (4)


Page 1 of 1 pages