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.


This Game Tugs at Your Heart from Both Sides


“God help me I do love it so,” said George C. Scott as “Patton” in the 1970 Academy Award-winning eponymous film, as the legendary General surveyed the carnage remaining from the previous day’s battle.

On Saturday, simulcasters were left to their own devices to see what happened after watching Mike Smith dismount from the immensely talented, undefeated Mastery on the clubhouse turn following a tour de force romp in the San Felipe Stakes.

Fans could see Smith at the colt’s head as he awaited assistance before the camera turned away and all that remained was hearing track announcer Michael Wrona informing the crowd that Smith was removing the tack from the dark bay son of Candy Ride.

But there was one telling image from the replay taken from an inside camera where upon galloping out Mastery made a godawful lead change, awkwardly and desperately jumping over to his right lead at that point.

It turned out to be a condylar fracture of the left foreleg that will require surgery Monday for the Cheyenne Stable runner who had just won his fourth lifetime start without defeat, his third at the graded level.
Whether or not its career ending will be determined following surgery so no one, not even those closest to him, knows what the future will bring at this juncture.

The victory, Bob Baffert’s sixth in the San Felipe, was accomplished by 6-3/4 dominant lengths in 1:42.28. It was Mastery’s season’s debut in which he turned back serious challenges from two graded stakes winners, Gromley and Iliad, as if they were outclassed.

On the other coast, things could not have gone better for Tapwrit who was slightly less dominant than Mastery but ascendant in every way, taking the Tampa Bay Derby in a stakes record 1:42.36 by 4-1/2 lengths over courageous pace-setting State of Honor.

“It was everything we could have hoped for,” said trainer Todd Pletcher stating the obvious.

Saturday’s results wrecked continued havoc on HRI’s Derby Power 10 as we approach the time when the ability to step into the Louisville starting gate comes into serious question in the staff’s assessment of major Derby players. The poll results for HRI's Power 10, Week 5:

1-GUNNEVERA (41):
There is nothing for trainer Antonio Sano to do now except keep his $16,000 bargain colt happy as he awaits the Florida Derby, April 1. He is likely to return for his first breeze in preparation for the Grade 1 nine furlongs by next weekend.

2-Tapwrit (33): Is there such a thing as #2 with a bullet? Because, if there is, you’re looking at him. Ranked 7th in Week 4, he went from a promising Derby prospect to major player with a target on his back. We expect to learn of Pletcher’s future plans shortly.

3 [tie] One Liner (27): Pletcher Part II. Undefeated colt also was ranked in a dead-heat for third last week and does have questions to answer. Did he get it done strictly on brilliance when Uncontested threw in his Southwest clunker, or is there more to it? Nice dilemma to have.

3 [tie] Girvin (27): Made the leap from #6 due to the defection of Mastery and evidence that McCraken’s truly back 100%. Perfect-trip but strong gallop-out winner of the Risen Star, athletic and long-striding colt breezed half-mile in 49 for the Louisiana Derby, his fourth career run.

5-McCraken (26): Just missed a triple dead-heat for third where he was ranked last week due to recent absence. Good efforts by those behind him in the Sam F. Davis continue to flatter him. Worked half-mile in 50 1/5 Saturday for a relieved Ian Wilkes, who said the colt galloped out really strongly.

6-Practical Joke (24): Slipped from last week’s #2 due to inactivity and the what-have-you-done-lately nature of polls. Likely to return in Florida Derby, an event that got even more interesting after Pletcher announced that Battalion Runner is headed that way. Anxious to see this colt at nine furlongs.

7-J Boys Echo (16): As stated last week, he’s learning what the game is all about and could not have timed his development any better, and neither could Robby Albarado who got his mount rolling entering the lane after getting a perfect setup. The Blue Grass is up next.

8-Unique Bella (10): Clings to the eighth spot out of respect for her overarching talent and despite the fact her trainer maintains that he prefers running on May’s first Friday. Really disappointing, especially as It Tiz Well, easily defeated by ‘Bella’, returned to win Saturday’s G3 Honeybee at Oaklawn Park.

9-Classic Empire (8): We shall see eventually whether his return to the Power 10 was premature. Worked a half-mile in 48.95 in company Sunday morning, galloping out 5F in 1:01 3/5. "It was very important that he work today,” said assistant trainer Norm Casse. “We got what we needed so that we can move forward now.”

10-[tie] Untrapped (5): Risen Star runnerup got first run but tipped wide as Girvin saved ground. While no match for Girvin, Untrapped continues to go in the right direction just as he did in his sloppy-track LeComte placing. Energizer racehorse worked 5F in 1:01 Saturday, a final quarter-mile of 22.80 before galloping out in 1:14.

10- [tie] Wild Shot (5): He might be just an on-the-board type but did give Classic Empire and McCraken runs for their money. This year he moved prematurely in wide-throughout Sam F. Davis then given far too much to do in Tampa Derby despite pace setup. Not sure how well Albarado fits this one.
Also Receiving Votes: American Anthem, Cloud Computing, State of Honor


BETS ’N PIECES:
State of Honor deserves a little more love. For him to hold second after Tapwrit blew by was a sign of quality. Watched the opening half-mile of Tampa Derby alongside Normal Casse, who exclaimed “he’s running off.” That was an accurate assessment and the fact colt was still trying at the end showed class. He would improve with a target…

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Cross Country Grade 1 Double for Castellano
Shaman Ghost was extremely good winning the Big ‘Cap after finally reaching overdrive inside final furlong. The win gave shipping-in Javier Castellano a natural Grade 1 double after first taking the Kilroe Mile on Bal A Bali. Castellano’s Hall of Fame nomination last week seems to have ignited a spark. He’s been having a very un-Javier-like Gulfstream stand.

Props to Richard Mandella for getting 7-year-old Bal A Bali ready for a Grade 1 mile following a lengthy absence, and to Jimmy Jerkens for his patience with the quirky Shaman Ghost. Jerkens had the best line of the afternoon. When asked about Ghost’s drifting away from Midnight Storm approaching midstretch, he replied: “Maybe he was giving himself a breather.”

Masochistic disappointed as the 1-2Triplw Bend favorite but made a top try. Leading throughout, he was no match late for Doug O’Neill-trained Denman’s Call, who “upset the Triple Bend,” as described by Michael Wrona which begs the question: Where the hell did 7 furlongs in 1:20.96 come from? Whatever speed figures you consult, he was the slowest of the seven entrants, and it wasn’t close.

Quite a day for Jose Ortiz since he brought his talents to South Florida. Up north Saturday, Ortiz showed his confidence in Tapwrit, jumping into contention at mid-turn after timing the late run of Fifty Five perfectly to take the G3 Florida Oaks. Trainer Tom Bush has done masterful work developing the New York-bred filly, former rider Filiberto Leon putting the Get Stormy filly through her morning paces at Palm Meadows.

HALLANDALE, FL, MARCH 12, 2017
File Photo by Toni Pricci

Written by John Pricci - Comments (30)

 
 

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