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.

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SOUTH OZONE PARK, NY, April 7, 2015: California maybe be dominating the top of the HRI Kentucky Derby Power 10, and everyone else’s list, too, but never before this late in the prep season have New York-breds been in such a lofty position among the Derby elite.

Maybe it’s all that love emanating from a recent return to Queens where yellow cabs are now an outer-borough lime green and 5-time NBA All-Star Chris Mullin is poised to bring pride back to his once storied alma mater.

And it didn’t snow over the weekend, so life here is good.

In any case, just a mention that there are two New York-breds among the HRI Power 10 with a third, Saturday’s Wood Memorial runner-up Tencendur, on the AEs waiting to break in.

Holy Funny Cide!

Named for the warhorse of King Charlemagne from the epic French tale “The Song of Roland,” the Warrior’s Reward colt was bred upstate and owned by Philip Birsh.

Birsh’s company owns Playbill magazine but it won’t be theater tickets that will occupy his time next month.

Instead--speaking of mythological horses--it will be tickets to the Pegasus parade in downtown Louisville in the days leading up to May’s first Saturday.

Tencendur ran himself into the big dance by making a much improved effort, middle-moving to the lead, looking the part of a possible winner into the stretch until Frosted, putting it all together, ran him down under confident Joel Rosario handling.

But Tencendur moved forward off his Gotham big time, running to his walking ring looks on Saturday. While his pedigree appears light on paper, he debuted around two turns. Indeed, he’s never sprinted in his five career starts.

Does this mean he’s a serious threat to Bob Baffert’s pair, Carpe Diem or, now, Frosted? That’s a reach but he did run his way into the Derby and might be more effective with another month’s maturity and a rapid pace up front.

Second in the Wood to the perceived unbeatable Empire Maker a derby dozen years ago, it didn’t hurt Funny Cide at Churchill Downs.

The HRI Derby Power 10, Week 5:

1. Dortmund (36): the unanimous choice in HRI staffers, is now being mentioned in the same breath as Seattle Slew, Smarty Jones and Barbaro as he enters the Derby never having been beaten. How do you improve on perfection? Quirky that Baffert’s Santa Anita Derby money finishers did better on the first Saturday in May than did his winners.

2. American Pharoah (27): Last weekend worked five-eighths of a mile in 58 3/5 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:10 2/5. On Saturday he breezed six furlongs in 1:11 3/5, last quarter in 23 1/5, and galloped out seven furlongs in 1:24. Go right ahead, you try to beat him in Hot Springs this Saturday.

3. Carpe Diem (20): Impressive is in the eye of the beholder but no matter how you categorize it, his Blue Grass was a step forward and he went under the wire in full stride with energy left in the tank. For his fans, which are legion, his effort left Todd Pletcher with plenty to work with in the next four weeks.

4. Materiality (18): As stated, impossible to improve on perfection. The question, of course, is whether he can replicate his Florida Derby form in a compressed schedule, trying to do what not been done since 1882. He’ll be making his fourth lifetime start in Louisville, just as Big Brown did in 2008.

5. Firing Line (16): Dortmund keeps winning and this guy’s stock keeps rising. He gave the division’s leader a better tussle than any of Dortmund’s rivals on Saturday. Worked a leg-stretching half-mile on 48 over the weekend. You don’t need much after going nine furlongs in 1:47.39, even at Sunland.

6. International Star (15): It takes a good one to sweep any prep series at a major track and that’s just what the top-ranked New York-bred in this poll did in New Orleans. As often stated, he can beat you from anywhere on the racetrack and over any surface. Probably will return to the work tab by the weekend. He doesn’t need much in way of preparation, either.

7. Frosted (13): After a relatively slow winter, had to be happy for the McLaughlin camp who put it all together with this Tapit colt who put it altogether Saturday in Queens. Got to like the fact that Rosario took him back, placed him on the outside for a clear run and took the Wood in Derby style. And it looks like there’s more there, there.

8. Upstart (10): New York-bred #2 here, he remains the horse that never fails to fire. The usually hot Derby pace can bring about a change in running style that just might suit this good colt perfectly. Might benefit from a good Derby trip rather than being the one forcing the issue.

9. Mubtaahij (9): Again, like the idea that the world class Mike de Kock is excited about a Derby run and that the challenge is no desperate pipe dream. Let’s see how he progresses in the five weeks between the UAE Derby and Kentucky’s and how he handles the surface.

10. One Lucky Dane (8): Got thrown into the deep end following a laugher and acquitted himself well with his Santa Anita Derby placing. But someone had to finish second and there’s a nagging suspicion that the 40 runner-up Derby qualifying points were more important than challenging an undefeated stablemate for the win.

ALSO ELIGIBLES: El Kabeir was going in the right direction at the finish of his third-place Wood finish, showing good energy through the wire. Monarchos redux?... If Tencendur didn’t make the most favorable pre-race impression on Saturday, he’s certainly in the conversation... Let’s see how Louisville native handles New York-bred #3 in his first Derby trip back home... Both Bolo and Prospect Park went well in their next start following the San Felipe but showed no sign of being in Dortmund’s league at the moment.

Written by John Pricci - Comments (11)


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