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.

HRI Triple Crown Poll Week 5: Somethin’s Gotta Give

When an irresistible force such as you…
Meets an old immovable object like me

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., March 27—There surely were some talented three-year-old colts on display Saturday at Fair Grounds, especially Gun Runner, but this week’s poll is all about next week’s poll:

Mohaymen is and has been #1 since the 2016 Derby Power 10 debuted five weeks ago. Nyquist has been either a very close #2 or has dead-heated at the top. But come Saturday, however, like the great Johnny Mercer once wrote, somethin’s gotta give.

The juvenile champion arrives at Gulfstream Park tomorrow. Mohaymen is safely ensconced in his stall 35 minutes north on Florida’s Turnpike in Boynton Beach. And Saturday’s Florida Derby promises to be, what? The biggest Derby prep ever run?

So, en garde, who knows what the fates might have in store
From their vast mysterious sky

First, some unfinished business. Here’s the skinny on the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby’s Big Three: Greenpointcrusader is going in the wrong direction; Mo Tom appears forever destined to find trouble and Gun Runner is very, very talented—and he loves Churchill!

And if he ever learns not to get a little goofy when he reaches the home straight, who knows how good he can be? The will, the stride, the connections are there. Correct lead change? Not so much.

Halfway across the world, Japan’s Lani—yet another Tapit--overcame a stumbling start to win the UAE Derby in game fashion over stout-finishing filly, Polar River. But we can’t take the Dubai-to-Derby path seriously until some three-year-old completes that parlay.

On the Oaks side, Land Over Sea finally got away from Songbird, overcame some midstretch struggles and pushed past Adore to win the Fair Grounds Oaks by 4-1/2 going-away lengths. It was a good effort by the fillies immediately behind; season’s debuting Dream Dance and rapidly developing Adore.

But in six weeks, win or lose in South Florida, Mohaymen and Nyquist or, if you prefer, Nyquist and Mohaymen, will be there waiting for any and all challengers.

Fight, fight, fight, fight, fight it with all of your might
Chances are some heavenly star-spangled night…

You can bet just as sure as you live
Somethin's gotta give!
Somethin's gotta give!
Somethin’s gotta give!

As anticipated, the Louisiana Derby shed some needed light on the Kentucky picture. Gun Runner proved convincingly he is the one colt in New Orleans whose chances should be taken seriously to upend the division’s leaders when the trail ends in Louisville.

But he needs to demonstrate a little more stretch-run decorum, making correct lead changes and such. However, he is handy enough and shows he has the courage to out-finish rivals after making the lead. Only tougher company will show how good he really is.

Meanwhile, Dallas Stewart, who has a history of making Kentucky Derby longshots outrun their odds, got a huge performance from Mo Tom’s stablemate, Tom’s Ready.

Losing ground early then running between rivals in mid-race, he finished resolutely for place, the effort good enough to earn 44 qualifying Derby points. And, now, HRI’s Derby Power 10, Week 5:

1-Mohaymen (42): Had his final Florida Derby workout Friday, a solid five-eighths in 1:01. Of course, he didn’t need much more and the move was quite solid as Friday’s Palm Meadows surface was a bit dull. As you read this, Kiaran McLaughlin is already back from Dubai.

1-Nyquist (42): Also had his Florida Derby blowout; five furlongs in 1:01 2/5. Of course, Saturday’s nine furlongs will be the juvenile champion’s second and final prep of the season, but between O’Neill’s quasi-interval training methods and the likelihood of reaching down deep to defeat Mohaymen, he’ll be quite fit heading into Kentucky.

3-Gun Runner (24): That was a dominating display he put on in New Orleans Saturday. Tactically placed by Florent Geroux, he kicked on when needed and separated himself from the group. Still, he will need to become history’s first horse to win the Kentucky Derby directly from Louisiana with no stops in between.

4-Danzing Candy (18): Speaking of somethin’s gotta give, this is one of the Derby’s speed types: Can he deal with Cupid’s brilliance and have enough in reserve for either of the top two pollsters? We expect the Santa Anita Derby to provide a meaningful clue.

5-Shagaf (17): His undefeated record speaks to his talent but he’s relatively lightly raced and virtually untested in top competition. Chad Brown will have to squeeze the lemon some in the Wood Memorial if he wants his colt at tops on May’s first Saturday.

6-Mor Spirit (12):
Finally worked to Bullet Bob’s satisfaction last week and the feeling is we’re going a see a sharper version of the colt at Santa Anita in two weeks. Our gut--and the trainer’s SA Derby history--says that this had better be the case.

7-Destin (11): Has certainly been sufficiently legged up with two runs at Tampa Bay Downs but scheduling dictates he will need one more prep. Hot Springs, Lexington and Queens are the options; thinking either of the latter two are the more likely destinations.

8-Mo Tom (9): Looking into the crystal ball, there could be a rider switch in this colt’s future. Certainly nothing wrong with Corey Lanerie, especially the Churchill Downs version. Let’s just say they’re not the luckiest team we’ve ever seen between the fences.

9-Cupid (8): Trainer Tom Amoss made several interesting points on last Tuesday’s NTRA conference call: One of them was that Cupid’s Rebel was much stronger than it appears at first blush because the horses that chased him early finished far, far back. Point taken.

10-Zulu (7): Second to Mohaymen despite inexperience and, with Florida Derby out of the picture, either the Blue Grass or Wood Memorial are the current options. You realize that Greenpointcrusader also finished second to Mohaymen this year, right? Just sayin’.

Also receiving votes: Lani, Outwork, Tom’s Ready, Whitmore

Written by John Pricci - Comments (0)


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