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.

First Shake-Up in Kentucky Derby Power 10, Not the Last

The scores weren’t supposed to really change until next weekend and the one after that. After all, that’s what the Fountain of Youth, San Felipe and Tampa Bay Derby are for.

But a funny thing happened on the way to HRI’s Kentucky Derby Power 10, Week 3 edition; notably the Southwest Stakes and the Risen Star.

The only folks that may be vindicated by Saturday’s results are those who have been calling the Remsen Stakes a negative key race as Derby barometer. And they are proving right: First No Dozing, now this?

For Uncontested, at least there will be a chance for redemption in the Arkansas Derby. Yes, they will soldier on with the Southwest speedster despite his unwillingness for a fight at the top of the Oaklawn Park stretch.

There’s time to see whether he’s up to the chore, given that Hot Springs’ million-dollar signature event will be his third Derby warmup. Maybe his non-effort, after dominating the Smarty Jones, could work to his benefit. He should be much fresher next time out.

The same also may be said of Mo Town, who had no answer at headstretch in the Risen Star. Given that Johnny Velazquez was sneaking peaks back halfway down the backside, as if he were loaded, the heavy favorite offered nothing when it counted.

Fair Grounds, like Tampa Bay Downs, can be quirky and not all horses handle those two surfaces. That may be the case. But Mo Town had better run his eyeballs out when he returns to New York, or wherever he shows up next.

The bad news is that he will have to put it all together in the Wood, if Dutrow sticks to that plan. The Fair Grounds can be quirky for some but the colt loves Aqueduct. He certainly did Remsen day.

Will one-and-a-half preps be enough come May’s first Saturday?

HRI Derby Power 10 + 1, Week 3

1-MC CRAKEN (41) Undefeated, a track record winner first-time out at Tampa Bay Downs at less than 100%, has Derby style and he loves Churchill Downs. What’s not to like?

2-IRISH WAR CRY (39) Almost a dead-heat at the top and that would have been apt. Strong work Saturday at Palm Meadows, 5F in 1:01, galloping out in: 13 around a bend; a perfect move as both a sharpener and conditioner.

3-MASTERY (26) His performances speak volumes but his workouts shout loudly from Clockers Corner. Has a very long and very fluid stride and renders stopwatches disbelieving. Weren’t those open gallops? Has the wow factor. Can’t wait for San Felipe.

4-CLASSIC EMPIRE (23) Lots of respect from HRI staffers but the latest news is more troubling than all the fretting and balking. His declaration from the Fountain of Youth could not have come at a worse scheduling time. The abscess is taking forever to heal.

5 (tie) EL AREEB (20) Not only does he dazzle you on the racetrack, even if it comes over questionable competition, but he trains like good horses should. Recent fast work was accomplished as easily as one can while running as fast as he did. Florida Derby in play?

5 (tie) GUNNEVERA (15) Worked on Saturday but the move could not be timed due to heavy fog. Trainer Antonio Sano was pleased with the work—aren’t they all?--and he did run very well when the Holy Bull runnerup. Saturday’s sharper pace will be to his liking.

7-UNIQUE BELLA (15) Until she is declared from the Derby—she’s a Triple Crown nominee—she will remain a deserving member of this poll. An imposing filly, it doesn’t appear as if male rivals would physically intimidate her.

8-ONE LINER (13) Went from relative obscurity as an impressive sprint winner to relative big-timer as an impressive two-turn hero at Oaklawn Park. Does Winstar have any horses that can’t run? Still would like to see this one more time.

9 (tie) GIRVIN (10) Before visual analysts try to belittle his perfect-trip score in the Risen Star, please acknowledge that horses still have to go out there and run, which he did. Quite an accomplishment in only his third lifetime start. Had plenty left on the gallop-out.

9 (tie) GORMLEY (10) Yet another that continues to impress favorably in morning trials, albeit not as impressively as those ranked higher here. The San Felipe will demonstrate just how much there is there.

Training up a storm at Palm Meadows so much so it gave trainer Chad Brown the confidence to make colt’s 3-year-old debut in the salty Fountain of Youth. As another Derby two-prepper, horses need their mettle tested prior to the big dance.

Also receiving votes: American Anthem, Tapwrit, Three Rules

BETS ‘N PIECES: The impressive victory by Farrell in the Grade 2 Rachel Alexandra at Fair Grounds had to take some of the sting out of the disappointing effort by Uncontested in the Southwest. We’re sure Wayne Catalano is hoping Unique Bella takes her shot at immortality by running on May’s first Saturday, not its first Friday…

Certainly can’t blame Jimmy Jerkens for having Met Mile visions with Unified, an impressive winner off a long layup to take his 4-year-old over fast-finishing favorite Mind Your Biscuits in the G3 Gulfstream Park Sprint Stakes. He was getting six pounds from the G1 Malibu winner. To get to the Met, Jerkens likely would likely prep in Belmont’s Westchester…

Props to Barclay Tagg for having Highland Sky ready for his 4YO debut, his first start since last summer. Highland Sky, the fourth subsequent winner to exit the G1 Belmont Derby, could not have gotten a better trip from post 12 thanks to Paco Lopez, riding out of his mind right now…Gulfstream leading rider Luis Saez is scheduled to replace Cornelio Velasquez aboard Three Rules in Saturday’s Fountain of Youth, a much better fit for the speedy colt.

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, February 26, 2017

Written by John Pricci - Comments (18)


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