Sunday, March 30, 2014

Shakeup at the Top of HRI Power 10

Hallandale Beach, Fla., March 30, 2014—For one brief moment, it appeared that once Cairo Prince showed his turn of foot three furlongs from home, his Florida Derby rivals were in trouble. As it turned out, it was Cairo Prince that was in trouble.

“Maybe the nine weeks [layoff] was telling on him,” Kiaran McLaughlin said post-race. [Luis Saez] said he got there and flattened out…”

The 10 points Cairo Prince earned for finish fourth Saturday gives him 24 qualifying points, putting him on the Derby bubble. “If 24 don’t get us in, then we don’t go to Kentucky.” Cairo Prince is currently tied at 16th.

For the first time since the HRI Power 10 was published six weeks ago, Cairo Prince not only dropped from the top slot but out of the top 10 completely, such was the extent of Saturday’s results here and in New Orleans.

The scores might really change in the next two weeks with the Wood Memorial and Santa Anita Derby on Saturday and the Arkansas Derby and Blue Grass the following weekend.

The Blue Grass hasn’t been the loyal predictor of Derby form that it was prior to the installation of Polytrack but the hundred-pointer still might produce a Derby starter or two and knock out bubble horses such as Cairo Prince.

Before anyone bemoans the points system that been in effect since last year, the playing field is level for everyone going in.

Whether or not Wildcat Red gets a mile and a quarter five weeks from now, it will do nothing to diminish his popularity with fans/bettors and the respect of rival horsemen. People love this horse.

Meanwhile, Vicar’s In Trouble received a brilliant ride for Rosie Napravnik, staying off the rail with her frontrunner in an effort to have him relax before opening an insurmountable lead into the stretch.

Despite never changing to his correct right lead, Vicar’s In Trouble, who trained at Gulfstream Park for Mike Maker, the Louisiana Derby issue was never in doubt.

Runner-up Intense Holiday also remained on his left lead, switching over very late, after drifting in badly when set down by Mike Smith. He easily held the place in a better-than-looked effort.

Forced to steady between horses a half-mile from home after being tip-toed into contention—not his best game—he continued on at the finish, an effort that should move him forward, all else being equal.

Third finisher Commanding Curve, unheralded going into the race, finished crisply for third after getting wiped out at the start and might be getting good at the right time. Currently, with his 20 points, Commanding Curve is tied for 18th.

After the weekend, three ‘C’ horses are perched at the top, fittingly two of the three are from California. #1 Candy Boy meets #3 California Chrome in Saturday’s Santa Anita Derby.

In New York, #8 Samraat will try to remain undefeated by winning the Wood Memorial. Nemesis Uncle Sigh, with the slightly tougher Gotham trip, will try to turn the tables.

Or will the brilliant Social “I Don’t Need Your Stinking Five Million At The Moment” Inclusion prove to be the freak many think he is by winning his third straight without defeat, this time going nine furlongs.

We fully expect the Power 10 to be shaken up again next weekend, and the week after that. This Derby chase is really getting chaotic.

HRI Power 10, Week 6:

1. Candy Boy (29)

2. Constitution (28)

3. California Chrome (24)

4. Tapiture (18)

5. Vicar's In Trouble (16)

6-tie Intense Holiday (14)

6-tie Hoppertunuity (14)

8. Samraat (11)

9. Wildcat Red (6)

10-tie Chitu (5)

10-tie Uncle Sigh (5)

Written by John Pricci

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