J.N. Campbell’s NTRA Thoroughbred Poll Submissions: Week 18 ...

Week 18 of Turfwriter J.N. Campbell's NTRA submission to the Top Thoroughbred Poll is here... See where Brendan Walsh's Extravagant Kid falls ...
Week 18 of Turfwriter J.N. Campbell's NTRA submission to the Top Thoroughbred Poll is here... See where Brendan Walsh's Extravagant Kid falls ...

J.N. Campbell’s NTRA Thoroughbred Poll Submissions: Week 18

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association’s Top Thoroughbred and Top 3-Year-Old Categories are determined by weekly polls of the nation’s leading writers and broadcasters that regularly cover the sport. Eligible media cast votes for their “Top 10” horses, with points awarded on a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis.

The NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll is conducted weekly from February through the Monday following the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. The NTRA Top 3-Year-Old Poll is conducted weekly from February through the Monday following the Belmont Stakes, which concludes the Triple Crown Trail.

As a member of the turfwriting media, I will be posting my weekly contributions, and offering editorials about horses that rise or fall in the polls. You can look for a full list of the Polls at the following NTRA website. It should make for another exciting season of Thoroughbred racing in North America!

Now that the 3-yr-old Poll is in the books, here is my 18th submission for this week’s action…

Top Thoroughbred Poll w/Notes …

1. MYSTIC GUIDE: With a stellar performance in the Razorback (G3) @OP, that led to trainer Mike Stidham to ship this talented runner to Meydan for the Dubai World Cup (G1), which he won convincingly; awfully good performance under some challenging pre-race conditions in the paddock and on the way to the gate. Back in training, his conditioner has him slated to return in the July running of Suburban Handicap (G2) at Belmont. It will be interesting to witness that bow. Leading candidate to “win” the BC Classic from where we sit now …

2. LETRUSKA: Fausto Gutierrez’s ace looked like she was going to run out of her horseshoes in both the Houston Ladies Classic (G3) @SHRP, all the way to the Apple Blossom (G1) @OP; she did not disappoint, besting Monomoy Girl down the stretch in that last one. She spring-boarded into the Top Ten based on that gutsy performance. Then she took on some of the best in the division in the Ogden Phipps (G1) at Belmont. It was one of the highlights of the day. Now, moving forward she has the potential to be the favorite in the BC Distaff (G1) at Del Mar. If Gutierrez can manage her time over the next few months, then she can win that as well.

3. SILVER STATE: The victor in the celebrated Met Mile (G1) was the ultimate high for this Steve Asmussen runner. Jockey Ricardo Santana guided him home in impressive fashion against a couple of short-priced favorites. When you win a race as big as this one, then you have achieved something veru special. Most bettors thought Knicks Go would be the champ, but this seasoned runner proved them all wrong in the end. A special runner with a powerful kick, it will be interesting to see him emerge in the 2nd half of the year.

4. DOMESTIC SPENDING: Last fall, this Del Mar entrant came across the country for Chad Brown and was awfully good in the Hollywood Turf Cup (G1). After a winter layoff, he arrived at Churchill with hope for much success. Flavien Prat subbed in for Irad Ortiz, and he chased the Eclipse jock all the way to the wire. Sticking his horse’s nose just in time, it was a thrilling end to the TC. Then, Brown sent him to the Manhattan S. (G1) at Belmont. It was an impressive array of timing, power, and finesse down the stretch. Prat lived up to the billing, and he is the class of the division. BC Turf is the long game.

5. EXTRAVAGENT KID: Brendan Walsh’s turf sprinter finally broke into the Poll with a magnificent win in the AL Quoz Sprint in Dubai back in late March. After running in stateside contests, and missing on several occasions, this seasoned son of Kiss The Kid bested Charlie Appleby’s prize burner—Space Blues. After a 2+month rest, he will head to Royal Ascot for the 5F King’s Stand (G1). Ryan Moore will ride once again, against what promises to be a tough field. This runner is a testament to Walsh’s versatility, and his ability to train the best that is out there.

6. MAXFIELD: Some of the rumblings around Brendan Walsh’s outfit is that “Max” will be headed to the Stephen Foster (G2) at Churchill Downs next month. That would be an interesting play, and I am sure he would end up being the one to beat. That is, if Mike Stidham does not send Mystic Guide that way. If that is the case, it could be a whole different ballgame! Still, major ability with this one, and maybe, the best is yet to come …

7. RAGING BULL: What a nice win in the Maker’s Mark Mile (G1) at Keeneland after 2 previous misses back in April; the Chad Brown veteran came off the bench, and exhibited a strong turn-of-foot down the lane to win a race his connections have chased for some time; nice way to start 2021, to say the least… Now, we await his next shot, which could be Belmont or even at Saratoga … makes sense. One of the leaders in the turf mile division in North America.

8. BY MY STANDARDS: The Bret Calhoun hoss is one big horse. Once he gets moving, he can be a force to be reckoned with. The 5-yr-old out of Goldencents came off the bench in the Oaklawn Mile and won. That was impressive, especially since at the end of last year he missed in the BC Classic (G1) @KEE and the Clark Hcp (G1) @CD. Clearly this one is progressing, since the Met Mile (G1) was a quality effort—2nd. He easily outran his odds. His conditioner will have some major opportunities moving forward. Another run in the BC Classic (G1) is in order. Stay tuned …                                                                                                                                                       

9. COUNTRY GRAMMAR: Bob Baffert’s senior members of his barn are few and far between. With the retirements of Authentic and Max Security, he tried to reload, but it didn’t take. Others have tried to go forth, like Gamine or Roadster, but they do not seem to be up to scratch. This one, out of Tonalist, looks most promising. Last out, in the Hollywood Gold Cup (G1), the colt was superb. Winstar Farm has quite a talent on their hands, and I would imagine we are going to be hearing from this one later in the season. That is, as long as California will let Baffert run. We will see …

10. HAPPY SAVER: Few are undefeated, but this one is … Todd Pletcher had the chance to run this homebred out of Happy Saver along the Derby Trail as a 3-yr-old last year, but the timing never materialized. Late in the season at Belmont, the colt proved his mettle in the Jockey Club Gold Cup S. (G1) with a gutsy performance. Going to the pasture for the wintertime, he was back in training in the late spring, and won easily in his debut a couple of weeks ago … once again at Belmont. He should be gaining steam as the summer unfolds, and Saratoga seems like a target. Quality runner from one of the best outfits in the country …

Summary: The 3-yr-old Poll is in the books, so now the task at hand is to shift focus to the main Thoroughbred listing. That will be an interesting proposition, as the 2nd Half of the calendar begins. There are no changes for me in this week’s list, though we should keep our eye on Brendan Walsh’s Extravagant Kid. The 8-yr-old will have a run down the famed straightaway at Royal Ascot in the Group 1 King’s Stand. A celebrated race, over the years it is a fascinating handicapping opportunity. This year’s edition brings together a solid group. Walsh’s runner was awfully good in Dubai, so he has the chance to build on that moment. It should be a great contest to watch. If he can win, he may well vault to near the top of this ever-changing laundry list.

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