J.N. Campbell’s NTRA Thoroughbred Poll Submissions: Week 19 ... Campanelle scores after inquiry @Royal A

Week 18 of Turfwriter J.N. Campbell's NTRA submission to the Top Thoroughbred Poll is here...
Week 18 of Turfwriter J.N. Campbell's NTRA submission to the Top Thoroughbred Poll is here...

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J.N. Campbell’s NTRA Thoroughbred Poll Submissions: Week 19

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 19th 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. In the meantime, Gutierrez has confirmed the mare for next Saturday's Grade II Fleur de Lis at Churchill Downs. What a move!

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, and he can get there …

5. ESSENTIAL QUALITY: Brad Cox had many thinking that we might not see “EQ” until the Travers (G1) in the late summer at Saratoga. The discussions were reversed, as Belmont (G1) was put back on the table. Maybe some defections and/or the prospect of winning the last leg were just too inviting for the “Boys in Blue.” Cox predicted that “The Beast” would be a perfect fit for the Tapit router. He was right … The gray worked at Churchill and looked impressive, taking on stablemate Bonny South. Clearly, he was ready, going off as the favorite in the Belmont Stakes (G1). A bit of a slow start did not phase him, and Luis Saez kept inching him closer along the back stretch. A powerful move helped him catch Hot Rod Charlie, and soon he was blazing past him in the 2-path. A favorite move we have seen time and time again over the course of the past year. See him at the Travers (G1)?

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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. 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)?

8. 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 …

9. 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 …

10. CAMPANELLE: Wesley Ward’s accomplished sprinter came to Royal Ascot looking to notch another victory for his conditioner in the Commonwealth Cup (G1), and with Frankie Dettori aboard he nearly lost a squeaker to Archie Watson’s Dragon Symbol. If it were not for a few bumps down the stretch by jockey Oisin Murphy who was aboard his rival, the steward’s ruling would not have gone Ward and Co.’s way. After deliberation, the Dragon was taken down, and Ward’s prized charge was elevated to the winner’s enclosure. Now, moving forward, it looks like a stay in Europe might be in order. He makes the list after this proper “win.” The Breeders’ Cup may well be in his future once again …

Summary: Few alterations in this week’s Thoroughbred list … a few members did run, as we saw Extravagant Kid finish 3rd in the King’s Stand (G1) at Royal Ascot. Though that was a quality finish, it seemed appropriate to acknowledge the effort of Wesley Ward’s Campanelle, who was excellent in the highly competitive Commonwealth Cup (G1). A win there solidifies his position on the list, even though his next race could come over in the UK or in France. As for the other new "member" of the T-Bred list, it is of course, Cox's "EQ." He now has graduated from the Triple Crown Trail, and is moving on to the next stage of development. The "4th Leg" is coming in August at Saratoga, and it will be interesting to see his training schedule. Still much to do for this son of Tapit, as his maturity blossoms ... Welcome to the Top Ten fellas! 

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