Week 3 of J.N. Campbell's NTRA submission to the Top Thoroughbred Polls is here... Have a look!
J.N. Campbell’s NTRA Thoroughbred Poll Submissions: Week 3
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 our 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: https://www.ntra.com/news-media/polls/. It should make for another exciting season of Thoroughbred racing in North America!
Here is my second submission for this week’s Polls…
1. ESSENTIAL QUALITY: Godolphin’s Ace for Cox, scored in the SW Stakes @OP, that makes him the KYD Favorite at this point, Blue Grass or Arkansas Derby next…
2. GREATEST HONOUR: Shug McGaughey’s colt wowed the throngs watching around the country in the FOY @GP with a late-running move; vaulted him into the top spots, FLA Derby icing?
3. MEDINA SPIRIT: late move in the Bob Lewis @SA was impressive and showed major potential for Baffert duo; rematch with LIG in the San Felipe (G2)
4. LIFE IS GOOD: Baffert’s ace needs to improve and can after front running effort @SA in the Sham (G3); Jockey Smith thought he can do more, once again matched MS; who wins?
5. MANDALOUN: Cox’s now looks formidable after Risen Star score; LA Derby fav for sure, but will not be a foregone conclusion for 1st
6. CADDO RIVER: Cox’s 3rd power runner might be the most talented on this list; Rebel @OP looks feasible; was the Smarty Jones a fluke? It is going to be much tougher next…
7. KEEPMEINMIND: Robertino Diodoro held back his colt from the OP SW Stakes in hopes of winning the Mar. 13 Rebel S. (G2); will his fitness level be ready after not running since Nov.? Will see…
8. RISK TAKING: impressive win in the Withers @AQU for Chad Brown; late running ability appears his greatest asset; Wood Memorial seems logical
9. HIGHLY MOTIVATED: Brown’s benchwarmer who has waited his turn for 3-yr-old debut; stellar last fall in the Nyquist Stakes, now will go much longer on Mar. 6 Gotham Stakes (G3) @AQU
10. PROXY: Mike Stidham sent his colt into the Lecomte (G3) and the Risen Star (G2) and the results were 2 second-place finishes; next, with win in the LA Derby… he earns a spot in the KYD Gate for sure
Summary: This past weekend, Essential Quality solidified his No. 1 atop this Poll in my mind. Under tough conditions (rain, slop, competitors) he staked his claim. Likewise, Greatest Honour ran huge coming from off-the-pace to win the Fountain of Youth. Seeing these 2 go head-to-head in the Derby is already an inviting prospect. More will come into focus in the coming weeks, as hopefuls attempt to make a signature statement. How will the Baffert duo handle what looks like the race of the week in the San Felipe at Santa Anita next Saturday? It will be amazing to watch. Don’t count out others who may get overlooked.
1. MONOMOY GIRL: solidified her spot at the top of the heap with a strong performance in the Bayakoa S. (G3) @OP to kick off her Spendthrift/MyRacehorse career; she keeps getting better!
2. SWISS SKYDIVER: Trainer McPeek has slated her for a 2021 debut in possibly the Beholder Stakes @SA; Del Mar BC Classic the endgame?
3. COLONEL LIAM: grass performer who was a short price in GP Pegasus Turf; bested a good field that afternoon and will be one to watch as the Dubai Turf beckons for Pletcher’s grass specialist
4. MAXFIELD: talented 4-yr-old for Walsh who continues his undefeated streak w/Mineshaft victory @FG; sky is the limit for Godolphin home-bred as he points to the "Big Cap" at Santa Anita Park
5. CHARLATAN: Bob Baffert’s newly-minted 4-yr-old was the Saudi Cup favorite, and he failed to secure the win against John Gosden’s Mishriff. At such a short price, HOF jockey Mike Smith fouled out, and used most of gas too early. Still, Charlatan remains a top BC Classic contender.
6. LETRUSKA: nice run in the Houston Ladies Classic 400k (G3) in Jan.; should move forward off that performance and challenge Skydiver for older F&M route supremacy on the dirt
7. JESUS' TEAM: incredibly consistent at long odds along with Triple Trail last year; remarkable runner with a great backstory; could be headed to the Dubai World Cup
8. AUNT PEARL: undefeated turf router for Cox with a major set of early gears; will be interesting to see where she appears for her 3-yr-old campaign; not back in training yet
9. MYSTIC GUIDE: stellar performance in the Razorback (G3) @OP in the slop; Mike Stidham has a major player for Godolphin Blue in this division, confirmed for travel to the Dubai World Cup
10. KNICKS GO: The front-running speedster was challenged by Charlatan early in the Saudi Cup and he folded. No doubt we will see him down the road, as the season develops. Maybe getting back to Keeneland for the April Meet will be a smart plan?
Summary: Across all these divisions, the one horse that continues to stand out, time and time again, is Brad Cox’s 6-yr-old Monomoy Girl. A great as ever (6 wins in a row), her next campaign began with a flourish at Oaklawn Park. Thinking ahead, this list also includes the American contingent that is expected to contest for supremacy on Dubai World Cup Day. Much to look forward to, as that signature event returns after last year’s cancellation, and in general, more excitement to come!