J.N. Campbell’s NTRA Thoroughbred Poll Submissions: Week 7

Week 7 of J.N. Campbell's NTRA submission to the Top Thoroughbred Polls is here...
Week 7 of J.N. Campbell's NTRA submission to the Top Thoroughbred Polls is here...

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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 their 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 7th submission for this week’s Polls…

3-Year-Old Poll

1. ESSENTIAL QUALITY: Godolphin’s ace homebred for Brad Cox, scored in the SW Stakes @OP, that makes him my favorite with the hot L. Saez as pilot; with a little over a month till the KYD 147, the Blue Grass Stakes (G1) @KEE is confirmed for next Saturday…

2. CONCERT TOUR: romping for Baffert in the Rebel Stakes (G2), this colt vaulted forward with a 4+-length win; how good this inexperienced runner truly is… remains to be seen; if he stays in Arkansas for their Derby (G1), and wins? Sky is the limit…

3. HOT ROD CHARLIE: Doug O’Neill-trainee, who was exceptional in the LA Derby; his ability to ship, run longer, and putting a target out there, are all part of a Derby recipe; O’Neill is heading back to CD

4. MEDINA SPIRIT: ran a solid race against stablemate LIG in the San Felipe (G2); now, that LIG is out, this runner is hugely relevant to the Derby Trail, and might be the favorite to win the SA Derby…

5. KNOWN AGENDA: St. Elias Stable has won some G1 races, but nothing compares to homebred Known Agenda’s score in the FLA Derby (G1); Todd Pletcher is going back to the Derby after that signature win; list climber based on that effort

6. RISK TAKING: impressive win in the Withers @AQU for Chad Brown; late running ability appears his greatest asset; layoff since that last race is a mild concern as the Wood Memorial coming next weekend…

7. MIDNIGHT BOURBON: Winchell Thoroughbreds and Steve Asmussen have a consistent entry for the Derby who will probably make the starting gate after his performance in the LA Derby, running 2nd to Hot Rod Charlie…

8. WEYBURN: Jimmy Jerkens’ colt surprised everyone after that score in the Gotham Stakes (G3); now the waters get deeper as he heads to the Wood Memorial; his breeding speaks to distance, but will he be able to win against a well-matched field? Wait and see arrives next Saturday…

9. TRAVEL COLUMN: this filly is the lone female on my list; she exhibited strong acceleration in the Fair Grounds Oaks putting away a rival; she is well-bred out of Frosted, and trainer Brad Cox has brought her along to be ready to handle the KY Oaks; could Cox have a Derby-Oaks double? Hmm… 

10. GREATEST HONOUR: Shug McGaughey’s colt wowed the throngs in the FOY @GP with a late-running move; however, the FLA Derby (G1) was a step back with 3rd Place finish; still, can make the Derby based on previous wins and remains a threat…

Summary: The Derby Trail to the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby enters its final weeks. The Florida Derby saw Greatest Honour fall, and Known Agenda rise, as the St. Elias colt took control of the race at the top of the stretch. Now, we turn towards a trio of major races, as Keeneland opens its Spring Meet this coming Friday. The Blue Grass, Santa Anita Derby, and Wood Memorial are all on deck. My leading Derby contender Essential Quality has the opportunity to cement his status as the KYD favorite as he returns to where he won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Another storyline that is developing is Godolphin’s win in the UAE Derby @Meydan with Rebel’s Romance who is trained by Charlie Appleby. The question is, do the “Boys in Blue” send that colt, who just earned 100 KYD Points, to Louisville to run against Essential Quality? Curiouser and curiouser…  

Kentucky Derby Odds

Top Thoroughbred Poll

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; next will be a major challenge in the OP Apple Blossom (G1)

2. MYSTIC GUIDE: stellar performance in the Razorback (G3) @OP led to shipping into Meydan for the Dubai World Cup (G1), which he won convincingly for Mike Stidham; awfully good performance, but I would like to see him against an even better field, then he could take the top spot in the Rankings…

3. SWISS SKYDIVER: Team Callahan-McPeek-Albarado shipped out for this filly’s 1st start of 2021, and she smoked the field in the Beholder (G1); now bigger, stronger, and more muscular, she is poised for a march back to the BC; rematch coming… Monomoy v. Skydiver II in the Apple Blossom (G1) @OP

4. COLONEL LIAM: lived up to the hype in the Muniz Mem. (G2) @FG by rolling down the turf and just obliterating a nice field; Pletcher has what might be his greatest turf horse since English Channel with 2 major wins in 2021

5. CHARLATAN: Bob Baffert’s newly-minted 4-yr-old was the Saudi Cup (G1) 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 his gas too early. Still, Charlatan remains a top BC Classic contender… 

6. SHEDARESTHEDEVIL: she was super sharp coming off the bench @OP in the Azeri (G2) against a small, but strong field that included rival Letruska; Brad Cox’s tactics to go to the lead made the difference; Grade 1, $500,000 La Troienne @CD on April 30 is next…

7. KNICKS GO: The front-running speedster was challenged by Charlatan early in the Saudi Cup (G1) 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?

8. MAXFIELD: even though the Big ‘Cap (G1) @SA did not yield a win, “Max” still remains relevant to this poll; shipping into that race was extremely tough, so heading back East for Walsh seems in order

9. MICHELINE: even though Mike Stidham’s runner has claustrophobia and has to travel with her own portable stall, she can rate and win as she did off the bench in the Hillsborough (G2) @TAM; her 2021 is shaping up nicely for Godolphin... nothing wrong with a challenging psyche

10. AUNT PEARL: back in training for Brad Cox, she is pointing to a possible debut at Keeneland; deserves to be on the list after an undefeated 2-yr-old campaign that culminated in her win in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf—returning to the scene of her ascendancy…

Summary: Mike Stidham and Luis Saez took Dubai by storm, winning the World Cup (G1) in fine fashion. Even though that field was not top-notch, it was a significant win for the Godolphin-owned 4-yr-old. He may not take the top spot from Monomoy Girl, who is readying herself for what looks like the most-challenging race of her career in the Apple Blossom (G1). There she is sure to meet up again with Swiss Skydiver, if Trainer McPeek chooses to send her there. With Keeneland’s Spring Meet looming, other horses making their 2021 debuts will rise to the surface. This list will continue to fluctuate with Belmont and Churchill readying themselves for the opening of their schedules. It is going to be a raucous and exciting time for Thoroughbred racing!

Breeders' Cup Classic Odds

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