J.N. Campbell’s NTRA Thoroughbred Poll Submissions: Week 8

Week 8 of J.N. Campbell's NTRA submission to the Top Thoroughbred Polls is here...
Week 8 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. It should make for another exciting season of Thoroughbred racing in North America!

Here is my 8th submission for this week’s Polls…

3-Year-Old Poll

1. ESSENTIAL QUALITY: In the Blue Grass Stakes (G2), this Tapit colt was faced with a challenging situation… a long speed coupled with an uncontested pace… Jockey Saez solved it when he found one more gear for the win; that effort cemented “EQ’s” place as the Kentucky Derby favorite…

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… like Medina Spirit, this Baffert runner’s chance in the Arkansas Derby (G1) is his to lose

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, again…

4. 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…

5. HIGHLY MOTIVATED: Chad Brown’s colt was well-backed against Essential Quality in the Blue Grass Stakes (G2) over the weekend; he didn’t disappoint for Klaravich Stables going around 2-turns for the first time; coming into the KYD, looks to be a Top-5 choice… more to do though…

6. ROCK YOUR WORLD: This turf-only colt converted to the dirt well for trainer John Sadler, and won the SA Derby (G1) in amazing fashion with Umberto Rispoli; comes to the Top Ten with much promise, but little experience; can he get the Derby distance of 1¼, will be the question…

7. REBEL’S ROMANCE: Unknown at this point if the “Other” talented Godolphin homebred will come to Churchill after winning this year’s UAE Derby in Dubai… Training superstar Charlie Appleby has options, and after 2 major dirt start scores, the “Boys in Blue” may want to keep this colt on the shelf

8. 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… 

9. MIDNIGHT BOURBON: Winchell Thoroughbreds and Steve Asmussen have a consistent entry for the Derby, who will probably make the gate after his performance in the LA Derby, running 2nd to Hot Rod Charlie. He has power and stability for a HOF trainer and accomplished barn…

10. MEDINA SPIRIT: What an absolute failure in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) on Saturday… Baffert’s colt was supposed offer a punctuating stamp on his Derby March; coronation cancelled, and even though he was 2nd to Rock Your World, one has to question his ability going into the KYD147; begrudgingly remains on the list…

Summary: This past Saturday was quite “Super,” as we saw 3 very different Kentucky Derby Points races—Blue Grass Stakes (G2) @KEE, Santa Anita Derby (G1) @SA, and the Wood Memorial (G2) @AQU. The till was churning, as tickets were cashed at an amazing rate, and simultaneously shredded, as favorites missed. The Blue Grass saw Essential Quality score in a hard-fought battle against Highly Motivated. In the Santa Anita Derby, Medina Spirit lost as the short-priced favorite, and Rock Your World rose to the top. And finally, in the Wood, Todd Pletcher and Kendrick Carmouche skunked the field, as long shot (72/1) Bourbonic $146.50 for a $2 bet came rolling home for the win. This horse remains off this Poll simply because it is hard to imagine his potential having never tried “stakes company” before. More to do… seems like a reasonable conclusion. The Arkansas Derby (G1) @OP and the Lexington (G3) @KEE remain, as the final prep point races on the long road to 147.

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 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. EXTRAVAGENT KID: Brendan Walsh’s turf sprinter finally broke into the Poll with a magnificent win in the AL Quoz Sprint in Dubai over a week ago. After running in States-side contests, and missing on several occasions, this son of Kiss The Kid bested Charlie Appleby’s prize burner—Space Blues; will be interesting to see where he appears next…

9. 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

10. 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

Summary: Little movement compared to previous lists; the Poll added Walsh’s Extravagant Kid since Brad Cox chose not to run his 3-yr-old turf filly Aunt Pearl at Keeneland. Walsh’s grass sprinter deserves to crack the Top Ten after that impressive international effort. We should see the gelding reappear as the year unfolds. With Arkansas Derby Weekend looming, an even more exciting event comes after that, when the Apple Blossom (G1) goes off, possibly pitting Monomoy Girl and Swiss Skydiver against one another.  

Breeders' Cup Classic Odds

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