Friday, July 31, 2009

Royalty Returns (Weekend Preview)

G1 Haskell

Rachel Alexandra heads the lineup for the Haskell, which will feature four of the top ten 3yo’s in the country. (Rachel, Munnings, Summer Bird and Papa Clem) The question are…

1. Can Rachel avoid a speed duel
2. Can Summer Bird prove he is not a one hit wonder on a speed-favoring track?
3. Can Munnings carry his speed over a distance of ground?
4. Can Papa Clem put his abysmal last race behind him?

I like Rachel to win and decisively. Munnings might be the next great horse but there is a lot of class in this race to be trying something for the first time. The track should aid him in staying the trip, but I don’t think he’ll have enough fight late to turn back the leading lady.

Summer Bird will make a nice run late, but will run out of ground to finish second.

G2 West Virginia Derby

This is a two-horse duel between Kentucky Derby hero Mine That Bird and speedster Big Drama.

The connections of Birdie chose this race because of the lucrative purse and the fact that the track generally doesn’t favor speed the way Monmouth does. The plan might have backfired as the “other” Birdie (Summer Bird) drew into a race loaded with pace to make a run at, while Mine That Bird faces a small field with the primary speed being one of the most dynamic horses in the division.

I like Big Drama to win and win big. He is one of the most versatile and brilliant horses in the division and unless he has unforeseen trip issues he should run off with the race heading into the stretch. Mine That Bird is a consistent, honest, horse; but he’s about to run into a buzz saw. He’ll get no trip issues in such a small field, but making one deep run in a small field sounds disastrous. As disastrous as running second in a $750,000 race could be!

Have a good weekend everyone!

Saratoga Day 4&5

G1 Diana Stakes

There is no way I’d go against Forever Together in this field. She is a special horse and towers over her rivals in class. She ran second last out, but that was at a mile, a distance she is not best suited for. At 9 furlongs her closing kick will have a bit more punch. Note the electric bullet work leading to this race. The big dog is ready to eat.

The only other alternative for a price or upset is Criticism. Look for her to lead them around the track and steal the race is the favorite falters.

G2 Jim Dandy

This is really a rather stale edition of the Jim Dandy. Usually the race is dominated by one or two standouts, but this year we get a small seven-horse field filled with second tier types.

I’d be all over Saratoga Sinner if not for the 182 day layoff. With any type of useful prep he’d be the play against this group. I actually find myself leaning towards him anyway, but I am tempering my enthusiasm because the field can’t be that bad… can it?

Charitable Man is the “name” in the field. He of course ran a dull 4th as the wise guy horse in the G1 Belmont. I’ve never been a big fan of the horse. He does loom large in this field on ability, but the fact that he has not faired well around two turns in his career is troublesome.

Kensei is swift and appears to be improving with additional ground, but this will be his first start around two turns.

I’m leaning toward Warriors Reward for this race. There is a lot of speed and this horse will be closing in to it. He’ll need to step up slightly speed wise, but this is not a consistent field he is facing and the distance should embellish him and his style.

I’ll take Warriors Reward for the win and Saratoga Sinner as the longshot-upset special. (He’s not really a long shot in the purest sense of the word, but he is the fifth choice on the morning line in a field of seven)

G2 Fourstardave

This is a very interesting race and I think it will have several attractive betting propositions. Kip Deville’s presence in the field is great news for those looking to get a decent price on some of the other contenders. Kippy has certainly done more with his career than any in this field and if he can regain past glory he will loom large. With that said the old man hasn’t looked particularly great recently and he certainly is not a horse you can bank on. I’ll be laying against him confidently, though it would not bother me to see this guy perform to his ability.

For me the race comes down to Cowboy Cal and Cosmonaut. I’m selecting Cowboy Cal in part because I have a soft spot for the horse and also because the turn back in distance will be right up his alley. He’s never lost at this distance and I think he’s ready for another big performance. Cosmonaut has not trained that well leading to this and that’s a concern.

I’ll take Cowboy Cal for the win, and Justenuffhumor for the mid-priced upset choice. He’s won four consecutive races and has trained well coming to this race. He’ll get a massive class test here, but you have to step up at some point. Any improvement by him makes him a real danger. His race line may get him over bet though I’m afraid. At 6-1 or thereabouts though, fire away.

G1 Go For Wand

This race has little appeal from a wagering standpoint unless on the back end of multi-race wagers. This race is a chalk eating weasels delight.

The Godolphin entry looms large with Seventh Street and Cocoa Beach. Both have question marks but the play against for those inclined is the 9-5 Miss Isella. Seventh Street is coming in off a one length defeat in G1 company. Cocoa Beach is one of the best fillies in the land that is coming in off an unexplainably horrid performance. She cant be that bad, that quick.

Miss Isella is coming in off two solid scores in G2 company. She has never really run a bad race in her career on dirt and she has certainly picked it up from a speed perspective of late.

For selection purposes I’ll go with Miss Isella because she’ll be 2-1 rather than the entries 4-5 and if Cocoa Beach is not herself, she is probably the class of the field. Spritely is the upset play. She’ll look to wire the field in her first route.

Backtalk Scores In G2 Sanford

The race looked chalky going in and in the end the favorite did his part. Backtalk looked ripe for defeat with a sixteenth to go, but he called on his class late to dig in and get up to score in the prestigious event.

The sad thing is my "price" and cover in a light exacta, Nacho Friend, ran about as green as possible, preventing himself from really having a shot to get up late. On ability, he was as good as anyone in the race.

Where will the field go from here? Nacho Friend and Bulls and Bears have ability and will make a name for themselves. Backtalk is a tough, honest horse, but I think he lacks a bit in the brilliance department and am not sure how far heart and desire will carry him once he starts running into experienced, swift opposition. He is a young 2yo with room to grown though, so you never know.

For the sake of embarrassing myself I will keep a running tally of performance of my selections after each race. My "long-shots" are not necessarily selections or horses I would use but to be thorough I'll keep an eye on their performance as well. To keep tabs on the ROI, each selection will be based on a hypothetical $2 across the board wager.

Rail Tout Saratoga 2009 Selections
Win% - 50%
ITM% - 100%
Wagered: $12
Winnings: $18.70
Profit: $6.70

Rail Tout Saratoga 2009 Long Shots
Win%: 0%
ITM%: 0%
Wagered: $12
Winnings: $0
Losses: -$12

Thursday, July 30, 2009

G2 Lake George (Saratoga Day 3)

Fairly interesting affair for 3yo fillies on the lawn.

I've keyed on the G3 Boiling Springs at Monmouth, which has two of the short prices in the race, Mary's Follies and Kiawah Cat. Mary's Follies held off a late rally by Kiawah to prevail in that race, but I like Kiawah to turn the tables here. Kiawah is an emerging type from the Darley stable that looks poised to fire her best shot third off the shelf. She's trained very well at Saratoga and you have to figure the Darley barn will wake up at some point.

Mary's Follies is too tough and consistent to omit underneath but the primary threat for me is Consequence. McGaughey's got a useful one here who just might have turned the corner.

Euro alert! Missy Keller has come stateside for this event off a 4th place finish in a minor affair at the Curragh. She might be the only value in the race and worth fattening the exotics if the short turn around hasn't hindered her already iffy form.

Hot Dixie Chick Takes Schuylerville

Impressive run by the winner, though the track conditions had to play a part. The race unfolded fairly to form, though I had hoped Hot Dixie Chick would get pinned to the rail without seeing the light of day.

Wild Without Wine laid an egg missing the break, but she was putting in a decent run late before Decelerator lugged out and made her check. She likely finishes third without the interference.

My choice Beautician ran to form, though I think it was a tall task to overcome Hot Dixie Chick on the lead in the slop.

Click Here For Race Video

BTW, I will do my best to embed videos for all of these races here, though naturally some will not be hosted on youtube or the like. If I find the videos while the post is still on the main page I will update it, so make sure to check back.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

G2 Sanford (Saratoga Day 2)

I can tell you viewing the PP’s for this race wasn’t that exciting. The prestigious sprint for 2yo colts looks chalky. Unless you’ve got a hunch or some inside information, it looks like a better race to watch than wager.

Backtalk looks legit at 2-1. The son of Smarty Jones has won his first two starts, his last being the G3 Bashford Manor at Churchill. Those electing to play against him will probably point to the regression in speed figure in his second start, but it looks to me like he was very eligible for the bounce off his stellar maiden score. (Which could also be a concern for the co-choices Bulls and Bears and Enumerate) He’s put in some useful works leading to this and I like the fact that he’s won over the 6f while showing some tactical speed and an ability to rate. No lock, but he looks tough.

Bulls and Bears will get some play after a swift first out win. He’s certainly eligible for a big score here, especially if he improves off that performance, but I’m not sold on his price (7-2) based on that one race. He’s a boom or bust play since he is a major bounce candidate.

is really in the same boat as Bulls and Bears. Big maiden score, huge speed figure… short price. (3-1) This horse could be anything. I’d be slightly more comfortable with Bulls and Bears since he’s worked a little better leading up to this, probably beat a bit better at Belmont and has shown he can relax early and make one run. This of course means Enumerate is the play!

The second tier choices, Nacho Friend and Interactif, are also first out winners. The only difference between them and the chalk is speed figures. Nacho Friend becomes a play with the prospect of an off track. He might also be the one long shot worth a punt if you think he is not just a “mud” wonder. Interactif had a nice score in his debut and looks primed to run to his ability after his bullet workout leading to the race. That work is the angle for him.

Ill use Backtalk, Bulls and Bears, and Nacho Friend in some LIGHT exotic wagering, for action purposes only. There are bigger and better races to worry about on the weekend.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Spa Opens (G3 Schurylerville)

Saratoga is my favorite meet of the year. It not only attracts the very best the sport has to offer, but now with Keeneland and Delmar being run over synthetic tracks it has the distinction of being the only boutique meet run on a conventional dirt surface.

Of course Saratoga has a ton of big races for 3yo’s and up but it also has some of the best 2yo races in the game. If you want to start looking for the next big thing, Saratoga often will showcase them.

My plan for the meet is to preview and highlight each graded stakes for the meet. I’ll make the odd pick or two and host the replays here for those that missed them.

G3 Schurylerville $100,000 (Wed, Race 9)

This has a very nice, big field. (Typical for Saratoga) You can make a case for about half the field but my interest is focused on Decelerator, Beautician and Wild Without Wine.

Decelerator has won both of her starts and both in good company. She broke her maiden over the impressive Hot Dixie Chick (in this field) and won an impressive duel in the G3 Debutante at Churchill. Lukas has won this race a time or two (seven times to be exact) and she will be closing hard into the stretch.

Beautician was a very impressive maiden winner at Churchill over the useful Sassy Image (also in the field). She showed a lot of professionalism in the race and closed willingly after rating. The corresponding speed figure is the second highest of the field. She has worked brilliantly since.

Wild Without Wine
is the long shot play. For those not obsessed with 2yo racing and didn’t happen to catch her debut at Pimlico, you’d be deceived by her DRF racing line. Her line states, “green, passed faders” and Brian Mulligan of the Form states “nothing like blinkers and experience to wake a horse up…not exactly flattered by debut winner”. They didn’t see the race either I suspect. WWW got pinched at the break and then had a horse to her inside spill the jock, ushering her 15+ lengths back at the break in her debut. After regaining her composure she slowly got into the bit and improved ground willingly to finish a good third. The second place finisher did come back to break her maiden next out. In her maiden score she broke sharp and demolished a group of maidens at Deleware by over ten lengths. She has legit early speed and she should be rateable if need be.

I like Beautician over Wild Without Wine, with Decelerator up for third. The key will be Hot Dixie Chick from the rail. I don’t like uncertainty with 2yo races and this filly has never come close to breaking from the rail. She has not had to rate yet and if she has to be reserved or is impeded early you have to wonder how effective she’ll be. She has the speed to overcome the post, but I’m playing with the idea she will break off a step or run into some trouble. That will leave Wild Without Win on the lead and she should be able to hold respectably late without Dixie pressuring her early. (Of course its possible both Dixie and Wine break sharp and burn each other out, making Decelerator and Beautician even better plays) Beautician and Decelerator will make mid-late moves and I favor Beautician to be able to get the better trip.

*note, Albarado chose Hot Dixie Chick over Beautician for this race

Monday, July 27, 2009

Illness Sidelines The Rail Tout

Apologies to those that follow the Tout, word has it he's been under the weather the last week fighting off an undisclosed illness.

His scheduled posts last week were postponed after he didnt eat up after his last work and subsequently had a temperature. Dr. Steve Allday examined the colt and put him on a weeks stall rest and a strict regimen of bute. He should be back under tack by the start of the Saratoga meet this Wednesday.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Weekend Wrap Up

G2 Virginia Derby

Pretty weak edition of what was an intriguing race going in. The race lost its star power with the late scratch of Nicanor. (Injury) Battle of Hastings got up late to nose Straight Story, who was perhaps moved a touch too soon against the no hope speedster Afirmitaf.

The final time and resulting Beyer (92) tell the story of this race.

G2 Delaware Handicap & G3 Barbaro Stakes

I regret to say there is no video for these races because ESPN has seen fit to disallow embedding of their videos on Youtube. I’ve never quite understood the rationale behind this, as it only serves to limit the amount of eyes that will view their content. I’ll 'effort' finding them elsewhere, but to be honest neither race was overly thrilling.

Both races ere won in front running fashion. The promising 3yo, Our Edge, broke sharp, collapsed to the rail and never looked back. He set honest fractions throughout and responded with a nice rally to win the G3 Barbaro by 8 lengths. One has to suspect Zito will have him in the starting gate for the Travers.

Swift Temper stole the Delaware Handicap in stunning fashion. Unbridled Belle broke a hair slow and was never urged to the lead or to press the pace, opening the door for Swift temper to inherit the lead and set absurdly slow fractions. It's of little surprise she had plenty left in the tank to fend off a mild challenge at the top of the lane.

Acoma put in a puzzling performance, fading bad after chasing extremely slow fractions.


2010 Breeders Cup Sprint winner Fatal Bullet made a successful return to the track Saturday, dominating the Bold Venture Stakes at Woodbine.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Breeders Cup Race Revisions

There was a great article on the Paulick Report about the Breeders Cup budget deficit and their insistence to raise purses (and create races) to compete with Sheik Mohamed’s Dubai World Cup day. Obviously, the Breeder’s Cup is in no position financially to go toe to toe with the Sheik. Especially with the ruler of Dubai set to raise the purse for the Dubai World Cup alone to a reported $10 million. (Twice the purse of the Breeders Cup Classic)

So what should the Breeders Cup do to cut costs while still staying competitive? Frankly I think they need to trim some of the fat off the two cards, go back to one day of racing and focus on improving the quality of their signature races.

Below are a breakdown of each race, purse changes I would make and what races I would eliminate altogether.

The biggest race of the year. Its purse should remain $5 million.

The purse should be increased to $4 million. It’s the second biggest race on the card and attracts the most interest internationally. Its purse should be undeniable as to continue to attract the best the world has to offer.


Should be reduced to $1.5 million. In many was this is now our signature race because it’s the one thing we’ve consistently bred for. With that said there is no need for an extremely lucrative purse because it lacks international appeal and will draw extremely deep regardless of the size of the purse.

Filly & Mare Turf
Should be reduced $1 million only to keep interest up abroad. We don’t produce very many top class turf horses so the purse should only stay credible in the eyes of invaders.

Turf Mile
Should be increased to $2 million for many of the above reasons. I’d give it a more lucrative purse because we produce more natural milers than classic distance horses and it has real appeal overseas.

Should be reduced to $750,000. I’ve never been a fan of lucrative purses for 2yo’s as I’ve never liked bottoming out young horses before their bodies develop. The prestige will attract the field and the purse does not need to entice international horses that use this race as an afterthought.

Juvenile Fillies

For the sake of gender equality only, I’d reduce the purse only to $750,000.

Filly and Mare Sprint
Any filly good enough to be a short price here should be in the actual Sprint. This is a race that dilutes other events. Eliminate.

Juvenile Turf

We produce so few good turf horses that the idea of having a 2yo turf race is absurd. Perhaps if there was a legitimate series leading up to the race id say give it a $250k purse and G3 status, but it really should be cut from the card. Eliminate

Juvenile Turf Fillies
Even less appealing than the above race. Eliminate.

This is the only newly created race that makes any sense, sadly the way its been implemented with its lousy purse (500k) and laughable “marathon” distance (12 furlongs) has made it nothing more than an afterthought. The great Kelso is laughing in his grave that a marathon is now a mile and half. I say boost the purse to $1 million and move it to 2 miles.

Dirt Mile

I really wanted to eliminate this race. Last year was a perfect example of what can go wrong when you give horsemen a chance to duck, doge and posture. Legit Classic horses like Well Armed and Mast Track avoided the big dance fishing for easier waters in the Dirt Mile. This race deserves no significant purse or it will continue to dilute the Classic field. I have had a small change of heart in eliminating this race because there are horses that are legitimate milers and nothing else. For that reason I’d make the race a $500k affair and hope for a G2 status. The prestige of the cup should keep the field honest but this purse size would be a major detraction for horsemen looking for the easiest spot possible.

Turf Sprint
This is a non-core surface for us and is one of the least popular divisions in the states. The purse should be reduced to $500k.

Ladies Classic
The female equivalent of the Classic should have a big purse only topped by the Classic and Turf. Raise to $3 million.

Total Tally: $20 million

Projected Card
Race 1 – Turf Sprint $500k
Race 2 – Dirt Mile $500k
Race 3 – Juvenile Fillies $750,000
Race 4 – Juvenile $750,000
Race 5 – Filly & Mare Turf Distaff $1M
Race 6 – Marathon $1M
Race 7 – Sprint $1.5M
Race 8 – Turf Mile $2M
Race 9 – Ladies Classic $3M
Race 10 – Turf $4M
Race 11 – Classic $5M

Now, these adjustments wouldn’t save them a huge amount of money, but it would trim 3 million in fat off the bone and condense the card to races that for the most part will attract large, competitive, world-class fields. Then you also have the reduced costs of not having to pay for the extra day of filming and the associated costs of such multi-day programming.

Next week I’ll dive into the flawed “Win and You’re In” program and give some new ideas for the series.

3yo Top Ten

1. Rachel Alexandra
2. Mine That Bird
3. Quality Road
4. Big Drama
5. Summer Bird
6. Munnings (+2)
7. Capt. Candyman Can
8. Papa Clem (+2)
9. Charitable Man (New)
10. Fresian Fire (New)

No changes to the top five.

Pioneerof The Nile is retired with his career ending injury. This may sound harsh but there wasn’t a lot left for the horse anyways. He was always a cut below the top tier on a dirt track and he was never going to factor in the Breeders Cup Classic. With his pedigree (Empire Maker) he’ll have a nice life ahead of him covering mares for a living.

Musket Man is sidelined for the year with injury. His injury hurts the division far more than Pioneer since he was going to be a real threat in many of the big dirt races out east. Luckily he doesn’t have Pioneers pedigree and is more valuable running than standing at stud. He should have fun next year beating up what is becoming a laughable handicap division.

Munnings moves up the most with these injuries. He had a dominant, albeit easy time in the G2 Tom Fool with Fabulous Strike’s late scratch. He is looking more and more like a threat to be the best sprinter in the nation, though early word is they may give the Haskell a go. (Note, this was before Rachel was declared for the race)

Papa Clem threw in a clunker in the Long Branch yet still moves up two spots because of the injuries. For one, he is a better horse than that effort showed and you have to figure he will rebound off that start. Secondly there is not a lot of talent behind him.

Charitable Man and Fresian Fire make it onto the list. Fresian Fire is looking more and more like a one meet wonder and you have to worry about his ability to recover from his last two starts and injury. Charitable Man looks like a G2 type but he is in better form than Fresian.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Rachel Alexandra To The Haskell

Jess Jackson announced yesterday that Rachel Alexandra will next start in the G1 Haskell Invatational on August 1 at Monmouth Park. The $1,000,000 event, run over 9-furlongs will be her second start against male competition.

Her chief rival will be Belmont Stakes winner Summer Bird, who famously upset the "other Bird" Mine That Bird in the Test of Champions. Arkansas Derby winner Papa Clem is being pointed to the race, though you have to wonder what they'll do now with Rachel in the race, after their disappointing effort last weekend in the Long Branch.

This is a smart move by the connections of the filly. One, she is in great shape now, so why put off another meeting with the boys? If you've followed this game long you know how fragile these animals can be and sometimes you have to strike while hot. Also, the distance of 9-furlongs is ideal for her. Distance could be a great equalizer for her against the boys, but at 9-furlongs her speed should be able to hold.

Its nice to see that they are willing to test the filly with regularity. 20 length romps like her effort in the restricted Mother Goose last month, don't give anyone a real idea of just how good the filly is. If she is their heir to Ruffian like many believe, the Haskell should not be a problem. Luckily, they are giving her the chance to really prove her worth.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Weekend Review

G1 Hollywood Gold Cup

Rail Trip finally lived up to the hype. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Mr. Trip as he started his career strong with a handful of freakish performances, only to put two less than stellar starts back to back once he moved up in company.

Nice final time and Beyer. (111) This type of effort puts him firmly in the picture for the Breeders Cup Classic this October. Lets see if they can keep him together.

G1 Man O War

Gio Ponti has firmly stamped himself the leader of the turf division. This was another tour de force effort, which was his third consecutive G1 win, from distances ranging from one mile to a mile and three eighths.

Long shot Musketier impressed hanging on for second after setting the early pace.

G1 Princess Rooney

On again, off again Game Face ran a career best race in the Princess Rooney, getting the ideal pace and trip scenario.

Long Branch Stakes

There were other graded stakes of note this weekend, especially from the Summit of Speed at Calder, but I felt inclined to post about the Long Branch considering it featured the return of Papa Clem, in a race that is generally a prep for the G1 Haskell.

This was a decidedly poor race, with Atomic Rain winning a rather lousy race. Slow early, slow late, the race garnered an average 96 Beyer.

Papa Clem never ran a lick and hopefully this was the case of needing a race, otherwise this type of effort doesn’t bode well for him the remainder of the year.


Monday, July 6, 2009

Why We Watch (Weekend Review)

When the non-converted ask me why I love horse racing, I generally respond with the usual stock answers you hear on any NTRA commercial. “The Beauty, the power, the excitement.” It probably doesn’t provide the real answer they are looking for, but the truth is horse racing is something you simply get or you don’t. You either appreciate the beauty of the thoroughbred and their desire to compete, or you don’t.

Occasionally certain horses or performances will really illustrate the appeal of the sport far greater than words could ever describe. The G1 United Nations at Monmouth Park this weekend was one of those moments. It was, for my money, the most riveting performance of the season and embodied everything that we look for in a horse. (Speed, heart, determination and above all, a pure desire to run)

G1 United Nations

Presious Passion (I had nothing to do with the spelling of his name!) has been known for speed and uncanny stubbornness to concede leading the pack around the track. He has put up some dazzling performances in his career before. In the G2 Mac Diarmida he got into a ridiculous duel early before opening a ten-length lead down the backstretch, only to re-rally in mid stretch after the field looked to have him worn out and measured. Presious Passion has found a way to excite one’s imagination before.

Saturday’s performance was extraordinary, in its perfection. Passion broke with his customary flurry, opened the widest of margins on the field, lit the tote board afire with his fractions, and simply never looked back. This is one of those races where you know the horse simply “felt it” that morning when he woke up and was ready to dazzle. Not only was it a visually impressive performance, he also managed to break the course record by nearly two full seconds. Amazing indeed.

If this race doesn’t stir your emotions, check your pulse.

G2 Tom Fool

This race was severely impacted by the late scratch of the top sprinter in the nation, Fabulous Strike. Connections said they didn’t like the post, the pace scenario, the timing of the race and decided to look elsewhere. To what extent the 3yo Munnings played a part is unknown, though I think wheeling the horse back after a rousing effort in the G2 True North Handicap became a decidedly less intriguing prospect with his inclusion.

Munnings went on to win impressively and while he was beating older horses, the race set up quite well for him from a pace and trip perspective. He is a star in the making, but I hope we do get a chance to see him battle Fabulous Strike in the near future. What a race that would be.

Friday, July 3, 2009

3yo Top Ten

The Triple Crown is gone, but in many ways the fun just begins this time of year. Horses blossom, regress and ultimately stamp their long-term worth in the business end of the season. With so many pivotal match ups looming and culminating in some way with the Breeders Cup, I figure its time to start ranking the individual divisions again.

Now, most rankings focus on one of the two following criteria, accomplishments and projection. The former is zero fun and doesn’t say much. The latter is intriguing, but is difficult as not all of the horses are pointing to the same objective.

Early in the season the goal is clear, the Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown. So horses are viewed based on their ability on dirt and around two turns. At this time of year though, the divisions start to splinter and trainers start pointing their horses to races over their preferred distance and surface.

With the Breeders Cup being run over synthetics it adds another wrinkle, as some horses will not be pointing to the Breeders Cup at all.

So, my divisional ranking will based on equals parts accomplishments, projection and overall ability, with the projection angle being based on how they will stack up against their primary competition at their preferred surface and distance. (So a dirt sprinter will only be compared to other dirt sprinters etc)

I'll start with the glamor division, three year olds. A new division will be added each week.

3yo Top Ten

1. Rachel Alexandra
2. Mine That Bird
3. Quality Road
4. Big Drama
5. Summer Bird
6. Pioneerof The Nile
7. Capt. Candyman Can
8. Munnings
9. Musket Man
10. Papa Clem

Rachel has to get top billing. She is not only the top 3yo in training; she might be the best horse in America, period. She’s beaten most of the horses ranked and will likely rematch most in one or two summer classics. She’s earned this spot.

Mine That Bird
gets the second spot based on consistency and the fact that he proved the Derby was no fluke in the subsequent Triple Crown races. His style will lead to a lot of “close but no cigar” finishes, but he should be a factor in every race he runs in because of his dominant late kick. He gets a nod over #3 simply for being able to show up when it matters most.

Quality Road is the best 3yo male in the game in my opinion, but the question is will his brittle feet ever let him mount a meaningful campaign. As a spot starter here or there his ability will go largely unknown. The bad thing here is with his pedigree and G1 win, any future injury could have him on the fast track for the breeding shed. He is the division’s last hope for a genuine star and he could be the only 3yo in the nation that could give Alexandra a real run for her money. As long as he is in training and being pointed to something of note, he will be ranked high.

Big Drama is a real freak. He wins consistently and is perhaps the most versatile horse in the division. I think he could be the dominant sprinter in the game. (Well at least on dirt.. on synthetics who knows… who cares?) I get the feeling he could be jostled around between sprints and routes, not letting him entirely fulfill his potential in either. That’s the pessimist in me speaking, but I adore the horse and think he could very possibly eclipse anyone on the list if he stays sound.

Summer Bird is essentially Mine That Bird light. His ranking is based not only on the Belmont win, but his fast ascension up the ranks. He put in deceptively strong efforts in the Arkansas and Kentucky Derby’s after a maiden win. The horse has potential and the Belmont might just be the start of something more. He will loom large in the division if he can continue to improve at this rate.

Pioneerof The Nile is very tough to rank. He is a fairly accomplished horse and benefits from being able to stay home running over synthetics since the Breeders Cup is in his backyard. He’ll likely add another big win or two before the Cup and that will cause his fan base to slowly recover from the dismal effort in the Preakness. I still cannot rank him very high though based on a few factors. It’s hard to overlook the fact that he has not proven himself to be very fast. He also doesn’t figure to factor in the Classic unless he makes a drastic improvement over the summer. His grinding style, combined with a lack of speed will find him lacking in the Classic, which will likely be dominated by Euro’s that can close with a flurry. So, I cant really rank him much higher, as I see him beating a lot of nothing in California and then being drubbed in the Classic.(Hello stud duty!)

Capt. Candyman Can is one of the best one-turn 3yo’s in the country and he is arguably the most accomplished to this point. In a solid group of 3yo sprinters he would be tentative leader for some, but with Triple Crown would be’s like Big Drama and newcomers like Munnings and Hull pointing in the same direction, he’ll have to find another gear than what he has shown beating up on the second string in their absence.

Munnings was electric in the Woody Stephens. I elected to rank him lower knowing he is running this weekend in the G2 Tom Fool. On ability he could be better than Capt. Candyman Can or on par with Big Drama, but he’ll get a massive, and I mean MASSIVE class test against the best sprinter in the nation, Fabulous Strike, this weekend. If he can finish respectably here, he will move up the list.

Musket Man is a battle-tested horse that just finds a way to show up regardless of distance or the track. Granted his wins have been in lesser circuits, but he has been remarkably tough through the Triple Crown trail, cashing a check in good efforts in both races. This horse could be dangerous if he improves as a late 3yo. Any jump in ability could make him a dominant horse in the division.

Papa Clem is really Musket Man-esque except he won a signature Triple Crown prep. He threw in the towel in the Preakness unlike Musket Man and for that he finds himself a spot below him. With that said he is a tough horse, generally consistent and has some ability. He is another that could rise to prominence if he were to take another step forward in the second half of the season.

For the record, Dunkirk and other horses like Cash Refund etc. have been omitted because of injury and the fact that they will likely not be fit in time for meaningful races by the end of the year.