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HRN Original Blog:
Zipse At The Track

Three-Year-Old Male Division Up for Grabs

 
For the second time in three years the Triple Crown was split evenly between three horses. Yesterday, at Belmont Park Dogwood Stables Palace Malice passed the Test of Champions in convincing fashion. Long considered a horse with great promise and potential, the good looking son of Curlin won for only the second time in his career. Winning a Triple Crown race by open lengths, while still eligible for a non-winners-of-one-other-than, is not how most horses do it, but on the other hand, his 3 1/4 length score in the Belmont Stakes came as no big surprise to many supporters who believed in the horse since his debut at Belmont Park last summer.
 
In defeating the Preakness winner Oxbow and the Derby winner Orb Palace Malice thrust himself into a leading role in America's glamour division. The decisive win leaves the three year old male division perhaps even more muddied than it was before the Kentucky Derby. While Orb was riding a major winning streak, highlighted by a strong win at Churchill Downs, his fourth place finish in the Preakness and his third place finish in the Belmont, brings him back down to a level of the rest. 
 
Oxbow, meanwhile, rebounded from a sixth place finish in Kentucky with a strong front running victory at Pimlico, and then a admirable and gutsy second place Belmont performance. The well traveled speedster has certainly proven his mettle in his last two efforts, but with a record of only two-for-seven this year it's hard to call him definitively the best of the crop. 
 
Despite not having won a race yet before yesterday, Palace Malice might be developing into a potential horse to beat in the division. Before the Belmont, he was a horse who strung together a series of excuses but yesterday the excuses ended as he put it all together in a big way. With three nearly equal leaders of the three-year-old male division, things are aligning for an interesting summer for the Derby, Preakness, and Belmont winner, as well as, several other sophomores who still might have a say before a championship is decided.

Also on the Belmont Stakes card, my winter-book favorite for the 2013 Kentucky Derby, Power Broker finally looked like the type of horse that I expected him to become this year. The Gary and Mary West owned and Bob Baffert trained son of Pulpit fought off a handful of early challengers and drew off down the lane to win the 1 1/16th mile Easy Goer stakes like a colt ready to move on to bigger and better things. Considering Bob Baffert's record in the Haskell, Power Broker should be considered a major contender for the million dollar race coming up next month at Monmouth Park.

If Power Broker is to become another of Baffert's Jersey Shore heroes, he likely will need to beat another pair of talented colts already pointing for the Haskell. After a disappointing fading place finish in Louisville, it's easy to forget that two time graded stakes winner Verrazano still only has one career loss. Prepping for the Haskell in next week's Pegasus stakes, look for the Pletcher runner to rebound in smart fashion. A win in the Pegasus should get him right back on track for a solid shot at Monmouth's signature race.

One horse already stabled at Monmouth Park who we can't forget about is the Preakness runner-up ItsmyluckydayDraw a line through his Derby and the Lawyer Ron colt has done nothing wrong in 2013. With home field advantage, it would be no surprise for Itsmyluckyday to gain his first grade one victory in the Haskell.

Several hours north of Monmouth, the Spa's own Chad Brown has been dreaming of a Travers win since the field crossed the wire in the Derby. With only three races this year and zero wins, Normandy Invasion, much like Palace Malice before the Belmont is a horse of unfulfilled potential, but the brief leader of the Derby is probably one of the most talented horses in the division. As a Saratoga guy, there may be no race that Brown would rather win, and in the lightly raced son of Tapit, he may have the colt to do it. Taking the Preakness and Belmont off may give him an edge when the horses who battled it through the entire Triple Crown meet him again in a few months.

Will one of these seven horses eventually take the division by a strangle hold, or will the three year old males continue to play musical chairs for king of the hill. I could see any one of the seven winning either the Haskell or the Travers, but then again, there's nothing wrong with Mylute either.


 

 

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Older Comments about Three-Year-Old Male Division Up for Grabs...

There has never been a champion 3 year old colt that didn't either win a Classic race or win at a classic distance. I don't expect that streak to stop this year. If a horse other than one of the Classic winners is champion 3 year old they will need to win the Travers or beat older horses in the Breeders Cup Classic.
Also, as wide open as this class is... if Rydilluc can take the Virginia Derby and keep rolling why couldn't he be part of the conversation?
I agree Verrazano still has to be part of the conversation. If he were to win the Haskell, stay strong, and take maybe the BC Dirt Mile he may deserve the Eclipse award for 3yo males. Of course who wins the Traverse, Woodward, Pacific Classic, BC Classic, etc. plays in. However, I'm not very optimistic about this crop of 3 year olds beating The Dude & Company
After thinking it about it, besides wanting to see Verrazano, Ozbow ran two very nice races in a row. His Belmont run under pressure was a very nice run.
Since last year the 3 yr old division was all said and done by the preakness, I am happy that this year will be a battle through the summer. I think Palace Malice will be the one left standing when the dirt and turf settles.
I'd like to see how Verrazano performs. No logical reason why he shouldn't be in the mix. I don't know why he was out of action but I look forward to seein him run.
I agree Ruffian. Probably the only one standing tall out of the 2012 Breeders Cup Juvenile. I also like Winning Cause to improve as the year progresses. There are alot of good ones that did not compete on the KD trail.
I've got my eyes on Power Broker. He's done great in his last two races and I think he's about to show everybody how great he really is in the Haskell and Travers
I've got my eyes on Power Broker. He's done great in his last two races and I think he's about to show everybody how great he really is in the Haskell and Travers
I'll go Oxbow
As of now Orb is still top 3 year old with his resume. Can't wait for the Travers.
30+ races left for 3 yr olds.
I think Crop Report in particular has the potential to be a pretty good one. Looking forward to his return to the races.
Once Mr. Palmer, Crop Report, Mylute, Departing, Zaikov, Flashback, Departing, Power Broker, Super Ninety Nine, Tiz The Truth, Z Big Apple, Whisky Romeo, Code West, Black Onyx and Red Rifle get back into the 3 yr. old Stakes races oh the rest of the year will be great
Stilll a lot of races left for 3 year olds
I thought both Orb and Oxbow ran good races in the Belmont. I still think that those two, now along with Palace Malice, are the best of the crop. It looks like the Travers and the fall races against older horses will determine the 3 year old champion, but I think it will be one of the Classic winners if they stay healthy.
Oxbow,Ord,Palace,Normandy,Itsmyluckyday....................who gonna take the JIM DANDY
Nice last sentence, too
It will be interesting to see how Verrazano rebounds in the Pegasus
I think that the 3YOs are going to keep taking turns winning the Haskell, Travers, and all those secondary Derbies around the country.

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Meet Brian Zipse 

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing since birth. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. 
  
As Managing Editor of Horse Racing Nation, Brian authors a daily column as Zipse at the Track, or ZATT for short, and adds his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Brian also serves on the the Board of Directors of ReRun Thoroughbred Adoption and is a Vox Populi committee member. 
  
A graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives in Suburban Chicago with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra, where he is a professional golf instructor when he is not following the horses.