Division Rankings: Who’s the leading 3-year-old now?

May 23, 2019 09:53am

Despite War of Will’s impressive Preakness Stakes win, he's not yet taking over the No. 1 spot on my early list of 3-year-old colts vying for an Eclipse Award.

Maximum Security, first across the wire in the Kentucky Derby, still holds that position here.

But I can speak for many fans who rooted War of Will home in the Preakness Stakes. It was redemption at its finest for the son of War Front. Without interference in the Derby, he likely would have placed, if not more.

Remember, War of Will was only beaten by a little more than four lengths at Churchill Downs. And it cannot be overstated enough: It was remarkable he did not go down after being cut off by Maximum Security.

Could he have won? We’ll never know. Would he have finished closer than those four and a half lengths? Most certainly.

Elsewhere in racing, I know it's still two and a half weeks away, but let's continue the hype for the upcoming 
Metropolitan Handicap (G1). The June 9 Belmont Stakes undercard feature is shaping up to be the race of the year.

With the likely addition of two-time Dubai World Cup winner Thunder Snow, the Met Mile has it all.

McKinzie, my top-ranked older dirt male, is scheduled to run. Racing’s newest star, Mitole, is scheduled for it. Coal Front, the winner of the Godolphin Mile (G2), and the speedy Promises Fulfilled are also probable.

It is shaping up to be a fascinating renewal, and the race I am most looking forward to on Belmont Day.

Last, but not least, we have a  top-ranked horses running this weekend in Vasilika. 
She is scheduled to start on Monday in the Gamely Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita Park, with this a "Win and You're In" stop for the Breeders' Cup.

Some are still late to give this mare the credit she deserves, but I don't see how you could have her anywhere but atop the Turf Female rankings.

Vasilika's past performance line remarkable. She will be attempting to win her 13th
 race from 15 starts since claimed by trainer Jerry Holldendorfer in February of 2018. Already a three-time graded winner this year, she will look to add another Grade 1 win to her resume.

Simply, Vasilika embodies much of what makes this game great.

Given that, here's a look at all of this week's division rankings.

Older Dirt Males

– After two narrow losses to start the year, he broke through in a big way in the Alysheba Stakes (G2). Will likely go next in what is shaping up to be a stacked Met Mile.

Thunder Snow – Became the first to win two Dubai World Cups. He should go next in the Met Mile, too.

Gift Box – The Big 'Cap winner has turned into a star since his transfer to Southern California. Will run next in Monday's Gold Cup at Santa Anita (G1).

4.  Catholic Boy
– Lots of options for this guy, as he is good on either surface. Started the year off right with a win in the Dixie Stakes (G2) at Pimlico Race Course.

5.  Coal Front
– Winner of three in a row, including the Godolphin Mile (G2) in Dubai. He has put it all together this year and could appear next in the Met Mile.

Next 5: Core Beliefs, Seeking the Soul, Quip, Prince Lucky, Gunnevera.

Older Dirt Females

Midnight Bisou  Deserves this spot after already winning three graded stakes in 2019, most recently the Apple Blossom (G1).

2.  Monomoy Girl 
– While recovering from a mild colic scare, her 2019 debut is on hold.

Elate – No real excuse when third in the Apple Blossom. The Bill Mott-trained mare will regroup for her next start going a longer distance, perhaps in Churchill Downs' Fleur de Lis (G2).

She’s a Julie – Now 2-for-2 this season with a big win in the La Troienne Stakes (G1) over Blue Prize and Secret Spice.

Blue Prize – Ran OK when third in the La Troienne in her first start this year.

Next 5: Secret Spice, Wow Cat, Paradise Woods, Come Dancing, Escape Clause.


Maximum Security – Regardless of the Kentucky Derby DQ, this colt showed me a lot with a gritty and stellar effort in crossing the wire first.

2.  War of
Will – Showed in the Preakness that he is indeed among the best in his division. The Belmont Stakes appears likely at this point.

Omaha Beach – Had some bad luck with the throat issues causing him to scratch out out of the Kentucky Derby as the favorite but will be a fresh horse for the summer and fall races.

Game Winner – Was wide and bumped throughout in the Derby but came from nearly 20 lengths back to cross the wire in sixth, only be beaten by 3 3/4 lengths. May run in the Belmont.

 – Came running in the stretch, but fell short when crossing the Kentucky Derby wire in fourth place. We'll look for him in the Belmont as well.

Next 5: Country House,
Code of Honor, Improbable, Owendale, Roadster.


Serengeti Empress – Showed in the Kentucky Oaks that her bleeding episode in her previous race was behind her. When she gets the lead, she is tough to beat. Look for her next in the Acorn (G1) on Belmont day.

Bellafina  Her fifth-place finish in the Kentucky Oaks was disappointing for her connections. Nine furlongs may be a bit too far for the daughter of Quality Road. She will cut back to one turn for her next start.

Liora – Was the only filly who really got close to Serengeti Empress, and the move to add blinkers has clearly made a difference. But she's off to the sidelines due to injury.

Lady Apple – The Fantasy Stakes (G2) winner gave a good account of herself in the Kentucky Oaks with her third-place finish.  

Champagne Anyone – 
The Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) winner was just edged for the show spot in the Kentucky Oaks.

Next 5: Point of Honor, Jaywalk
Out for a Spin, Enaya Alrabb, Chasing Yesterday.

Turf Males

Bricks and Mortar – Another late move and another win, this time in the Old Forester Turf Classic (G1). The beat keeps on rolling for this clear leader of the division.

2.  Catholic Boy
– Although he may focus more on dirt races now, look for him to be back on the turf later this year. He is better on the grass.

Delta Prince – Nice win in the Maker’s 46 Mile Stakes (G1) in his last start.

Qurbaan – Ran a winning race in the Turf Classic at Churchill only to be edged at the wire by a half-length by Bricks and Mortar.

 – Almost got there in the Kilroe Mile (G1) at Santa Anita but was beat in a tight photo by the former claimer Ohio in his first start since the Pegasus. Monday's Shoemaker Mike (G1) is next.

Next 5: Channel Maker, Arklow, Stormy Liberal, Glorious Empire, Zula Alpha.

Turf Females

Vasilika – Dominant winner of the Royal Heroine Stakes (G2) last out, marking her 11th victory in her last 12 starts.

Sistercharlie – It’s May, and she hasn’t run yet. Her resume would normally be enough to keep her on top, but Vasilika has done too much to be ignored. Back on the work tab now.

Rushing Fall – Made her first appearance in a race this year a winning one in the Jenny Wiley (G1). Is now 7-for-8 lifetime.

4.  Magic Wand
– Has done  well running against the boys, most recently in the Wan o' War (G1), but still hasn’t won. 

5.  Rymska 
– Second to Rushing Fall in her last start, won the Hillsborough Stakes (G2) in her previous start.

Next 5: Santa Monica, Uni, Hawksmoor, Competitionofideas, 
Daddy Is a Legend.

Male Sprinters

Mitole – It will take an extraordinary effort to defeat this one, who's Met Mile-bound.

World of Trouble – Would love to see this guy go against Mitole and the others this summer. He has won on dirt and turf already this season.

Roy H – He had to be scratched out of the Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) due to a minor foot issue that showed quick improvement. Will focus on a return trip to the Breeders’ Cup.

X Y Jet – After two near misses and multiple knee surgeries, he put it all together to finally win the Dubai Golden Sheen, looking like a force on the front end.

 – Had too much to do when trying to close into Mitole in the Churchill Downs Stakes.

Next 5: Bobby’s Wicked One, Promised Fulfilled, Imperial Hint, Coal Front, Imprimis.

Female Sprinters

Marley’s Freedom – Still holds this spot despite her runner-up finish in the Humana Distaff (G1).

Dream Pauline  Easily took care of business in her first start this year, the Hurricane Bertie (G3). Champion Shamrock Rose was among those left her in wake.

Mia Mischief – Won her first Grade 1 race in the Humana Distaff.

Spiced Perfection – The Madison (G1) winner finished fourth in the Humana Distaff (G1) at Churchill Downs.

Selcourt - May not be as good as in the past, but on her best day sprinting is still near the top of this division. She scratched from last Sunday's Desert Stormer (G3).

Next 5: Spiced Perfection, Break Even, Amy’s Challenge, Shamrock Rose, Covfefe.


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Meet Chip Gehrke

Chip Gehrke has been with Horse Racing Nation since 2015 and currently serves as a Featured Writer. Based outside of Chicago, Chip can be found in the press box many weekends during the Arlington Park meet. The On The Air With Dr. Derby name originates from his local sports radio show appearances as an on-air racing expert. Now also a weekly contributor on FOX Sports radio's "The Fast Track," Chip can be heard giving his thoughts on the racing world every weekend.

In 2017, Chip was chosen to be a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association. As a part of the NTWAB, Chip became a voter for the year-end Eclipse Awards, something he takes very seriously. Some of Chip's favorite writings from the last couple of years is the best way to get to know him, along with following him on Twitter at @doctorderby.

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