HRN Division Rankings: No. 1 horses strengthen their holds

June 13, 2019 05:52pm

With the results of this past weekend’s Belmont Stakes Festival in the books, these Division Rankings rankings saw some changes. But the majority of No. 1 horses only strengthened their grips on respective divisions.

The big mover, of course, was Mitole. Already the No. 1-ranked male sprinter, Mitole stretched out for the Met Mile and faced off against top older males McKinzie and Thunder Snow. After stalking the early pace set by the No. 6-ranked Coal Front, Mitole took over and held sway in the stretch to win his seventh race in a row. With his second Grade 1 win of the year, Mitole moves to the top of this division now as well.

In the Turf Female division, Rushing Fall narrowed the gap between herself and division leader Vasilika with her second Grade 1 win in as many starts this year. In the Just a Game (G1), she led throughout improving to 2-for-2 in 2019. We will likely see her next at Saratoga.

The Belmont Stakes win by Sir Winston did little to impact the 3-year-old male rankings. Maximum Security, who's back to the races Sunday, maintains his hold on the No. 1 spot, and War of Will, despite his off the board Belmont finish, remains second.

The one group that could go either way for me is the 3-year-old female division. While Guarana was impressive in the Acorn (G1), running off by six lengths over Serengeti Empress, it was still only her second start over a quirky, fast racetrack. Acorn runner-up Serengeti Empress, while inconsistent, won the Kentucky Oaks and Rachel Alexandra Stakes (G2) this season. I will give the slight No. 1 nod to Guarana right now, but I still feel that Serengeti Empress has a shot in the long run.

Elsewhere, Midnight Bisou furthered her stranglehold on the older dirt female division with another Grade 1 win in the Ogden Phipps.

It would take an extraordinary series of events to deny the No. 1 turf male, Bricks and Mortar, the Eclipse award this season. With his Manhattan (G1) win, he improved to 4-for-4 in 2019. He seemingly has an insurmountable lead.

Given that, here's a look at this week's rankings:

Older Dirt Males

1. 
Mitole
– Super impressive in the Met Mile (G1). So, will his connections try and stretch him out even farther?

2.  McKinzie 
– Came running in the Met Mile, but it wasn’t quite enough.

3.  
Thunder Snow – Ran a remarkable race in his first start since Dubai. He's the real deal and a serious player with more U.S. races ahead.

4.  
Gift Box – The Big 'Cap winner has turned into a star since his transfer to Southern California. He didn't lose much in defeat to Vino Rosso in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita (G1). Will run this weekend in the Stephen Foster (G2).

5.  
Vino Rosso – Finally broke through to win his first Grade 1 race at the 1 1/4-mile Breeders' Cup Classic distance. It makes him a contender here.

Next 5: Catholic Boy, Coal Front, Seeking the Soul, Quip, Gunnevera.

Older Dirt Females

1.  
Midnight Bisou  Has already won four graded stakes in 2019. Her Ogden Phipps (G1) victory was also her second straight Grade 1 win.

2.  
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 in Churchill Downs' Fleur de Lis (G2).

3.  Come Dancing
Runner-up in the Ogden Phipps, she won her previous two stakes starts this year by wide margins.

4.  
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. She too is a Fleur de Lis entrant.

5.  
Blue Prize – Ran OK when third in the La Troienne in her first start this year. She'll look to defend her Fleur de Lis win.

Next 5: Secret Spice, La Force, Paradise Woods, Escape Clause, Mia Mischief.

3-Year-Old-Males

1.  
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. He goes next in the Pegasus Stakes on Sunday at Monmouth Park.

2.  
War of Will – The Preakness winner ran out of gas in the Belmont but should be a contender in the big races later on this summer.

3.  
Omaha Beach – Had some bad luck with the throat issues that caused him to scratch from the Derby and miss time. He should be a fresh horse in the fall.

4.  
Tacitus – Again came running in the stretch of a Triple Crown race but fell short of Sir Winston in the Belmont Stakes (G1), where he was second best.

5.  
Game Winner – The Travers (G1) is his next major goal with a prep race to be determined. He's back on the work tab and, curiously, wearing blinkers again.

Next 5:
 Sir Winston, Country HouseCode of Honor, Improbable, Owendale.

3-Year-Old-Females

1.  
Guarana
The Acorn (G1) winner has been spectacular in her two career starts. The question is, can she keep this going?

2.  
Serengeti Empress – The Kentucky Oaks winner was simply second best in the Acorn but went extremely fast early.

3.  
Bellafina  Her fifth-place finish in the 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.

4.  
Liora – Was the only filly who really got close to Serengeti Empress in the Oaks, and the move to add blinkers has clearly made a difference. But she's now off to the sidelines due to injury.

5.  
Lady Apple – The Fantasy Stakes (G3) winner gave a good account of herself in the Kentucky Oaks with her third-place finish. The Mother Goose (G2) could be next.

Next 5:
 Champagne Anyone, Point of Honor, Jaywalk, Out for a Spin, Enaya Alrabb.

Turf Males

1.  
Bricks and Mortar – Has about as big of a lead in a division as you can get this early in the year.

2.  
Catholic Boy – Although he may focus more on dirt races now, I believe he is better on the grass.

3.  Robert Bruce
Ran a great race when second to “Bricks” in the Manhattan (G1). They could meet again in the Arlington Million (G1) later this summer.

4.  
Qurbaan – May have found the 10 furlongs of the Manhattan a bit too far.

5.  
Channel Maker – Got back into the win column with a gritty victory in the Man o’ War (G1) before an even fourth in the Manhattan.

Next 5: Almanaar, Catapult, Delta Prince, Arklow, World of Trouble.

Turf Females

1.  
Vasilika – The wins keep piling up with her latest in the Gamely Stakes (G1). It’s hard to envision her losing to her California rivals in this form.

2.  
Rushing Fall – Won her second straight Grade 1 of the year in the Just a Game at Belmont Park.

3.  
Magic Wand – Has done well running against the boys, most recently in the Wan o' War, but still hasn’t won. We might see her next week at Royal Ascot.

4.  
Rymska – Second to Rushing Fall and Vasilika in her last two starts, she won the Hillsborough Stakes (G2) before that.

5.  
Santa Monica – Winner of her last two starts, the Sheepshead Bay Stakes (G2) and the Orchid Stakes (G3). Another on trainer Chad Brown’s loaded roster.

Next 5: Hawksmoor, Competitionofideas, Beau Recall, Mitchell Road, Daddy Is a Legend.

Male Sprinters

1.  
Mitole – It will take an extraordinary effort to defeat this one in a sprint. 

2.  
World of Trouble – Would love to see this guy go against Mitole and the others this summer. His Jaipur (G1) score made him a Grade 1 winner this year on turf and dirt.

3.  
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.

4.  
X Y Jet – After two near misses and multiple knee surgeries, he put it all together to finally win the Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1), looking like a force on the front end.

5.  
Whitmore – Had too much to do when trying to close into Mitole in the Churchill Downs Stakes. Will run in the True North (G2) this Friday.

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

Female Sprinters

1.  
Marley’s Freedom – Still holds this spot despite her runner-up finish in the Humana Distaff (G1).

2.  
Mia Mischief – Won her first Grade 1 race in the Humana Distaff.

3.  
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.

4.  
Spiced Perfection – The Madison (G1) winner finished fourth in the Humana Distaff (G1) at Churchill Downs.

5.  
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 recently from Santa Anita'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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