HRN Division Rankings: Rushing Fall gets true test in Diana

July 10, 2019 05:55pm

When Rushing Fall crossed the wire first in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, many wondered just how good this daughter of More Than Ready was -- and could be. She was so highly regarded that she finished second in balloting for the 2-year-old filly Eclipse Award.

After winning her 3-year-old debut last spring, she was narrowly beaten in the Edgewood (G3) on the Kentucky Oaks undercard. Rushing Fall only started two more times last season, both times in races restricted to her age group. In short, although she had a nice campaign, its abbreviated nature left this Eclipse Award voter wanting to see more.

And that's what has happened so far this year. Back as an older horse, Rushing Fall has already bagged two Grade 1 wins, whereas before the calendar turned, she had competed in only two Grade 1 races.

Next, the daughter of More Than Ready will face her stiffest test yet on opening weekend at Saratoga as she goes in the Diana (G1). Among her competition will be reigning division champion Sistercharlie in her 2019 debut, while 
Rymska, Homerique, Mitchell Road and Beau Recall are among the others expected to enter.

Homerique is unbeaten in two graded stakes starts this year -- also her first races in the U.S. for Chad Brown, who also trains Rushing Fall and Sistercharlie. Mitchell Road hasn’t lost in three starts this year, and Rymska and Beau Recall were the runner-up to Rushing Fall in her two starts this season. In short, this is a fascinating race.

My appreciation for Rushing Fall has only enhanced over the last few months. Newspaperofrecord, who similarly dominated on turf as a 2-year-old last season, again proved to us that nothing's for sure in this game. Newspaperofrecord was more highly regarded than Rushing Fall after her Breeders' Cup victory but has struggled at age 3.

The Diana, however, still represents a defining moment for Rushing Fall. The belief has always been she is among the best female turf horses in the country. Now she will finally get a chance to prove it and continue her course to Eclipse Award consideration.

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

Older Dirt Males

– Super impressive in the Met Mile (G1), and has been flattered since, with several horses he beat coming back to win stakes. The July 27 Alfred G. Vanderbilt (G1) at Saratoga is on the radar for his next start.

2.  McKinzie 
– Came running in the Met Mile, but it wasn’t quite enough. Will make his next start back around two turns in the Aug. 3 Whitney (G1) at Saratoga.

Thunder Snow – Ran a remarkable race in his first start since Dubai. He's the real deal and a serious player with longer U.S. races ahead. Per his trainer Saeed bin Suroor, he will also start next in the Whitney.

Seeking the Soul 
– I would like to see some consistency from the Stephen Foster (G2) winner. Will travel west for his next start in the August 17 Pacific Classic (G1) at Del Mar.

5.  Vino Rosso 
– Finally broke through to win the Gold Cup at Santa Anita (G1) at the Breeders' Cup Classic distance and over the track where the Classic runs Nov. 2. It makes him a contender here.

Next 5: Preservationist, Quip, Gift Box, Catholic Boy, Catalina Cruiser.

Older Dirt Females

Midnight Bisou  Her Ogden Phipps (G1) victory was also her second straight Grade 1 win and fourth graded stakes of 2019. She will looking to continue her roll and wrap this division up in her next two starts with a prep later this month for Saratoga's Aug. 24 Personal Ensign (G1).

Elate – With no Midnight Bisou to worry about, she found the winner's circle in the Fleur De Lis (G2).

Blue Prize – A runner-up to Elate at Churchill Downs, she'll look to turn the tables when they meet again in Saturday's Delaware Handicap (G2).

Come Dancing  Second in the Ogden Phipps, she won her previous two stakes starts at lower levels this year by wide margins.

She’s a Julie – 
Just edged out for the place in the Fleur De Lis by Blue Prize. Well clear of the rest.

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


Maximum Security – Has done more than enough to keep this spot despite his recent loss in Monmouth Park's Pegasus Stakes. The Haskell (G1) will be next.

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. He arrived at Saratoga this week and could go for the Jim Dandy (G2)-Travers (G1) double.

Omaha Beach – Had some bad luck with the throat issues that caused him to scratch from the Derby and miss time. Will likely make his comeback in the Shared Belief Stakes Aug. 25 at Del Mar.

Tacitus – Again came running in the stretch of a Triple Crown race but fell short of Sir Winston in the Belmont, where he was second best. Will run next in the Jim Dandy.

5.  Game Winner 
– Expected to make his return this weekend in the Los Alamitos Derby (G3). The feeling here is this guy could end up at the top of this division by the end of the summer.

Next 5: Code of Honor, Sir Winston, Country House
, Owendale, Mucho Gusto.


Guarana – 
The Acorn (G1) winner has been spectacular in her two career starts. Can she keep this going?

Serengeti Empress – She was simply second best in the Acorn but went extremely fast early. The Test Stakes (G1) at Saratoga will be her next start.

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. Will also go in the Test Stakes.

Lady Apple – 
Got the job done with a half-length win in the Iowa Oaks (G3). The Fantasy Stakes (G3) winner gave a good account of herself in the Kentucky Oaks with her third-place finish. 

5.  Dunbar Road – 
The Mother Goose (G2) winner looked good in victory, but I question who she really defeated.

Next 5: 
Champagne Anyone, Break Even, Jaywalk, Concrete Rose, Covfeve.

Turf Males

Bricks and Mortar – Has about as big of a lead in a division as you can get this early in the year with a last out Manhattan (G1) win.

Catholic Boy – Although he may focus more on dirt races now, I believe he is better on the grass. Will we see him on it again, though?

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

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

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

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, but you have to wonder about trainer Jerry Hollendorfer's status out West. We could see her next in the Beverly D. (G1) at Arlington.

Rushing Fall – Won her second straight Grade 1 of the year in the Just a Game at Belmont Park. Will be tested this weekend in a showdown with returning champion, Sistercharlie, in the Diana at Saratoga. A win will vault her to No. 1.

Magic Wand – Did well running against the boys here in the U.S., and recently posted runner-ups in Royal Ascot's Wolferton Stakes and the Juddmonte's Pretty Polly Stakes (G1) 10 days later.

– Second to Rushing Fall and Vasilika in her last two starts, she won the Hillsborough Stakes (G2) before that. Will try Rushing Fall again this weekend in the Diana.

5.  Uni 
– Finally made her 2019 debut in the Perfect Sting Stakes and came through with her fifth straight win at Belmont Park. Prior to that, she was last seen defeating Vasilika last fall at Del Mar.

Next 5: Homerique, Competitionofideas, Beau Recall, Santa Monica, Concrete Rose.

Male Sprinters

Mitole – It will take an extraordinary effort to defeat this one in a sprint. The Vanderbilt at Saratoga is on the radar for his next start.

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.

Promises Fulfilled – Got some class relief in the John A Nerud (G2) and he came through with an easy win. The Breeders’ Cup Sprint or the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile are his long-range goals. The August 24 Forego (G1) at Saratoga should be next.

Roy H – Since scratching from the Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1), he's getting back into the swing of things and is expected to point to the Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G1) before another title defense in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

X Y Jet
 – After two near misses and multiple knee surgeries, he put it all together to finally win the Dubai Golden Shaheen, looking like a force on the front end. As with Roy H, hasn’t been seen on the work tab since.

Next 5: Bobby’s Wicked One, Whitmore, Imperial Hint, Catalina Cruiser, Imprimis.

Female Sprinters

Marley’s Freedom – Model of consistency the last two seasons, she was back in the winners circle in the Great Lady M Stakes (G2) at Los Alamitos.

Mia Mischief – Defeated Covfefe in the Roxelana at Churchill Downs. Has done enough now to take over this spot.

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.

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

Break EvenUnbeaten 3-year-old filly is one of many stars pointing to a highly anticipated renewal of the Test Stakes (G1) at Saratoga.

Next 5: Spiced Perfection, Amy’s Challenge, Late Night Pow Wow, Covfefe, Anonymity.


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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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