HRN Division Rankings: Maximum Security still the No. 1 3-year-old

June 19, 2019 02:32pm
HRN Division Rankings: Maximum Security still the No. 1 3-year-old
Photo: Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO

Yes, Maximum Security lost on Sunday in his first start since the Kentucky Derby. But it wasn't too surprising of a defeat if you followed the lukewarm comments his connections made in the days leading up to Monmouth Park's Pegasus Stakes.

As he showed both before and in the Derby, at his best, Maximum Security is the best 3-year-old male we've seen. Until he is beaten in a relevant race, he'll remain No. 1 in my Division Rankings.

The Pegasus served as a prep for the main summer goal, next month's Haskell Invitational (G1), and Maximum Security earned yet another triple-digit Beyer Speed Figure even in defeat to King for a Day, who looks like a legitimate runner.

Maximum Security accomplished more before Sunday than to be docked for one loss, especially when he could have trained up to the Haskell, when he should be back in peak condition.

In other action impacting the rankings, Seeking the Soul, who 18 months ago won his first Grade 1 race, returned to the winner's circle in the Stephen Foster (G2) at Churchill Downs. 
After being excluded from the Breeders' Cup Classic last season, he's guaranteed a spot in the Nov. 2 race this time around.

Since that Clark win in November of 2017, Seeking the Soul has only run 10 times. Before the Clark he had run 16 times. It has taken quite a bit of patience by trainer Dallas Stewart, and more importantly, owner Charles Fipke’s desire to keep his horse in training, to get to this point.

Seeking the Soul is a refreshing rarity in our sport nowadays, and although his three stakes wins have all come at Churchill Downs, don’t count this guy out come Breeders’ Cup time should the championships remain at Santa Anita Park. With starts at nine racetracks, he has placed at eight of them. Seeking the Soul moves up four spots this week in the older male division.

Elate was the other big winner of the weekend, breaking through with her first win of 2019 in the Fleur De Lis (G2). Some had questioned her form going in, but I did not.

Her previous two starts, when she finished behind divisional leader Midnight Bisou, were just fine. She just ran into a better horse. Elate stays at No. 2 in the older female division with her next stop likely coming in the July 13 Delaware Handicap (G2), a race she won last year.

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 longer U.S. races ahead.

4.  Seeking the Soul
– I would like to see some consistency. Should be a force for the remainder of the season.

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

Next 5: Catholic Boy, Quip, Gift Box, Coal Front, 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 – With no Midnight Bisou to worry about, she found the winner's circle in the Fleur De Lis (G2).

3.  
Blue Prize – Runner-up to Elate in the Fleur De Lis, she can likely do better this summer.

4.  
Come Dancing – Runner-up in the Ogden Phipps, she won her previous two stakes starts this year by wide margins.

5.  
She’s a Julie – Just ended 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.


3-Year-Old-Males

1.  
Maximum Security – Has done more than enough to keep this spot despite his loss in the Pegasus. 

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, 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 House
Code of Honor, Improbable, Mucho Gusto.


3-Year-Old-Females

1.  
Guarana – 
The Acorn (G1) winner has been spectacular in her two career starts. 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 with a last out Manhattan (G1) win.

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. 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 – An uncharacteristic finish in the True North (G2) has him headed to the sidelines.

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 and returns Saturday in Churchill Downs' Roxelana.

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, Late Night Pow Wow, 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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