Shifman: Brown 3-year-olds Guarana, Dunbar Road stand out

Shifman: Brown 3-year-olds Guarana, Dunbar Road stand out
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire

The only 3-year-old filly to ever win the Eclipse Award as Horse of the Year was Rachel Alexandra in 2009. It took her going unbeaten in eight starts that included Grade 1 victories against the boys in the Preakness Stakes, Haskell Invitational, and the Woodward.

Let me make this clear: I am not saying that a 3-year-old filly is going to be in the running for this year’s top award. However, with Dunbar Road and Guarana, Chad Brown has an outstanding pair who may soon work their way into the NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll.

Guarana stamped herself as a breakout contender for divisional honors when she ran away to victory in the Acorn (G1), defeating the Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Serengeti Empress by six lengths in stakes record time. The homebred daughter of Ghostzapper had previously broken her maiden on debut by more than 14 lengths at Keeneland.

“I think there was a lot of confidence that she would run extremely well, possibly win, if there wasn’t some superstar in there,” said Three Chimneys vice chairman Doug Cauthen. “But we never expected her to win by the distance that she did. She just seemed to thrive in the competition of the race.”

Then along came Dunbar Road this past weekend in the Mother Goose (G2) at Belmont Park. The daughter of Quality Road should give her stablemate some competition in the division after biding her time behind traffic, then surging for a decisive victory.

In an embarrassment of riches, Jose Ortiz rides both Guarana and Dunbar Road.

“Today was a perfect day because it was an easy race for her,” Ortiz said after Saturday's Mother Goose. “I knew with the amount of horse that I had, I was going to find something to work with. She was traveling comfortably and I felt like she was always there for me. When she got out of there, I was close to them and I just liked that she showed a good turn of foot. This will set her up for later.”

In recent history, 3-year-old fillies like Monomoy Girl last year and Songbird in 2016 have been prominent in the Top 10. Perhaps these two runners are next with Saratoga's July 20 Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) and Aug. 17 Alabama (G1) on the calendar.

In terms of this week's rankings, this was another weekend when those in the NTRA Top 10 Thoroughbred Poll were not in action. My ballot went unchanged, and there was not significant difference in the consensus -- but we head now into an influential Saturday of racing back at Belmont, where Catholic Boy is expected to lead the Suburban (G2).


 Consensus Top 10

 Matt Shifman's Top 10

 1. Bricks and Mortar (28)

 1. Mitole

 2. Mitole (6)

 2. Bricks and Mortar

 3. Midnight Bisou (2)

 3. Midnight Bisou

 4. McKinzie

 4. World of Trouble

 5. World of Trouble

 5. Catholic Boy

 6. Catholic Boy

 6. Seeking the Soul

 7. Seeking the Soul

 7. McKinzie

 8. Rushing Fall

 8. Vino Rosso

 9. Thunder Snow

 9. Rushing Fall

 10. Vino Rosso

 10. Vasilika

Meet Matt Shifman

Matt Shifman has been on the Horse Racing Nation staff since 2011 and currently is a Senior Writer. Matt covers Aqueduct, Belmont Park, Monmouth Park, and Saratoga in his two HRN blogs, Racing at the Jersey Shore and New York State of Racing

Matt has been a co-host of the popular weekly video show HorseCenter for many years.

Since 2012, Matt has been a voter in the NTRA weekly polls for the Top Thoroughbred and Top Three-Year-Old.

Matt is also a partner in the New York Hot List handicapping service @NYHotList where he handicaps the races on the NYRA circuit everyday. The Hot List picks are available at several ADW sites around the country.

You may also know Matt by his Twitter, Facebook, and HRN screen nameAndyScoggin.

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