Shifman: Maximum Security's missing from NTRA Top 10

September 10, 2019 10:30am

Last weekend was loaded with excellent turf racing at Kentucky Downs and Belmont Park, but none of the stakes had any impact on the NTRA Thoroughbred Poll. Each year the poll culminates with the running of the Breeders’ Cup because, typically at that point, the Horse of the Year picture has become clear.

Because there was no significant movement in the poll from the prior week, I have altered the usual Top 10 chart by removing my rankings and replacing them with the graded stakes results for each of the horses.

Bricks and Mortar
is No. 1, and deservedly so, with his four Grade 1 victories. It is worth noting that since the Breeders’ Cup era began in 1984, an Older Male Turf horse has won the Horse of the Year award only four times.

Midnight Bisou
is next with her unbeaten record and six graded stakes victories. Older Dirt Females have garnered the top thoroughbred Eclipse Award only four times during the same period of time.

I have talked about it before in this column, but
McKinzie being ranked as high as No. 3, receiving first-place votes with only a single Grade 1 win this season, is puzzling to me. That Older Dirt Males have won 14 Horse of the Year crowns since the advent of the Breeders’ Cup Classic may help explain his position.

Since 1984, no Sprinter has ever won the Horse of the Year. However, horses that have won sprint races have earned the title. Forego won the Carter and Vosburgh in 1974 on the way to his first of three Horse of the Year titles.

What does that mean for
Mitole? It is a fair conclusion that he already has done enough to win the Male Sprinter championship. So, should the Steve Asmussen trainee run in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile with the idea that a win around two turns could earn him the Horse of the Year? He already has the Met Mile (G1) victory over McKinzie as his biggest of the year, but some consider that one-turn race a sprint.

The biggest head-scratcher from the recent rankings is that
Maximum Security, with two Grade 1 wins and a disqualification when first across the wire in the Kentucky Derby, dropped out of the Top 10 recently. That coincided with Travers Stakes (G1) winner Code of Honor moving into the list. Since the Breeders’ Cup era began in 1984, 11 3-year-olds have been named Horse of the Year.

Don’t both Maximum Security and Code of Honor have a better chance of being named Horse of the Year than World of Trouble, Imperial Hint, and Elate? That’s why none of those three were in my current Top 10 ballot.

 Consensus Top 10

 Graded Stakes Wins

1.   Bricks and Mortar (33)

 Four G1, one G2

 2. Midnight Bisou (4)

 Three G1, one G2, two G3

 3. McKinzie (4)

 One G1, one G2

 4. Mitole

 Three G1, one G3

 5. Sistercharlie

 Two G1

 6. World of Trouble

 Two G1, one G2

 7. Imperial Hint

 One G1

 8. Elate

 Two G2

 9. Code of Honor

 One G1, G2, G3

 10. Catalina Cruiser

 Three G2 


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Meet Matt Shifman

Matt Shifman has been on the Horse Racing Nation staff since 2011 and currently serves as Assistant Editor. 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.

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

Recently, Matt helped launch Derby Day Racing, a new 2-year-old racing partnership, that just purchased a promising Lookin At Lucky filly named Sooner Schooner.

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

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