Shifman: Breakout sprinters gauged in NTRA rankings

July 30, 2019 09:41am
Shifman: Breakout sprinters gauged in NTRA rankings
Photo: Chelsea Durand/NYRA

Mitole's defeat in the Alfred G. Vanderbilt (G1) on Saturday only kicked off a sensationally speedy weekend for the sprinters at Saratoga.

This week’s
NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll responded immediately to that result, as Mitole dropping down to the No. 5 spot while interestingly retaining two first-place votes. Imperial Hint, who found the winner's circle for the first time this season, also made his debut in the Top 10.

A loss by Mitole also meant that Bricks and Mortar’s hold on the top spot was solidified.

In the Vanderbilt, Imperial Hint got the best of Mitole when the winner received the ideal pace setup and ran over the best part of the racetrack. It certainly didn’t hurt that Saratoga is Imperial Hint’s favorite surface.

Mitole had to settle for a third-place finish after setting blazing fractions in a pace duel with Strike Power. Stuck on the rail the entire trip, the Steve Asmussen runner was on what appeared a slow portion of dirt.

The result was a four-length victory for Imperial Hint, who tripped the timer in a sizzling time of 1:07.92 and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 114. It was a performance that had the crowd of over 35,000 at the Spa buzzing. Little did they know that this was a mere warmup for Sunday, when the 3-year-old sprinters took the stage in the Amsterdam.

shipped up to Saratoga from Monmouth Park for the Amsterdam (G2) sporting a perfect record in two starts and a blazing workout of 1:11 at the Spa just a week before the race. The Jorge Navarro trainee faced a full field of 12 that, on paper, looked fairly evenly matched.

But the race was over when the gates opened, as Shancelot flew to the lead and never looked back. He carved out speedy fractions of 21.79, 43.94, and 1:07.63, which was a faster time for six furlongs than Imperial Hint ran in the Vanderbilt. The 3-year-old crossed the line 12 ½ lengths in front in a final time of 1:14.01 for the 6 ½ furlongs. The Beyer Speed Figure came back at a staggering 121.

Navarro has trained some very fast sprinters in the past, but nothing like this Monmouth Park based speedster.

Wow. To say what I said a month ago, that this is the best horse I've ever trained,” said Navarro. “You know, Private Zone was good. Sharp Azteca was good. X Y Jet is still good.

"Going into the race, I knew (Shancelot) was running against some good horses, I thought, 'am I going to be wrong?' I guess not.”

From Imperial Hint and Shancelot came the two highest Beyers of the year. Note, that Come Dancing also received a 114 earlier in April at Aqueduct.

On my ballot, I dropped Mitole from No. 1 and elevated Bricks and Mortar. However, I was not ready to put Imperial Hint or, for that matter, Shancelot into my top 10 list based on just one graded stakes win against sprinters.

Imperial Hint will get another shot in Belmont Park's Vosburgh (G1) before the Breeders' Cup Sprint, while Shancelot is likely to appear next on the Travers undercard in the H. Allen Jerkens Memorial.

This weekend in the 
Whitney (G1), Thunder Snow, McKinzie, and Vino Rosso, are expected to battle in a race that should have a big impact on next week's rankings as well as the Older Male division leadership.


 Consensus Top 10

 Matt Shifman's Top 10

1.   Bricks and Mortar (36)

 1. Bricks and Mortar

 2. Midnight Bisou (3)

 2. Midnight Bisou

 3. McKinzie

 3. Mitole

 4. World of Trouble

 4. Sistercharlie

 5. Mitole (2)

 5. Maximum Security

 6. Sistercharlie

 6. World of Trouble

 7. Imperial Hint

 7. McKinzie

 8. Maximum Security

 8. Catalina Cruiser

 9. Seeking the Soul

 9. Mr. Money

 10. Thunder Snow

 10. Guarana


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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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