Shifman: There's little room for older males in the NTRA Top 10

August 20, 2019 11:31am

The favorites fizzled in the Pacific Classic (G1) as Seeking the Soul, Quip, and Pavel finished up the track while 9-1 shot Higher Power won, giving trainer John Sadler his second victory in a row in the $1 million feature at Del Mar.

The result was pretty much status quo for the Older Dirt Male division. Higher Power joins a long list of active horses who have an isolated Grade 1 victory but not much more.

Sadler’s past success in the race may have held down the odds on the winner considering this was not only Higher Power's first Grade 1 score, but his first stakes victory of any kind. Higher Power's prior two starts came on turf.

As a result, the consensus Top 10 in this week’s
NTRA Thoroughbred Poll replaced Seeking the Soul with Higher Power. Because I did not have Seeking the Soul on ballot before, I did not give the Pacific Classic winner any serious thought about getting one of my votes.

McKinzie, the recent Whitney (G1) winner, is the only older horse targeting the Breeders' Cup Classic in my current Top 10.

At Saratoga, the favorite did not disappoint when
Dunbar Road displayed an impressive turn of foot to win the Alabama (G1). The afternoon was not without drama as a summer thunderstorm broke out just before the race, causing a brief delay and a sealed and sloppy track.

The victory by Dunbar Road gave jockey Jose Ortiz his third score in a row in the Alabama and Chad Brown his first win in the mile and a quarter showcase for 3-year-old fillies. The daughter of Quality Road won it the way so many of Brown’s runners do – with a confident and patient ride that led to a speedy move in the final sixteenth of a mile to make winning big races seem so simple.

"She didn't have the cleanest of trips, but Jose was able to get her out of some trouble turning for home and clear. She ran super," said Brown. "We were expecting her to run really well at a mile and a quarter. We thought she'd been looking for this distance for a long time."

The 3-year-old filly
Concrete Rosewho won the first two legs of New York’s Turf Tiara, is out of training for the rest of the year due to a hairline fracture so mild it took three sets of X-rays to detect. The Rusty Arnold trainee was No. 8 in my Top 10 last week but ceded that position to Dunbar Road this go-around.

Saturday’s Travers Day card at Saratoga is likely to have significant impact on the NTRA rankings when No. 4
Midnight Bisou tangles with No. 9 Elate in the Personal Ensign and No. 5 Mitole returns to the track in the Forego after his defeat to Imperial Hint in the Vanderbilt.


 Consensus Top 10

 Matt Shifman's Top 10

1.   Bricks and Mortar (36)

 1. Bricks and Mortar

 2. McKinzie (3)

 2. Midnight Bisou

 3. Sistercharlie

 3. Sistercharlie

 4. Midnight Bisou

 4. McKinzie

 5. Mitole

 5. Mitole

 6. World of Trouble

 6. Maximum Security

 7. Imperial Hint

 7. Mr. Money

 8. Maximum Security

 8. Dunbar Rose

 9. Elate

 9. Catalina Cruiser

 10. Higher Power

 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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