Who's up, who's down in the top 20 Kentucky Derby contenders

Who's up, who's down in the top 20 Kentucky Derby contenders
Photo: Benoit

This is the time of year when contenders begin to separate themselves from the pretenders on the Triple Crown Trail.

With the Sham (G3), Jerome and Mucho Macho Man Stakes now in the books, there was plenty of movement in this week's HRN 3-year-old rankings.

Life Is Good progressed from his strong maiden victory in the Sham. Mutasaabeq proved dirt is his preferred surface in the Mucho Macho Man. Capo Kane became the latest Parx maiden winner to make a splash in New York with his Jerome score.

Eleven 3-year-olds will have an opportunity to take their next step on the Triple Crown trail in Saturday's competitive Lecomte Stakes (G3) at Fair Grounds.

The Lecomte features Proxy, ranked No. 7; Mandaloun, No. 11; and Manor House, No. 25. Essential Quality deservingly has a large lead for the No. 1 spot at the moment, but if one of the three horses mentioned above win the Lecomte in an impressive fashion, they could challenge Essential Quality for the top spot before a likely showdown with the Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner in the Risen Star (G2) on Feb. 13.

Here is a closer look at who is rising and who is falling in the latest HRN rankings.

Who is rising


Life Is Good
 — Reviews have been mixed on this colt's victory in the Sham Stakes (G3). He earned a fantastic 101 Beyer Speed Figure while trying a route for the first time in a race where the third-place finisher was a mile behind the top two. Medina Spirit was gaining considerable ground late, and there is some concern about this colt's ability to get the 1 1/4-mile distance of the Derby despite Mike Smith and Bob Baffert insisting that he was eased up. This sounds a lot like Authentic following the Haskell, and we all know how that turned out. He certainly has as much talent as anyone in this crop, and it will be interesting to see whether distance ends up being his Achilles' heel. He has risen to No. 4 in this week's rankings.

Medina Spirit — If Life Is Good is as talented as most believe, then this colt has to be given credit for the fierce late kick he showed in the Sham. Unlike Life Is Good, he did not gain a powerhouse speed figure in his debut, thus the improvement in start No. 2 was substantial when 13 lengths clear of the third-place finisher. He has improved to No. 26 this week and seems to have plenty of room to grow.

Mutasaabeq — This touted colt was one of the most impressive debut winners all meet last summer at Saratoga. After a disappointing third in the Hopeful (G1), Todd Pletcher switched things up by placing him on the turf in the Bourbon (G2). He was talented enough to win the Bourbon despite a rough trip, which led many to believe he was a turf horse. Following a dud in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, he kicked off his 3-year-old campaign with an impressive win over the main track in the Jan. 2 Mucho Macho Man, indicating that his future lies on the dirt. He might be a step behind the best of his crop, but he has shown great versatility and that he can handle a route of ground. The son of Into Mischief sits at No. 30.

Capo Kane — This son of Street Sense looked good defeating his more seasoned rivals in the Jerome after a maiden victory at Parx. The quality of that field was suspect and it was around one turn, but this colt has the upside to move up from his No. 39 ranking this week.

Who is falling

Get Her Number — This colt appeared on his way to big things with an impressive victory in the American Pharoah (G1) in his dirt debut, but he has not been seen since. That seems like ages ago and he has gone a long time without a workout, making many wonder whether he will make a major Derby prep. He has fallen to No. 20 after reaching the top 5 at one point.

Pickin' Time — He gained recognition for his win in the Nashua but has failed to build on that momentum with consecutive fourth-place finishes in the Remsen and Mucho Macho Man. He dropped to No. 51 this week and is slowly fading off the Derby Trail.

Parnelli — He knocked heads with Hot Rod Charlie and Spielberg before breaking maiden with ease. Many expected him to take the next step forward with a strong effort in the Sham, but he was nowhere to be seen, finishing a distant third. 

The contender rankings are generated by user and staff ratings for top active 3-year-olds. If the list is missing a horse you are watching, you may add that horse, rate it and watch it climb the ladder. Click here for more on HRN’s Power Rankings and voting.

Below is a screen shot of the top 20 contenders. Click here for the complete rankings list of top 3-year-olds for 2021.

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