Wednesday, May 09, 2007

TCR Update

The Derby is over and the Preakness chase has not really heated up yet. Seems like an ideal time to bring the focus back to one of the main features of the site, the Thoroughbred Championship Ranking system.

You may have noticed the TCR listed atop the sidebar and wondered what it was all about. You can click on the header for a more complete explanation but essentially it is a point system that is used to rank horses both overall and within their division. The idea is that at the end of the year the point system can be used in conjunction with votes to determine year end championships.

Another benefit of a point system is that it gives shape and scope to the whole year of racing. Because the stars of racing change so frequently it is hard for the casual fan to keep up. A race featuring Pussycat Doll and Mary Delaney might be hard to hype because they are not mainstream stars, but if you mention that its a matchup between the #1 and #2 ranked horses in the Filly Sprint Division you spark more interest by putting the race in context. Also it's easier to get up to speed with the main contenders with a point system. If one happens to frequent Kennedy's Corridor they could, with a quick glance, get an idea for who the major players are both overall and within each division.

I think that if you compare the TCR to any other point system currently available online you'll find that it is by far the most relevant. It actually relates to what you see on the track. Many other systems have to wait for the "cream to rise" and really only take a logical or meaningful shape after the Breeders Cup. I have not really done my bit to promote this point system other than a small segment in my weekend roundup. Look for that change over the coming months, this really can be a useful tool.

Let's take an in-depth look at how things are shaping up so far.

In top spot we have Invasor, I don't think there could any real complaints with that. He is clearly the best horse in North America at the moment. He is in danger of relinquishing that spot though if Street Sense manages to capture the Preakness. The way their schedules work out Street Sense will likely run twice more before Invasor's next start so the top spot is his for the taking. Rags to Riches also has a realistic chance of challenging for the top spot if her connections give her a full campaign. Since 1999 only Ashado, Spain and Silverbulletday have managed to finish in the overall top 10 as 3yo fillies. Rags to Riches has every chance to equal that feat. At the moment the division with the strongest representation is the older horses. 4 of them are in the top 10 but the sprinters are not far behind with 3 representatives. The Turf divisions have not really heated up yet and from the turf racing we have had no one has really come out and distinguished themselves so that explains the lack of turf horses in the top 10.

Older Male
Invasor leads this group by a wide margin. Unlike in the overall category where his ranking is under threat he is in little danger of losing his spot at the present. Master Command and Molengao will need to step it up in a huge way to match the reigning Horse of the Year. The big surprise in this division is Silent Pleasure who is 5th ranked overall on the strength of his 6-5-1-0 season. He has only won one G-3 stakes race but his strong form in all his other races has seen him rise to a respectable place in the division. He will be one to watch out for when he steps up in company.

Older Female
Top ranked Ermine is just out of the overall top 10 being ranked 11th. Balance and Sugar Shake are right in the hunt and really any of the three could be leading once they all run again. Miss Shop and Asi Siempre round out the top 5. It is a fairly uninspiring group this year. They already appear to be weaker than the 3yo fillies.

Turf Male
Jambalaya and Kip Deville have little to find between them but Kip Deville could assume command of the division with a good run in the Shoemaker Mile which is set to be run later this month. Jambalaya is the top ranked distance horse but it has to be said that the group behind him are not really spectacular. It will be interesting to see how he and fellow Canadian Sky Conqueror match up. Conceivably the two canucks could be the biggest players in the division all year long. Just nipping into the 10th spot is 3yo turfer Duveen. He is now 3 for 4 lifetime on the grass with his only loss coming in his turf debut where he missed by a neck. The best horse who doesn't show up at all in the top 10 for this division is Showing Up. He was the favorite to dominate this division in 2007, I'm sure he'll make his presence felt though.

Turf Female
This division has not really changed much, there have not been very many races either. Cittronade is more than worthy of her top rank after devastating the competition in California. It looks as though even Wait A While will have her hands full with the Frankel trainee. Todd Pletcher has a strong hand in this division but other than Wait A While I don't think he has any super stars. Currently Cassydora, Safari Queen and J'Ray are all in the top 5 and obviously you would expect Wait A While and Honey Ryder to join the fray. Also don't forget Audacious Chloe who at the moment appears to be the top 3yo turf filly.

This division looks extremely strong, ever since Pico Central and Speighstown retired the sprinters have not really been top tier but they seem to be quite good this year. Kelly's Landing can run big when he feels like it and he narrowly holds the top spot, and 5th overall off the strength of his win in the Golden Shaheen. Smokey Stover is right on his tail though and has looked spectacular. I think this horse has a legitimate chance to run the table this year. And how about Silver Wagon? He is one of the best stories of the year so far, still turning in big performances at the age of 6. He may not be a real 6f sprinter but don't underestimate him with the form he has been in thus far.

3yo Male
This division is really in a state of flux. With so many points up for grabs in the classic races really anyone could assume command in this division. For now Street Sense is the top dog but Curlin and Hard Spun have every chance to challenge for top spot if they do well in the Preakness and Belmont. Scat Daddy is still in second spot thanks to his results on the Triple Crown trail but he'll need to add to those accomplishments if he wants to stay in the hunt.

3yo Female
It's may and the divisional race already looks over. Rags to Riches looks more likely to be the #1 horse overall than she does to get caught by anyone in this division. I suppose Christmas Kid has a chance but given the way Rags handled Octave it really is hard to imagine Christmas Kid being able to beat Rags head to head. Her only real hope of taking this division from a points perspective is staying away from the Pletcher horse and winning all the G-1's she can find. That looks like a pretty unlikely prospect given the fact that she seems to have distance limitations. High Heels, Octave, Mistical Plan and High Again are all well back.

Stay tuned to Kennedy's Corridor to watch how the TCR will unfold this year. You can check out the summarized standings on the sidebar and the Full Standings from this year all the way back to 1999 by clicking here or on the link on the sidebar.

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