1. Rail Trip (1)
2. Rip Van Winkle (2)
3. Mastercraftsman (3)
4. Einstein (4)
5. Parading (5)
No change to my Classic rankings this week although there could be some movement after this weekend. Rip Van Winkle and Mastercraftsman could be in action at Ascot this weekend and of course that result could impact both their Classic ranking and even which Breeders' Cup race they're pointed at. Rip Van Winkle is the scariest horse right now, he just got good before his minor injury. If he come back in the same or better form he might find himself the top ranked horse in the Classic division.
Hold Me Back also runs in the Kentucky Cup Classic this weekend and a good performance from him puts him right in the mix. He and Summer Bird are already knocking on the door just below Parading so any flash of brilliance would be enough to see him upgraded. I like his closing style and also the fact that he's been so effective on synthetic surfaces.
1. Fame And Glory (1)
2. Conduit (2)
3. Spanish Moon (new)
4. Gio Ponti (4)
5. Kite Wood (5)
Dropped: Tartan Bearer (3)
Tartan Bearer has unfortunately come up injured and will not be contesting the Breeders' Cup. it's a shame because he would have had a big impact.
I still see Fame And Glory as far and away the best horse in this group. I only hope his connections still want to bring him after the Arc.
Kite Wood may have lost the St. Leger to his stablemate Mastery but I think the Turf is still a great fit for him. I got the impression that the 14f St. Leger was a bit too far for him. I think he's the best 12f Turf horse that the boys in blue have got and he should be given his chance in America.
Spanish Moon is a very interesting horse. He is a very talented son of El Prado but he's had some mental problems with regards to the gate. He was actually barred from racing in England over the summer because of his antics. But no matter he has used that time to go undefeated in France. Why is he now ranked so high? The suspension in England has actually helped him because it means he's been trained like a French horse instead of an English one. Most English horses are primed for a big summer. Royal Ascot in June, then the Eclipse, King George, Juddmonte International and Irish Champion stakes in September comprise the bulk of the season for top flight horses. Consequently a lot of English horses are out of gas by the fall. French horses by contrast are aimed at the Fall. That's why Andre Fabre has such a great record in the Arc and Breeders' Cup. Back to Spanish Moon, he hasn't had any races between June and mid September. I think he'll have a big fall. He's been first or second in all of his last 6 races and his one experience on a North American-like track was a positive one. He lost by just a nose in the Dubai Sheema Classic.
A horse I won't touch for this race is Just As Well. I know he earned a G-1 win last weekend but the form of that race was pretty poor. He's a bet against if he shows up because he's not in the same class as even Gio Ponti, let alone the top Europeans.
1. Goldikova (1)
2. Delegator (3)
3. Ghanaati (4)
4. Aqlaam (new)
5. Ferneley (new)
Dropped: Bribon (2), Rahy's Attorney (5)
Who is the best miler in North America? My feeling is that it's Gio Ponti followed closely by Ventura. Who is the best miler in North America that is pointing to the BC Mile? That's a much tougher question to answer. I'm not necessarily sold on the fact that a European has to win the Mile this year but I'm honestly having trouble coming up with the name of a local that's good enough to beat them. The Woodbine Mile was a bit of a dream crusher in that regard. I thought Bribon would run well enough to convince his connections to go. I thought the same for Rahy's Attorney but both failed the test and both will now go down different paths that don't include a stop at Santa Anita.
So who is left? Some people will really get behind Justenuffhumor. I am not on that boat at all. He would have to be extremely impressive in the Kelso or Keeneland Mile to change my mind. If he just wins like he has been doing I won't be using him.
The European Aqlaam has made the list as a temporary stop gap. I'm not sure if he's coming. I do know that he's a solid horse and he'll do until other contenders emerge.
I've tossed Ferneley on the list despite the fact that he's not nominated because at least he's shown that on occasion he can run a big race that puts him in the hunt against top class milers. I know that's a thin case but it's all I've got at present. Besides Ventura's 108 BSF for winning the Woodbine Mile Ferneley owns the two highest 8f Turf BSF's this year.
This race is crying out for some real North American contenders to be born in the Oak Tree Mile, Kelso and Keeneland Mile. Keep a close eye on those races.
1. Fatal Bullet (1)
2. Zensational (2)
3. Munnings (3)
4. Ready's Echo (4)
5. Noble Court (new)
Dropped: Jungle Wave (5)
Fatal Bullet is back on track and working and I expect my confidence to grow on him in the next month. He's just as much a monster as Zensational on the synthetics but he gets far less press. Connections might choose to send him to the Ancient Title as a last prep which would drive down his price for the Sprint but it would be a good indicator of his real talent.
Poor Jungle Wave ran his heart out in the Woodbine Mile and if he were my horse I'd definitely be looking at the Sprint. But the people that actually own him seem to be leaning elsewhere with him. If they change their minds I'm on board but until then I have to drop him.
Noble Court is not good enough to win the Sprint unless there is a monumental pace meltdown but I do think he is the second best sprinter in California at the moment. That should count for something.
It's hard to see past the top two, everyone else looks like a second rate choice.
1. Lookin At Lucky (2)
2. Dublin (3)
3. Aspire (4)
4. Pulsion (5)
5. Dave in Dixie (new)
Dropped: Sidney's Candy (1)
Just one week into the rankings for the Juvenile and I've already lost my #1. Sidney's Candy has unfortunately come up with a minor injury that will keep him out of the Juvenile. He ought to be back for the Hollywood meet so look for him in the Futurity.
As a result of that defection Lookin At Lucky takes over as the top horse. I'm fairly confident that he could be beaten but his competition is pretty under developed at this stage.
I've decided not to include either D'Funnybone or Discreetly Mine off of their performances in the Futurity. D'Funnybone's owner and trainer need to sit down and have a talk because Paul Pompa is saying that the Juvenile is next for him while Dutrow is saying that he's like to take the Champagne then wrap him up for the year. Neither scenario makes him a good pick in my opinion. I hate runners that come directly from the Futurity (or Matron) directly to the Breeders' Cup. The only time I give them a serious look is when the BC is at Belmont because of the one turn configuration. I just think that the 7f Futurity is not a good final prep for the Juvenile and horses with two turn experience generally always dominate.
Discreetly Mine looks like a good horse but will his connections given him another prep then ship all the way out west? Stanley Hough seems a bit more reticent than that to me and ultimately I think we'll see him in a race like the Remsen instead of the Juvenile.
I've added Dave in Dixie because he is more or less the kind of horse I'm looking for. He was an impressive winner from John Sadler's barn at Del Mar. He is based in California so it's not a big stretch to see him tossed into the mix even if he is not the most accomplished. The synthetic track experience coupled with a bit of talent is what I'm really looking for.