Jeff Siegel’s Blog: 2020 Top-20 Triple Crown Rankings (Updated March 16, 2020)

JEFF SIEGEL’S 2020 TRIPLE CROWN RANKINGS

(updated March 16, 2020)

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Updated regularly, these rankings identify the best 3-year-olds of 2020 in order of preference, with each horse given a theoretical weight assignment starting at 126 lbs. based on past performance and projected development.  The horses listed are assumed to be candidates for at least one of the Triple Crown races. 

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1 – CHARLATAN (126 lbs.)

Speightstown – Authenticity, by Quiet American

Lifetime record: 2-2-0-0 ($33,000)

Derby points: 0

Pointing for: TBD

Video:  Allowance win

Video:  Black Book Xpress segment

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Positives: Invoked memories of Triple Crown winner Justify’s first start almost exactly two years later when blazing to a nearly 6-length debut victory in mid-February that earned an off-the-charts 105 Beyer speed figure; was even more impressive in 10 ¼ first-level allowance romp over a mile the following month; at this stage appears as gifted as any colt in the class; in both wins galloped out far in front; has extreme quickness but switches off on cue and then re-breaks; powerful colt but with enough length and scope to potentially stay a classic distance.

Concerns:  Behind the 8-ball with regards to experience and foundation but as was the case with Justify may have enough sheer talent to overcome his late start; next race undecided but logically the 9f Santa Anita Derby (where his undefeated stable mate Authentic is scheduled to run) would top the list; currently has zero Derby points but is one of a few late-developers that would benefit from a potential re-scheduling to a later date of the Kentucky Derby-G1.

 

2 – TIZ THE LAW (125 lbs.)

Constitution - Tizfiz, by Tiznow

Lifetime record: 4-3-0-1 ($498,900)

Derby points: 22

Pointing for: March 28, Florida Derby-G1, Gulfstream Park

Video:  Holy Bull S.-G3

Video:  Champagne S.-G1

Video: Workout (March 15)

Trainer: Barclay Tagg

Positives: Grade-1 winner as 2-year-old; highly-impressive sophomore debut when capturing Holy Bull S.-G3 with an excellent stalking style while earning a powerful speed figure; had the form franked when runner-up Ete Indien returned to win the Fountain of Youth S.-G2; among many top prospects by spectacular freshman sire; had excuses for only defeat (in Ky. Jockey Club S.-G2).

Concerns: Questionable on an off track (was third at 3/5 over sloppy track at Churchill Downs); was subjected to an ill-advised ride (or strategy) when wrangled back early in Holy Bull; has good tactical speed and must be allowed to show it.

 

3 – AUTHENTIC (125 lbs.)

Into Mischief - Flawless, by Mr. Greedy

Lifetime record: 3-3-0-0 ($331,200)

Derby points: 60

Pointing for: April 4, 2020, Santa Anita Derby-G1, Santa Anita

Video:  San Felipe S.-G2

Video:  Sham S.-G3

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Positives: Unbeaten in three starts, was straight and true when earning a career-top Beyer speed figure (98) in a dominating 8.5f San Felipe S.-G2 victory to remain unbeaten while verifying the promise he displayed when an eye-catching 7 ¾ length winner of the 8f Sham S.-G2; athletic colt with substance; may be just scratching the surface of his immense talent; in hands of a two-time Triple Crown trainer.  

Concerns:  Sire gets mostly milers and therefore is no sure thing to excel at a classic distance; unfocused when lugging in badly through the stretch in his Sham S.-G3 win though he displayed none of those antics in his subsequent San Felipe S.-G2 score; each of his three wins have been accomplished on the lead so he has to prove he can be receptive to rating/stalking tactics or cope with kick back if and when the situation demands.

 

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4 – NADAL (124 lbs.)

Blame - Ascending Angel, by Pulpit

Lifetime record: 3-3-0-0 ($753,00)

Derby points: 50

Pointing for: TBD

Video:  Rebel S.-G2

Video:  San Vicente S.-G2

Video:  Black Book Xpress segment

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Positives: Remained undefeated with a gate-to-wire score in the 8.5f Rebel S.-G2, taking severe pressure throughout but finding more when it mattered to register a three-quarter length victory over late-running long shot Excession over a sloppy/sealed surface; previously had won 6.5f debut in striking fashion with a stakes-quality speed figure and then returned three weeks later to capture 7f San Vicente S.-G2 despite being pressed through blazing early fractions; bred to stay the Derby trip; strong, powerful colt can handle hard training if that’s what it takes.

Concerns: All three of his victories, while extremely impressive, were accomplished on the lead and while he passed his first two-turn test he has yet to take any dirt; blessed with intense speed and may not be at his best unless permitted to show it right form the gate; all power, little finesse at this stage.

 

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5 – MAXFIELD (124 lbs.)

Street Sense - Velvety, by Bernardini

Lifetime record: 2-2-0-0 ($354,412)

Derby points: 10

Pointing for:  TBD

Video: Workout (Feb. 17)

Video:  Breeders’ Futurity

Trainer: Brendan Walsh

Positives: Overcame a slow start to rally from 10th over a mile to win debut at Churchill Downs and then buried a strong field (including highly-regarded Gouverneur Morris) by more than five lengths in the Breeders’ Futurity-G1 around two turns; has exceptional turn of foot and is bred to stay the Derby trip and beyond; arguably the most impressive juvenile of his crop.

Concerns: Missed Breeders’ Cup Juvenile after showing signs of lameness and subsequently had an ankle chip removed in November that required two months of rest; recorded a five furlong workout of 1:01 4/5 March 14 but is questionable to be ready in time for a proper Kentucky Derby prep and the Derby itself should it be staged on schedule; remains one of the division’s best prospects and would benefit greatly with a postponement to a later date of the Kentucky Derby-G1.

 

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6 – HONOR A. P. (122 lbs.)

Honor Code – Hollywood Story, by Wild Rush

Lifetime Record: 3-1-2-0 ($122,200)

Derby points: 20

Pointing for: April 4, Santa Anita Derby-G1, Santa Anita

Video:  San Felipe S.-G2

Video:  Shedrow Stroll

Trainer: John Shirreffs

Positives: Made his first start since September (and just his third overall) in the San Felipe S.-G2 and performed admirably, racing within range to the head of the lane and then staying on gamely to be second to Authentic while 3 ½ lengths clear of BC Juvenile winner Storm the Court; seems sure to improve with this race under his belt and will get another crack at Authentic in the Santa Anita Derby though the brilliant Charlatan may also be in the field; should have no trouble handling a classic distance.

Concerns: At this stage doesn’t appear to own a true turn of foot, giving the impression of being somewhat of a grinder; lacks seasoning and experience (just three career starts); numbers are rising but aren’t quite where they need to be just yet; more potential than production so far but also may have upside that many of the other contenders don’t; connections probably wouldn’t be upset if the Kentucky Derby-G1 was re-scheduled to a later date.   

 

7 – ETE INDIEN (121 lbs.)

Summer Front – East India, by Mizzen Mast

Lifetime record: 4-2-1-0 ($97,556)

Derby points: 54

Pointing for: March 28, Florida Derby-G1, Gulfstream Park

Video:  Fountain of Youth S.-G2

Trainer: Patrick Biancone

Positives: Showed superior gate speed to quickly establish the pace from an extreme outside draw in the Fountain of Youth S.-G2 and dominated throughout to earn a career top speed figure; versatile colt has won on turf and dirt and from off the pace and on the lead; has improved with every outing; no reason he can’t continue to develop for a trainer who has had plenty of success with top class runners in the past.

Concerns:  Had every chance but was no match for Tiz the Law when second (11 lengths clear of the rest) in the Holy Bull S.-G3 and must face that colt again in the Florida Derby-G1; probably most effective on the lead and therefore must be considered suspect as the distances increase; pedigree suggests he may eventually prove to be most comfortable on grass.

 

8 – SOLE VOLANTE (121 lbs.)

Karakontie - Light Blow, by Kingmambo

Lifetime Record: 5-3-1-1 ($266,310)

Derby points: 30

Pointing for: April 4, Wood Memorial-G2, Aqueduct

Video:  Tampa Bay Derby-G2

Video:  Sam F. Davis S.-G3

Trainer: Patrick Biancone

Positives:  Steady late bid to finish a willing but distant second (to 50-1 King Guillermo) in highly-rated 8.5 Tampa Bay Derby while appearing to want more distance; previously had produced an exciting late kick from 15 lengths back to win the 8.5f Sam F. Davis S.-G3; sire was a turf miler but gelding gives promise of developing into a legitimate staying stretch runner; genuine, consistent, and dependable. 

Concerns: May actually be more effective on turf than dirt; fast early splits contributed to his deep-closing win at Tampa Bay, lacks tactical speed and may be pace dependent; was a giveaway $20,000 purchase at the OBS April sale.

 

9 – KING GUILLERMO (120 lbs.)

Uncle Mo-Slow Sand, by Dixieland Band

Lifetime Record: 4-2-0-1 ($240,350)

Derby points: 50

Pointing for: May 2, Kentucky Derby-G1, Churchill Downs

Video:  Tampa Bay Derby-G2

Trainer: Juan Carlos Avila

Positives: Left his previous form behind with a thoroughly dominant victory in the Tampa Bay Derby-G2 while employing an effective pace pressing style; strong speed figure legitimized the outstanding effort; had two well-regarded prospects (Sole Volante, Chance It) behind him; taken at face value, this performance warrants his inclusion into the top-10 rankings.

Concerns: What happens at Tampa Bay Downs often stays there; assuming the race isn’t postponed to a later date from May 2, will be trained up to the Kentucky Derby-G1 rather than be given the benefit of another prep race; under this challenging plan will be required to make a substantial leap from 8.5 furlongs to a mile and one-quarter off a two month layoff; clearly will have a different schedule should the Derby be re-scheduled. 

 

10 – GOUVERNEUR MORRIS (120 lbs.)

Constitution – Addison Run, by Unbridled’s Song

Lifetime record: 3-2-1-0 ($161,500)

Derby points: 4

Pointing for: March 28, Florida Derby-G1, Gulfstream Park

Video:  Breeders’ Futurity-G1

Trainer Todd Pletcher

Positives:  Showed a liking for an off track when winning debut at Saratoga by nine lengths and lost little in defeat when finishing second despite a poor draw and a very wide trip to Maxfield in the Breeders’ Futurity-G1 at Keeneland in his only other 2-year-old outing; appeared less than cranked up when capturing an overnight race at Tampa Bay Downs upon his reappearance (runner-up returned to finish second in the Gotham S.-G2); appears to have enormous room for developing and improvement. 

Concerns: Had to work a bit harder than expected to win his sophomore debut even if he might have been short of condition; speed figures are fair to moderate at this stage; not necessarily a slam dunk to stay a classic distance; more promise than performance so far but remains quite intriguing. 

 

11 – ENFORCEABLE (119 lbs.)

Tapit – Justlewhistledixie, by Dixie Union

Lifetime record: 8-2-2-2 ($347,150)

Derby points: 33

Pointing for: March 21, Louisiana Derby-G2, Fair Grounds

Video:  Risen Star S.-G2

Video:  Lecomte S.-G3

Trainer: Mark Casse

 

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12 – STORM THE COURT (119 lbs.)

Court Vision – My Tejana Storm, by Tejano Run

Lifetime record: 5-2-0-1 ($1,184,951)

Derby points: 32

Pointing for: TBD

Video:  San Felipe S.-G2

Video:  Breeders’ Cup Juvenile-G1

Trainer: Peter Eurton

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13 – THOUSAND WORDS (119 lbs.)

Pioneerof the Nile – Pomeroys Pistol, by Pomeroy

Lifetime Record: 3-3-0-0 ($211,000)

Derby points: 25

Pointing for: April 4, Wood Memorial S.-G2, Aqueduct

Video:  San Felipe S.-G3

Video:  Robert B. Lewis S.-G3

Trainer: Bob Baffert

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14 – MAX PLAYER (118 lbs.)

Honor Code – Fools in Love, by Not for Love

Lifetime record: 3-2-1-0 ($173,500)

Derby points: 10

Pointing for: April 4, Wood Memorial S.-G2, Aqueduct

Video:  Withers S.-G3

Trainer: Linda Rice

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15 – INDEPENDENCE HALL (118 lbs.)

Constitution – Kalahari Cat, by Cape Town

Lifetime record: 4-3-1-0 ($250,00)

Derby points: 14

Pointing for: March 28, Florida Derby-G1, Gulfstream Park

Video:  Sam F. Davis S.-G3

Video:  Jerome S.-G3

Trainer: Michael Trombetta

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16 – CHANCE IT (118 lbs.)

Currency Swap – Vagabond Diva, by Pleasantly Perfect

Lifetime Record: 7-4-2-0 ($456,910)

Derby points: 0

Pointing for: March 28, Florida Derby-G1, Gulfstream Park

Video:  Tampa Bay Derby

Video:  Mucho Macho Man S.

Trainer: S. A. Joseph, Jr.

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17 – MISCHEVIOUS ALEX (117 lbs.)

Into Mischief - White Pants Night, by Speightstown

Lifetime Record: 7-4-1-1 ($344,230)

Derby points: 50

Pointing for: April 4, Wood Memorial S.-G2, Aqueduct

Video: Gotham S.-G2

Trainer: John C. Servis

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18 – MODERNIST (116 lbs.)

Uncle Mo – Symbolic Gesture, by Bernardini

Lifetime Record: 4-2-0-1 ($288,800)

Derby points:  50

Pointing for: March 21, Louisiana Derby-G2, Fair Grounds

Video: Risen Star S.-G2 (2nd division)

Trainer:  Bill Mott

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19 – ROYAL ACT (116 lbs.)

American Pharoah – True Feelings, by Latent Heat

Lifetime Record: 3-1-1-0 ($52,844)

Derby points: 4

Pointing for: March 21, Louisiana Derby-G2, Fair Grounds

Video:  Robert B. Lewis S.-G3

Video:  Workout (Feb. 29)

Trainer: Peter Eurton

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20 – EIGHT RINGS (116 lbs.)

Empire Maker – Purely Hot, by Pure Prize

Lifetime Record: 4-2-0-0 ($236,951)

Derby points: 10

Pointing for: TBD

Video:  Workout (March 9)

Video:  American Pharoah S.-G1

Trainer: Bob Baffert

 

Jeff Siegel’s Blog: 2020 Top-20 Triple Crown Rankings (Updated March 16, 2020)

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