Jeff Siegel’s Blog: Triple Crown Tracker (May 2, 2017)


(Updated May 2, 2017)

These rankings reflect the author’s evaluation of past and present form, recent workout patterns, quality of connections, and the likelihood of improvement at the Triple Crown distances based on pedigree and running style. Each horse is rated on a theoretical handicap (no sex allowance considered), with the top-ranked horse assigned 126 lbs.


1 – ALWAYS DREAMING (T. Pletcher) – 126

Dark bay/brown colt, 3, by Bodemeister-Above Perfection, by In Excess

Race record: 5-3-1-1 ($648,900). Derby points: 100

Last start: April 1, Gulfstream Park, Florida Derby-G1, finished first.  SEE VIDEO

Last workout: April 28, Churchill Downs, 5f-:59.3b

Next probable start: May 6, Churchill Downs, Kentucky Derby-G1

​$350,000 yearling; half-brother to high class juvenile filly Hot Dixie Chick (Spinaway S.-G1); dam graded stakes winning sprinter; undefeated in three starts in 2017 since joining the T. Pletcher stable and was highly impressive in first stakes outing when winning 9f Florida Derby-G1 by 5 lengths (from State of Honor and Gunnevera) while earning career top speed figure; utilized effective pace-stalking style to the head of the lane before quickly taking control and giving every indication that he’ll enjoy 10 furlongs and beyond; previously had dominated modest opposition in a slowly-run 9f first-level allowance race at Gulfstream Park in early March (never asked) and in highly-rated 8.5F maiden race at Tampa Bay Downs in late January; placed in two maiden sprints at Saratoga when trained by D. Schettino during juvenile campaign; long strider with fluid action has the potential to be a superior 3-year-old and based on his most recent performance may wind up as the favorite in the Kentucky Derby-G1 May 6.



2 – CLASSIC EMPIRE (M. Casse) – 125

Bay colt, 3, by Pioneerof the Nile-Sambuca Classics, by Cat Thief

Race record: 7-5-0-1 ($2,120,220). Derby points: 132

Last start: April 15, Oaklawn Park, Arkansas Derby-G1, finished first. SEE VIDEO

Last workout: April 28, Churchill Downs, 4f, :49.1b

Next probable start: May 6, Churchill Downs, Kentucky Derby-G1

​$475,000 yearling, half-brother to listed stakes-winner Anytime Magic; champion 2-year-old won 4 of 5 starts in 2016 (wheeled and unseated rider at start of Hopeful S.-G1 in only defeat); after a lackluster sophomore debut (appeared nervous and washy) when finishing third (beaten 8 ¾ lengths) to Irish War Cry in Holy Bull S.-G2 in February, returned to winning form with an visually pleasing half-length victory over Conquest Mo Money in moderately-rated 9f Arkansas Derby-G1 (always within range, angled out for clear sailing in upper stretch and then produced solid late kick); best prior outing had been when capturing the 8.5f BC Juvenile-G1 previous November by neck from subsequently retired Not This Time while earning powerful, career-top speed figure; had exited the Holy Bull with a foot abscess that prevented a start in the Fountain of Youth S.-G2 in early March and then missed a workout when he refused to break off after which soreness in his back was diagnosed; once again refused to break off during a scheduled workout March 19; and was subsequently vanned to small training center (Winding Oaks Farm) in Ocala where trained without mishap; had a right to be something less than 100 percent in Arkansas Derby yet showed his class in victory and can be expected to move forward for next start in Kentucky Derby; possesses high class talent and must be considered a major contender despite his on-again, off-again mental quirks.



3 – IRISH WAR CRY (G. Motion) – 125

Chestnut colt, 3, by Curlin-Irish Sovereign, by Polish Numbers

Race record: 5-4-0-0 ($699,460). Derby points: 110

Last start: April 8, Aqueduct, Wood Memorial S.-G2, finished first.  SEE VIDEO

Last workout: April 30, Fair Hill, 6f-1:13.1b

Next probable start: May 6, Churchill Downs, Kentucky Derby-G1

Homebred, half-brother to stakes-placed Irish Strait; good moving, athletic colt; regained his winning form with a perfect pace-stalking score in 9f Wood Memorial S.-G2 in early April, taking control from Battalion Runner inside the furlong pole to register 3 ½ length win while earning the second triple-digit Beyer speed figure of his career and in the process re-establishing himself as a major contender for the spring classics; had his unbeaten 3-race streak snapped the previous month with a disappointing and puzzling performance in 8.5f Fountain of Youth S.-G2 (pressed pace to far turn before quickly fading and winding up seventh, beaten 22 lengths); had been a revelation in his prior outing with a superb front-running score in the highly-rated 8.5f Holy Bull S.-G3 (by 3 ¾ lengths from Gunnevera) in February; supremely talented colt with a blemish on his resume that is difficult to ignore but clearly doesn’t represent his true ability; likely to be among the top three choices for his next start in the Kentucky Derby.-G1.



4 – GUNNEVERA (A. Sano) – 123

Chestnut colt, 3, by Dialed In-Unbridled Rage, by Unbridled

Race record: 9-4-2-1 ($1,170,200). Derby points: 84

Last start: April 1, Gulfstream Park, Florida Derby-G1, finished third.  SEE VIDEO

Last workout: April 28, Churchill Downs, 5f, 1:03.3b

Next probable start: May 6, Churchill Downs, Kentucky Derby-G1

​​$16,000 yearling; had moved to the head of the class when rallying strongly from 13 lengths back to register 5 ¾ lengths victory in 8.5f Fountain of Youth S.-G2 in early March while earning career top speed figure but could do no better than a non-threatening third (beaten 6 ½ lengths to Always Dreaming) in subsequent 9f Florida Derby April 1, lagging far back and then finishing well but much too late from poor outside draw; had made very favorable impression in January when runner-up (beaten 3 ¾ lengths) in 8.5f Holy Bull S.-G2 to front-running Irish War Cry after being forced to check sharply along rail approaching top of lane and losing valuable momentum; enjoyed a highly productive juvenile campaign, winning 6.5f Saratoga Special-G2 and 8.5f Delta Jackpot-G3 (powerfully by 5 ¾ lengths); strong, deep closing style makes him very dangerous over the Kentucky Derby’s 10 furlong trip; traffic, trip and pace always will be a concern due to his lack of tactical speed but despite his defeat as the favorite in Florida Derby remains a quality colt with the potential to win a Classic if things break his way.



5 – McCRAKEN (I. Wilkes) – 122

Bay colt, 3, by Ghostzapper-Ivory Empress, by Seeking the Gold

Race record: 5-4-0-1 ($410,848). Derby points: 40

Last start: April 8, Keeneland, Blue Grass S.-G2, finished third.  SEE VIDEO

Last workout: April 30, Churchill Downs, 5f-1:00.4b

Next probable start: May 6, 2017, Churchill Downs, Kentucky Derby-G1

Homebred, had his unbeaten streak snapped in moderately rated 9f Blue Grass S.-G2 in early April, settling in second flight, producing best bid wide into lane but then losing his punch late, finishing third, 3 ¾ lengths behind Irap; had delivered a solid 2016 debut performance in mid-February when rallying from mid-pack to capture 8.5f Sam F. Davis S.-G3 by 1 ½ lengths from Tapwrit but subsequently had some filling in left ankle, missed his scheduled start in Tampa Bay Derby-G2 and thus had a right to be lacking in peak condition in most recent start; completed his juvenile campaign with a visually pleasing deep-closing score in 8.5F Kentucky Jockey Club S.-G2 at Churchill Downs in November; critical analysis of his stakes wins indicate the form hasn’t held up but he does own a favorable Derby profile and should be fitter and stronger for his next start in the Kentucky Derby-G1.



6 – GIRVIN (J. Sharp) – 120

Brown colt, 3, by Tale of Ekati-Catch the Moon, by Malibu Moon

Race Record: 4-3-1-0 ($874,400). Derby Points: 150

Last start: April 1, Fair Grounds, Louisiana Derby-G2, finished first.  SEE VIDEO

Last workout: April 29, Keeneland, 5f-:59.3b

Next probable start: May 6, 2017, Churchill Downs, Kentucky Derby-G1

​$130,000 yearling, second foal, half-brother to Grade-3 SW Cocked and Load; undefeated in three outings on dirt (only defeat came on turf) and was workmanlike in victory when capturing the moderately-rated 9F Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds April 1 by 1 1/4 lengths over recent maiden winner Patch, settling in second flight before responding to edge clear late; had been fairly convincing when capturing 8.5F Risen Star S.-G2 in late February by 2 lengths from Untrapped (settled in mid-pack before rallying inside going away); previously had won debut sprinting in December with pace-pressing trip before finishing second in 8f turf listed stakes the following month; pedigree indicates Derby trip will be taxing but style suggests distance may not be an issue; has every right to continue to improve with experience and appears to be game and genuine but will be facing considerably tougher company in his next appearance in the Kentucky Derby-G1.



7 – THUNDER SNOW (S. bin-Suroor) – 120

Bay colt, 3, by Helmet-Eastern Joy, by Dubai Destination

Race record: 8-4-2-0 ($1,627,541). Derby points: 100

Last start:  March 25, Meydan, U.A.E. Derby-G2, finished first.  SEE VIDEO

Last workout: none since raced

Next probable start: May 6, Churchill Downs, Kentucky Derby-G1

​​Homebred, half-brother to graded SW’s Ihtimal and First Victory plus listed SW Always Smile; sire multiple Group-1 winner in Australia; winner of last three starts including 9.5f U.A.E. Derby-G2 in late March (by head in final strides from Epicharis and Master Plan despite switching leads repeatedly and racing erratically in final furlong) and 8f U.A.E. 1000 Guineas the previous month (easily by 5 ¾ lengths though failing to change leads until crossing wire), both on dirt at Meydan; completed very successful juvenile campaign in November when winning 6.5f Criterium International-G1 at Saint-Cloud; also had been multiple Grade-2 placed sprinting in Great Britain during the summer; genuine, consistent, and versatile with good tactical speed; currently training in England and is far from certain to be a participant in the American classics though is guaranteed a slot in the Kentucky Derby field should connection wish; intriguing if he invades.



8 – GORMLEY (J. Shirreffs) – 119

Bay colt, 3, by Malibu Moon-Race to Urga, by Bernstein

Race record: 6-4-0-0 ($920,000). Derby points: 125

Last start: April 8, Santa Anita, Santa Anita Derby-G1, finished first.  SEE VIDEO

Last workout: April 29, Santa Anita,7f-1:28h

Next probable start: May 6, Churchill Downs, Kentucky Derby-G1

$150K yearling (RNA); talented but inconsistent colt rose to the occasion to capture 9f Santa Anita Derby-G1 with a change in style, settling in mid-pack and then responding with a steady, grinding bid to wear down Battle of Midway by ¾ length in low-rated affair; had disappointed in previous outing when pressing the pace to the turn before fading readily in San Felipe S.-G2 (fourth, beaten 10 lengths, to Mastery); began 2017 with a game score in the 8.5f Sham S.-G3 (from American Anthem) over a wet track; enjoyed productive juvenile campaign, winning 6f debut at Del Mar and 8.5F FrontRunner S.-G1 but was never a serious threat when seventh (beaten 16 lengths) in BC Juvenile to complete 2-year-old season; currently in an every-other-race-is-good pattern which doesn’t bode well for his next scheduled start in the Kentucky Derby-G1.



9 – LOOKIN AT LEE (S. Asmussen) – 118

Bay colt, 3, by Lookin At Lucky-Langara Lass, by Langfuhr

Race Record: 9-2-2-2 ($452,795). Derby points: 32

Last start: April 15, Oaklawn Park, Arkansas Derby-G1, finished third.  SEE VIDEO

Last workout: May 1, Churchill Downs, 4f-:50.1b

Next start: May 6, Churchill Downs, Kentucky Derby-G1

$70,000 yearling; half-brother to listed SW Battlefield Angel (by Proud Citizen); dam minor stakes winner in Western Canada; deep closer has steadily rising speed figures and earned a career top when rallying from 10th to third in 9f Arkansas Derby-G1 (beaten 1 ½ lengths by Classic Empire) in most recent start, altering course in final furlong to finish with excellent energy; best previous efforts had been when a distant third (beaten 12 lengths) in Southwest S.-G3 in February and when fourth (beaten 12 lengths) in Breeders’ Cup Juvenile-G1 in November); had been successful in listed 7f Ellis Park Juvenile, a distant runner-up to Not This Time in 8.5F Iroquois S. and again second when rallying from far back without truly threatening in Breeders’ Futurity-G2 earlier in his juvenile campaign; should relish Derby’s 12-furlong trip and beyond and in nine career starts has never taken a backward move in terms of speed figures; so far has been completely void of tactical speed and may always be pace/traffic dependent but has outside chance for a minor award in Kentucky with fast pace and good racing luck.



10 – BATTLE OF MIDWAY (J. Hollendorfer) – 117

Bay colt, 3,  by Smart Strike – Rigoletta, by Concerto

Race record: 4-1-1-1 ($290,000). Derby points: 40

Last start:Last start: April 8, Santa Anita, Santa Anita Derby-G1, finished second.  SEE VIDEO

Last workout: April 28, Santa Anita, 6f-1:13.2h

Next probable start: May 6, Churchill Downs, Kentucky Derby-G1

$410,000 yearling, dam won Oak Leaf S.-G1, excellent mover with easy, fluid action; never off the board in four career starts and ran his best race to date when pressing hot fractions and battling bravely to the end to finish second (by 1/2 length to Gormley) in modestly-rated 9f Santa Anita Derby-G1 in April; had won 8.5f first level allowance race in March at Santa Anita (by a neck from Reach the World and was third the previous month in 7f San Vicente S.-G2 (by 8 lengths to Iliad); won his debut in January in hot 6f maiden sprint; appears most effective when held up early though he possesses the speed to set or press quick fractions; has been quite impressive in workouts since his most recent start and likely has plenty of improvement in him; Derby distance might be stretching his limit at this stage of his development but should stay 10 furlongs eventually; excellent prospect but could use a bit more experience before tackling the best in his division.




Jeff Siegel’s Blog: Triple Crown Tracker (May 2, 2017)

Jeff Siegel's Blog |

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>