NTRA Top 10: Why Ron the Greek Is No. 1 This Week
Every week, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association releases a poll of the top horses racing in the United States. These horses are selected by the votes of multiple journalists around the country.
Even though some of these horses may not have been on the track in the last week, or even the last month, they have made a big enough impression on voters so that they were able to stay on the list.
Who do you think was left off and who deserves to be higher or lower on the list?
No. 10: Bodemeister
Bodemeister hasn't been on the track since the Preakness Stakes last month, but his performances the first half of the year still have the voters impressed.
The Empire Maker colt only has two wins this year, but his four seconds, including two in the Triple Crown, have been impressive enough to make him one of only two 3-year-olds on this list.
After his rough Triple Crown Trail campaign, Bodemeister got some time off and returned to work on June 24 to go a handily 50.60 over four furlongs.
No. 9: Successful Dan
The first of two Dans on the Poll this week, Successful Dan is sitting in the No. 9 position, even after not racing since Kentucky Derby weekend.
Successful Dan is undefeated in two starts this year, but his main staying point is his win in the G2 Alysheba Stakes on Kentucky Oaks day.
In his career, the first Dan also has graded stakes wins in the G3 Northern Dancer Stakes and G2 Greenbrier Fayette Stakes.
No. 8: Alternation
Even with his fifth place in the G1 Stephen Foster Handicap on June 16, Alternation still holds a place in the top 10. However, it's not a spot that he's just been given as he has four stakes wins to his name in five starts this year, including three Graded Stakes.
Alternation may have had hit a bump in the road this month, but if his early year form is any indication, he'll stay on this poll all year.
No. 7: Acclamation
It only took one race this year for California-bred Acclamation to get back on the Poll. The horse raced on June 9, winning impressively after coming back from an eight month layoff.
Last year, Acclamation won five of his seven starts but was sidelined in October after a win in the G2 Clement L. Hirsch Turf Championship Stakes. Acclamation's win this year came in the G1 Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap, his fifth Grade One victory, and third Whittingham win in as many years.
No. 6: I'll Have Another
Even with the news this week that I'll Have Another has been sold to Japan for stud duties, the colt is still on the Poll in the No. 6 spot.
I'll Have Another burst onto the scene this year by winning the G2 Robert B. Lewis Stakes in February before winning three Grade One races in a row, including the first two legs of the Triple Crown, to go four-for-four this year. He was scratched out of the Belmont Stakes and retired the day before the race due to a tendon issue.
No. 5: Royal Delta
Last year's Eclipse 3-Year-Old Filly winner is posed to make a serious bid for the Horse of the Year honor this year.
Royal Delta started the year off with a second place finish in the G3 Sabin Stakes before shipping to Dubai to finish ninth in the G1 Dubai World Cup after having a somewhat rough trip. But the filly came back to the track strong in June, winning the G2 Fleur de Lis Handicap by eight lengths after being allowed to gallop out to the wire.
If the filly defeats the boys a few times this year, a No. 5 spot on the Poll may be the smallest award she gets during the second half of the season.
No. 4: Wise Dan
The second Dan has made his appearance on the list. Wise Dan won the G3 Ben Ali Stakes at Keeneland back in April and finished second in the Stephen Foster this month for a record of 2-1-1-0.
The gelding ended his 2011 campaign with a win in the G1 Clark Handicap and has six stakes wins in his career, including five graded stakes wins. However, Wise Dan may have a setback after his jockey John Velazquez suffered a broken collar bone a few weeks ago.
No. 3: Game on Dude
Like Royal Delta, Game On Dude proved that the Dubai Curse was nothing to worry about in his return to the races after his 12th in the Dubai World Cup. The gelding finished first by seven-and-a-quarter lengths in the G2 Californian on June 2, making his record for 2012 3-2-0-0 after an earlier win in the G2 San Antonio Stakes.
In his two wins this year, Game On Dude has won by a combined twelve-and-a-half lengths.
No. 2: Shackleford
It may be hard to believe, but last year's Preakness Stakes winner Shackleford may have come to the track even better this year as a 4 year old.
Ranked No. 2 on this week's Poll, Shackleford is the winner of two of his four races this year and has only finished off the board once. His wins include the G1 Metropolitan Handicap on May 28 and the G2 Churchill Downs Stakes on Kentucky Derby day, his first win since the Preakness.
No. 1: Ron the Greek
Much like during the 2011 Breeders' Cup weekend , Bill Mott had an awesome night at Churchill on June 16 when he won the two biggest races on the card with Royal Delta and this week's No. 1 horse, Ron the Greek.
Ron the Greek's nail biting win in the G1 Stephen Foster two weeks ago is still in voters' minds as they put the 5-year-old horse in the top spot, even though he didn't race last weekend.
Ron the Greek has two Grade One wins under his belt already this year. He also won the G1 Santa Anita Handicap back in March. The horse has made four starts so far this year, finishing second in his other two races, the Florida Sunshine Millions Classic Stakes and the G2 Oaklawn Handicap.
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