NTRA Thoroughbred Poll: Taking a Look at This Week's Horses
This week's NTRA Thoroughbred Poll has some superstars that impressed on the track last weekend, and others that have faced a bit of controversy. While the Poll is again focused more on the older horses, there's a lot to be excited about as we work our way towards the fall.
Without further ado, here are the Top 10 horses for the week of August 13, according the media.
No. 10: Paynter
This week's No. 10 is the Bob Baffert-trained Paynter. One of only two three-year-olds on the list this week, Paynter won the G1 Haskell Invitational on July 29 but will skip the Travers due to a fever after his Haskell win.
Paynter debuted in February and has been on track to become one of the top three-year-olds since his maiden victory. He finished fourth in the G1 Santa Anita Derby in his second start and finished second in the G1 Belmont Stakes and G3 Derby Trial Stakes.
The Haskell was his first stakes victory.
Paynter currently has $952,224 in earnings and has only been off the board once.
No. 9: Shackleford
2012 G1 Metropolitan Handicap winner Shackleford fell from eighth to ninth this week on the Poll.
Shackleford has made his presence known as a top older horse this year, winning the G2 Churchill Downs Stakes and G1 Metropolitan Handicap. The colt also finished second in the G1 Carter Handicap in April.
His last-place finish in the August 5 G1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap was a disappointment, but the performance can be brushed off with the excuse that the horse does not like mud.
So far this year, Shackleford has a record of two wins and one show in five starts for $758,244 in earnings.
No. 8: I'll Have Another
The winner of two legs of this year's Triple Crown is still holding on to a place on the Poll, even months after his retirement. He did fall from seventh to eighth this week, but earned 167 points in the voting.
I'll Have Another arrived in Japan at Big Red Farm last week, where he will stand stud starting next year. He was scratched from the Belmont and retired after it was discovered he had an injury.
No. 7: Fort Larned
A horse that has quietly been making his way up the older horse ladder, Fort Larned won the August 4 G1 Whitney Invitational by one and one-fourth lengths over some of the best horses running in America.
The Whitney isn't Fort Larned's only victory this year, as he also won the Challenger Stakes, the G3 Skip Away and the G3 Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap, in addition to finishing second in the G2 Alysheba Stakes.
In his seven starts this year, the horse has finished first four times and hit the place position once for $798,455 in earnings.
No. 6: Acclamation
A horse that keeps racking up Graded Stakes victories is No. 7 in the Poll this week. Acclamation hasn't lost since April of last year, although he has only run twice in 2012.
The California-based horse has victories in the G1 Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap and G1 Eddie Read Stakes this year, both races he won in 2011.
His two victories earned him three first-place votes this week, but he dropped from fifth to sixth. If he stays sound until the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita, he will probably be one of the favorites in whatever race he enters.
No. 5: Royal Delta
This year's top filly is none other than last year's Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic winner, Royal Delta. As the only female on the Poll, she takes the No. 5 position, two down from her spot last week.
Royal Delta pulled off a nail-biting win in the G2 Delaware Handicap on July 21 for her second graded stakes win of the year. The filly has finished in the first or second spot in every start this year, except for the G1 Dubai World Cup, where she finished ninth.
So far this year, she has won $569,251 in earnings.
No. 4: Ron the Greek
Trainer Bill Mott not only has Royal Delta in the No. 5 spot on this Poll, he also has Ron the Greek in the fourth position.
Ron the Greek stays in the same spot this week, only one of three horses to do so.
Ron the Greek's last race was a second in the G1 Whitney Invitational Handicap, following up his G1 Stephen Foster Handicap victory in June.
The five-year-old hasn't finished worse than second in his five starts this year, winning two times for earnings of $1,022,932, or an average earnings per start of $204,586.
The horse has really come into his own since November of 2011, winning four races in that time.
No. 3: Wise Dan
This week's major jump award goes to Wise Dan, who moved from 10th to third on the Poll.
The five-year-old gelding's major improvement on the Poll can be credited to his five-length G2 Fourstardave Handicap victory on the turf last weekend.
Wise Dan's victory showed how versatile the gelding is, as he also has wins on all weather and dirt surfaces in the last nine months, including the G2 Fayette Stakes and G1 Clark Handicap.
One of the Dan brothers (Successful Dan is his half brother), Wise Dan has won two of his three starts this year for $474,817 in earnings.
No. 2: Mucho Macho Man
A big, gangly three-year-old last year, Mucho Macho Man has turned into the best four-year-old male on the track this year.
Holding on to the No. 2 position after a victory in the G2 Suburban Handicap last month, Mucho Macho Man has won three of his four starts this year.
His other victories came in the Florida Sunshine Millions Classic Stakes and G2 Gulfstream Park Handicap, while his only third came in the G2 Alysheba Stakes on Kentucky Derby weekend.
Last year, the colt won the G2 Risen Star Stakes and finished third in the G1 Kentucky Derby, but he seems like a whole new horse in 2012, with a more workman-like attitude that has served him well so far.
No. 1: Game on Dude
Another Baffert trainee with controversy surrounding him, Game on Dude holds the No. 1 spot for another week.
Game On Dude's regular jockey, Chantal Sutherland, is facing a suspension due to a whip infraction at Ascot Racecourse last weekend, but her agent, Tommy Ball, promises that she will be on the gelding for the G1 TVG Pacific Classic.
Game On Dude has won three of his four races this year, with his only non-victory being a 12th-place finish in the Dubai World Cup.
So far this year, the gutsy gelding has wins in the G2 San Antonio Stakes, the G2 Californian Stakes and the G1 Hollywood Gold Cup for $510,000 in 2012 earnings.
He has held the No. 1 spot on the Poll since the second week of July.