The 2016 three-year-old season is off to a rousing start. Many horses have started to lay the groundwork for what their connections hope will be a championship season, while others are just getting started with their championship dreams. I have created a three-year-old power rankings listing of the horses I believe are the top five three-year-olds in training. I call this list “The Bloghorse Power 5.”
The rankings are not Kentucky Derby-specific, but, instead, summarize the crop as a whole. The rankings will be updated weekly and you can catch them all right here at USRacing.com:
Pedigree: Medgalia d’Oro- Ivanavinalot by West Acre
Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer
Jockey: Mike Smith
The undefeated Juvenile Fillies champion is the easy choice for the top spot this week in our rankings. She has a solid two-year-old base which includes three Grade I victories at three different race tracks. In last year’s Juvenile Fillies, Songbird earned the second-highest Beyer number of the Top 5 with a 99. The final time for the Juvenile Fillies was 1:42.73 which was one full second faster than Nyquist ran in his Juvenile-winning performance, which earned an 89 Beyer figure.
Songbird has been brought back this season in a traditional way by trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, by attacking the West Coast prep races for a run at the Kentucky Oaks. Her pace numbers are strong and she is able to put her foes away by the time they reach the eighth-pole. In her most recent performance, the Santa Ysabel, she carved out fractions of :23.2, :46.02, 1:09.98, 1:36.09 and 1:43.02. If you watch the replay of this race, make sure you watch how still Mike Smith is on her. While the others are in full flight to catch her, she is under a tight hold and still pulls away from them effortlessly. Songbird is something very special. She hasn’t showed us her best yet and that in itself is scary.
Pedigree: Uncle Mo- Seeking Gabrielle by Forestry
Trainer: Doug O’Neill
Jockey: Mario Gutierrez
Nyquist, the undefeated Juvenile Champion, inherits the no. 2 slot by default. As Ric Flair says: “In order to be the man, you have to beat the man.” Until proven otherwise, he will be representing the boys as the highest-rated three-year-old colt/gelding on this list. Just like Songbird, he has a solid two-year-old base that includes three Grade I wins and a Grade II score. He earned a career-top 101 Beyer figure in the first start of his three-year-old campaign (the Grade II San Vicente Stakes at Santa Anita Park). That 101 Beyer figure is currently the second-highest Beyer figure recorded by a three-year-old this season. The race only covered seven furlongs, but Nyquist showed his class in the race and proved to me that he might still be improving on his two-year-old form.
Pedigree: Tapit- Justwhistledixie by Dixie Union
Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin
Jockey: Junior Alvarado
It’s no disgrace to be third on this list and this dude will have his chance to unseat Nyquist when they face each other in the Florida Derby. He is undefeated and has won four straight Grade II events, with two of them coming as a two-year-old. His foundation is sound, with three races at age two and two races so far at age three. He has been well regarded his whole career, having been favored in all of his races to date. There are many who think that he has not improved since his Remsen score last November, but I am not one of them. His Beyer’s are stagnant, but I think his pattern is trending upwards. It will be can’t-miss TV when Nyquist and Mohaymen meet up in the Florida Derby. As Terrell Owens once said, “Get your popcorn ready.”
4. Brody’s Cause
Pedigree: Giant’s Causeway- Sweet Breanna by Sahm
Trainer: Dale Romans
Jockey: Corey Lanerie
If you throw out the first race of his career on turf, Brody’s Cause had an excellent two-year-old campaign. His win in the Grade I Breeders’ Futurity showed that he can power home like a locomotive when he gets things his way. His third-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile was better than it seemed, as he was slow to change leads at the top of the stretch. He has been training well for his return to the races this Saturday in the Tampa Bay Derby. If he can get through the Tampa Bay Derby unscathed, he will return to Keeneland to run in the Blue Grass Stakes for his final Kentucky Derby prep. The son of Giant’s Causeway doesn’t need to improve much to compete with many of three-year-olds this season. It’s not unrealistic to think he has a big chance to make an impact and move up these rankings.
5. Cathryn Sophia
Pedigree: Street Boss- Sheave by Mineshaft
Trainer: John Servis
Jockey: Joel Rosario
The three-year-old filly crop is a thing of beauty. Cathryn Sophia had two ungraded wins under her belt as a two-year -old. She owns the highest Beyer figure of the three-year-old crop so far this season at a mile or more, securing a 98 in her last race, the Grade II Davona Dale. She doesn’t just win races, she destroys them. This undefeated filly has won her four races by a combined 41 lengths (no, that’s not a typo). Even more scary is the fact that she has learned to harness her speed and rate. Laugh at her at no. 5 if you will, but this miss has done nothing wrong so far and seems to be getting better.