by Nick Hahn
Nick’s picks for the top ten three year old horses in North America with at least one start on the turf in 2013. Though Nick picks ’em with an eye towards the Virginia Derby, four of these — Noble Tune (#1), Jack Milton (#3), Rydilluc (#5), and Charming Kitten (#9) — are entered in Saturday’s Penn Mile.
- NOBLE TUNE – Solid run in the American Turf over Derby weekend places Chad Brown’s colt by Unbridled Song atop the Turf Ten. The Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Turf runner up has 4 wins in his 5 starts and is the most proven over the last nine months. Shortens up in his next start Saturday night in the $500,000 Penn Mile but finds a tough field.
- UP WITH THE BIRDS – Before an easy victory in Woodbine’s Marine stakes on the synthetic over Memorial Day weekend, Malcolm Pierce’s Stormy Atlantic colt certainly saw some tough foes, perhaps the best on this roster. Only Javier Castellano’s nifty ride aboard on the winner kept this Canadian-bred on the winner from winning the Transylvania. It may be tough to lure him south of the border for the Virginia turf.
- JACK MILTON – If Todd Pletcher’s lightly raced colt had a few more outings, he may be ranked even higher. His Transylvania win was over a talented field. Gary Barber’s late foal didn’t have a start as a two-year old. Clashing with “co-Titan” Noble Tune in Saturday evening’s Penn Mile.
- WAR DANCER – Ken McPeek’s War Front colt ran out of turf in his stretch run in the American Turf. Jockey Alan Garcia may not wait so long in his next start. The winners in the turf races he’s lost? Noble Tune and Jack Milton. He has been working on a weekly basis at Churchill Downs.
- RYDILLUC – The Palm Beach stakes winner at Gulfstream couldn’t hold on to the lead in the Bluegrass on the synthetic. His front running style might be more questionable if Silver Max hadn’t virtually wired the Virginia Derby field last year. He’s perfect on the turf in three outings. The distance of the Penn Mile will certainly be an advantage.
- ADMIRAL KITTEN – Another “admiral” ride by Mike Smith was nearly good enough to collect the Arlington Classic over Memorial Day weekend. The Ramsey home-bred is one of many Kitten’s Joy offspring to watch this summer. Only one career win on the turf for Michael Maker’s pupil, but he’s been running well in tough company.
- GENERAL ELECTION – The Battaglia winner and first runner up in the Lexington Stakes made his first turf start a winning one in the Arlington Classic with a perfect Rocco ride. Winstar Farm’s colt by Harlan’s Holiday out of a Kingmambo mare sits behind runner up Admiral Kitten here — but perhaps only for the moment.
- TATTENHAM – Bill Mott’s Rock Hard Ten colt has only two starts for Juddmonte Farms, both impressive wins on the turf at Tampa. He’s been up north at Belmont Park since late April with solid morning works. Runs Thursday, May 30th at Belmont Park in an optional claiming allowance.
- CHARMING KITTEN – A suitable Derby effort for the Ramsey homebred in the Kentucky Derby slop shouldn’t set back Pletcher’s student in a transition back to the turf in Saturday’s Penn Mile. Looks like the flirtation with the Triple Crown dirt is over. In January, he won the Kitten’s Joy at Gulfstream, named after his sire.
- REDWOOD KITTEN – Wesley Ward will be bringing of portion of his stable to Colonial Downs this summer, so this Kitten’s Joy was a Virginia Derby prospect even before winning the Murphy over Preakness weekend at Pimlico. (Featured image is Redwood Kitten winning the Murphy. Photo by Jim McCue, Maryland Jockey Club.)