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. Nick picks ’em with an eye towards the G2 Virginia Derby on July 13.
RYDILLUC – Everybody saw Jack Milton and Charming Kitten moving on Rydilluc in the Penn Mile, but remember that Edgar Prado’s mount does have a turf win at 9 furlongs in the Palm Beach Stakes at Gulfstream on the Bermuda, the same grass in the turf at Colonial. He’s perfect on the turf in four outings. Prado could be primed for Virginia Derby win #4, and his first in a while.
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 Noble Tune kept this Canadian-bred from winning the Transylvania. However, it may be tough to lure him south of the border for the Virginia turf with the Queen’s Plate on his mind.
CHARMING KITTEN – After a suitable Derby effort for the Ramsey homebred in the Kentucky Derby slop, he battled in the Penn Mile stretch and appears to be first in line should Rydilluc not make the mile and a quarter. Looks the flirt with the Triple Crown dirt is over. In March, he won the Kitten’s Joy at Gulfstream, named after his sire.
JACK MILTON – Another likely beneficiary of the Virginia Derby’s added distance who tested first runner up Charming Kitten in the Penn Mile stretch. His Transylvania win was over a talented field. Gary Barber’s late foal didn’t have a start as a two-year old but don’t go to sleep in this improving War Front colt.
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 winner’s in the turf races he lost? Noble Tune and Jack Milton. He has been working on a weekly basis at Churchill Downs, but might be headed to Royal Ascot.
NOBLE TUNE – Not the best of trips in the Penn Mile, but we were expecting a little bit more. He had a solid run in the American Turf over Derby weekend so he’s worthy of having a line drawn through his slow starting Penn Mile effort. The Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Turf runner up has 4 wins in his last 6 starts.
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 to be watching 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.
REDWOOD KITTEN – Wesley Ward will be bringing of portion of his stable to Colonial Downs this summer so this Kitten’s Joy gelding was a Virginia Derby prospect even before winning the Murphy over Preakness weekend at Pimlico.
HARDEST CORE – This son of Hard Spuns owns the final spot by virtue of an intense lobbying campaign by ‘capper extraordinaire Derby Bill Watson and a recent maiden-breaking win at the Virginia Derby distance of 1 1/4 miles. The horse he nosed out for this spot, North Slope, actually defeated Hardest Core in a maiden race in February and owns two turf wins, both, however, at shorter distances.
(Featured image is Rydilluc winning the Penn Mile. Photo by B & D Photography.)