McCraken still tops NTRA top 3yo poll; PA-bred Unique Bella rising

by | Mar 6, 2017 | Breaking, National news, Racing, Triple Crown Trail

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From a National Thoroughbred Racing Association release

This past weekend of prep races for the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” jostled the top-ten rankings with races cross crossing the east, west and southern coasts in week six of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) Top 3-Year-Old Poll, released today.

With defeats over the weekend, both Maryland-based El Areeb and New Jersey-bred fell  out of the Top Three-Year-Old poll. Unique Bella, the Pennsylvania-bred filly, however, moved up in that poll following her win in the Grade 3 Santa Ysabel.

Still ranked number one is McCraken (13 first-place votes, 312 points) for Whitham Thoroughbreds LLC’s and trainer Ian Wilkes. Currently with 20 qualifying points, the G3 Sam F. Davis S. winner is ranked eighth on the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard for a starting berth in the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 6.

Moving up the ladder from tenth to second this week for Peacock Racing Stable is Gunnevera ( 9 first-place votes, 292 points) after his 5 ¾-length victory in the Fountain of Youth S. (G2) at Gulfstream Park. The Dialed In colt leads the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard with 64 points for trainer Antonio Sano. He will be targeting the G1 Florida Derby, April 1 for his next start.

Mastery (4 first-place votes, 251 points) who is yet to make his first start this year retains his third position. Meanwhile the sensational filly, Unique Bella (8 first-place votes, 223 points) moves up two notches to fourth after her smashing 2 ¼ lengths win in the Santa Ysabel S. (G3) at Santa Anita this past Saturday. The massive Tapit filly is ranked number one on the Kentucky Oaks Leaderboard for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer and Don Alberto Stable.

Classic Empire ( 1 first-place vote, 156 points), Gormley ( 1 first-place vote,151 points) and One Liner (128) stand at fifth, six and seventh respectively.

Welcoming into the top-ten and ranked eighth is the recent Aqueduct Gotham S. (G3) winner J Boys Echo (2 first-place votes, 111 points). Owned by Albaugh Racing Stable and trained by Dale Romans, J Boys Echo earned 50 Kentucky Derby qualifying points guaranteeing a spot in the starting gate a shot at the roses. J Boys Echo scored his first stakes win following promising finishes in the Grade 3 Delta Jackpot (fourth) last fall and the Grade 3 Withers (third) on February 4 at the Big A.

Rounding out the field are: Girvin (110) and Practical Joke (94).

The NTRA Top 3-Year-Old Poll is the sport’s most comprehensive survey of experts ranking the generation of Thoroughbreds that includes all Triple Crown contenders. Every week eligible journalists and broadcasters cast votes for their top 10 horses, with points awarded on a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. The Top 3-Year-Old Poll concludes June 12 after the Belmont Stakes.

The NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll for all horses remains mostly status quo with one exception. The Kentucky Oaks favorite, three-year-old filly Unique Bella moved into tenth position in this week’s top-ten.

Eclipse Award Champion Arrogate (39 first-place votes, 390 points) received all first place votes after his spectacular win in the inaugural running of the $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) at Gulfstream Park on January 28. The Bob Baffert, Juddmonte trainee is being pointed towards the $10 million Dubai World Cup on March 25.

Ranked second is 2016 Eclipse Champion Female Songbird (306), followed by Gun Runner (276) and Eclipse Award Turf Champion Tepin (224) in fourth.

Rounding out the top-ten are: Shaman Ghost (203); Hoppertunity (136); Drefong (74); Lady Eli (68), Neolithic (68) and Unique Bella (57).

The NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll concludes November 6 after the running of the Breeders’ Cup.


3Gun Runner276
5Shaman Ghost203
8Lady Eli68
10Unique Bella57


4Unique Bella223
5Classic Empire156
7One Liner128
8J Boys Echo111
10Practical Joke94