Pa-bred Unique Bella enters NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll after easy win

by | Feb 12, 2018 | Breaking, National news, Racing

Unique Bella. Photo courtesy Santa Anita Park.

From a National Thoroughbred Racing Association release

Week three of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) Top 3-Year-Old Poll shows slight movement and a new face in the top-ten after the running of the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes down at Tampa Bay Downs in Florida this past Saturday. The Sam F. Davis is a designated Kentucky Derby prep race worth 10-qualifying points to the winner as the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” continues.

Entering the poll for the first time in tenth is newcomer Flameaway (76) after his win in the Sam F. Davis. Flameaway earned 10-qualifying points on the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard. However, the Scat Daddy colt is not currently nominated to the Triple Crown, an oversight trainer Mark Casse and owner John Oxley realize after having missed the first deadline will need to be rectified by the next deadline March 19.

Eclipse Award-winning Champion Two-Year-Old Colt Good Magic remains in first-place with (28 first-place votes and 398 votes). Trained by Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown for Stonestreet Stables LLC the 2017 Sentient Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner is currently in training at Palm Meadows training center in south Florida preparing for his 2018 campaign. Good Magic leads the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard with 24 points. Points are awarded to the top four finishers in each race. The 20 horses with the most points will earn a spot in the starting gate on the first Saturday in May.

Remaining in second and third in week two on the ladder are Bolt d’ Oro ( 11 first-place votes; 344 points) and Sham Stakes (G3) winner McKinzie (1 first-place vote; 309 points). Trained and owned by Mick Ruis, Bolt d’ Oro is expected to take the Southern California route to the Derby and currently has 14 points on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard. McKenzie, with 20 qualifying Derby points, is expected to make his next start in the San Felipe Stakes on March 10 for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.

Remaining in fourth position is Holly Bull Stakes (G2) winner Audible (228) for trainer Todd Pletcher and owners WinStar Farm, China Horse Club and SF Racing Stable. Audible earned 10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points in the Holy Bull, and his next start could well come in the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park March 31.

Rounding out the field are: Instilled Regard (1 first-place vote; 201 points); Solomini (194); Avery Island (147); Flameaway (76); Catholic Boy (1 first place-vote; 75 points);and Mask (67).

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 11 after the Belmont Stakes.

On the poll of older horses, remaining in first is Eclipse Award Winning Champion for Three-Year-Old Males West Coast (20 first-place votes; 393 points) for trainer Bob Baffert and owners Gary and Mary West in the NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll for horses four and up. In his most recent start the son of Flatter finished second to Gun Runner in the Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) at Gulfstream Park. The $10 million Dubai World Cup Invitational at Meydan Racecourse in the United Arab Emirates on March 31 is under consideration for West Coast, according to Baffert.

This past Saturday brought the return of two Eclipse Award-winning Champions in winning form, that of World Approval and Unique Bella.

Saturday’s Tampa Bay Stakes (G3) winner and Champion Turf Eclipse Award winner World Approval (328) moved up a notch to claim second place for Mark Casse and owner Charlotte Weber of Live Oak Plantation. The six-year-old gelding is being pointed towards the Dubai Turf (G1) on March 31.

Moving down to third is Horse of the Year and Eclipse Award Champion Gun Runner (20 first-place votes; 243 points), who has been retired and is standing stud at Three Chimneys Farm.

Palos Verdes Stakes (G2) winner and Eclipse Champion Sprinter Roy H (1 first-place vote; 225 points) moves up to fourth. Owned by Rockingham Ranch and David A. Bernsen, LLC trainer Peter Miller indicated that the Grade I Triple Bend Stakes on March 10 at Santa Anita would likely be next for Roy H.

Making her 2018 debut in winning fashion is Eclipse Award Champion Female Sprinter Unique Bella (1 first-place vote; 217 points) who galloped in the Santa Maria Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita under a hand ride by regular rider and Hall of Famer Mike Smith. Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer indicated that Grade 1 Santa Margarita Invitation on March 17 could be her next start.

Rounding out the top-ten are: Forever Unbrdled (214); Gunnevera (137); Abel Tasman (131) Sharp Azteca (100) and Beach Patrol (75).

The NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll concludes November 5 after the running of the Breeders’ Cup.