Justify reigns supreme in NTRA Top Thoroughbred Polls
From a National Thoroughbred Racing Association release
The unbeaten chestnut colt Justify, whose 16-week epic journey from unraced maiden to Triple Crown winner has expanded the conventional thinking as to a Thoroughbred racehorse’s capabilities, was a unanimous choice atop the year’s final NTRA Top 3-Year-Old Poll.
Trained by Bob Baffert for owners China Horse Club, WinStar Farm, Starlight Racing, and Head of Plains Partners, the son of Scat Daddy won Saturday’s 150th Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets (G1) by 1 3/4 lengths under jockey Mike Smith, capping a sweep of the three most important 3-year-old stakes races, also including the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) and the Preakness Stakes (G1). Justify is a perfect six-for-six since winning on debut in February and also won the Santa Anita Derby (G1) in April.
Justify earned all 42 first-place votes in this week’s poll for the maximum 420 points. Last year’s Eclipse Award-winning Champion 2-Year-Old Male Good Magic, who was second in the Kentucky Derby and gave Justify his biggest test to date in the Preakness, was second in the poll with 339 points, followed by Xpressbet Florida Derby (G1) winner and Kentucky Derby third Audible with 282 points.
Superfilly Monomoy Girl, winner of three straight Grade 1 events, including the Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1) and Saturday’s Acorn Stakes (G1) at Belmont, continued to climb the rankings as she further distinguishes herself against the best fillies of her generation, charted fourth with 260 points.
Belmont third Hofburg (180 points) moved up to fifth in the poll, while Gronkowski (175), the longshot Belmont runner-up named for New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, made his way into the top 10 for the first time, landing in sixth on the basis of his late-running effort Saturday.
The rest of the top 10 was rounded out by Preakness runner-up Bravazo (123), Wood Memorial (G1) winner Vino Rosso (98), Derby fifth at Lexington Stakes (G3) winner My Boy Jack (72), and Belmont fifth and Preakness third Tenfold (63).
The NTRA Top Thoroughbred polls are the sport’s most comprehensive surveys of experts. 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.
Justify also reigns as the leading U.S. racehorse overall in the NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll for horses of all ages. For the first time this year, the nation’s top 3-year-old overtook his 4-year-old stablemate West Coast, who began his year with runner-up finished in the world’s two richest races, the $16 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) and the $10 million Dubai World Cup (G1). Justify garnered 389 points, including 38 first-place votes, while West Coast ranked third with 292 points and two first-place votes. Last week the Baffert trainees tied for the number-one ranking.
Accelerate, winner of the prestigious Gold Cup at Santa Anita (G1), moved into second with 313 points despite being the only horse in the top five without a first-place vote.
The highest-ranked female, Unique Bella (220 points), easy winner of the Beholder Mile (G1) two weekends ago, and Mind Your Biscuits (180), second in the Runhappy Metropolitan Handicap on Saturday, each earned a single first-place vote. Bee Jersey (179), the “Met Mile” winner over Mind Your Biscuits, entered the top 10 for the first time at sixth with the just one point less than the horse he beat.
The rest of the top 10 was comprised of Saturday’s Ogden Phipps (G1) heroine Abel Tasman (136), Triple Bend Stakes (G1) and Oaklawn Handicap (G2) winner City of Light (126), Carter Handicap (G1) hero Army Mule (86), and the dominant 3-year-old filly Monomoy Girl (80).
With the spring classics complete, all horses will now be eligible only for the NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll, which continues until November 5, after the Breeders’ Cup World Championships.