Classic Empire Takes First in NTRA 3-Year-Old Poll

Classic Empire Takes First in NTRA 3-Year-Old Poll
Photo: Coady Photography
Classic Empire wins the Arkansas Derby

The "Road to the Kentucky Derby" ran its final two Derby prep races for 3-year-olds and with it came along some changes but not a clear runaway choice in week 12 of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) Top 3-Year-Old Poll, which results were released April 17.

John and Debby Oxley's reigning 2-year-old champion Classic Empire (13 first-place votes, 359 points) ranked seventh last week slides into first after winning the Arkansas Derby (GI) at Oaklawn Park April 15. The Pioneerof the Nile colt trained by Mark Casse is ranked second with 132 qualifying points on the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard for a starting berth in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands at Churchill Downs May 6.

Having been ranked in first-place on the poll last week Always Dreaming (12 first-place votes; 310 points) relinquished his positon from first to second. The Xpressbet Florida Derby (G1) winner is currently ranked seventh on the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard with 100 qualifying points for trainer Todd Pletcher and owners Brooklyn Boyz Stable, MeB Racing Stable, Teresa Viola Racing Stables, St. Elias Stables, West Point Thoroughbreds, and Siena Farm.

Irish War Cry (6 first-place votes, 301 points) slides down a notch from second to third. The Wood Memorial Presented by NYRA Bets (G2) Curlin colt is owned and breed by Isabelle de Tomaso and trained by Graham Motion. The sophomore is ranked fifth with 110 qualifying Derby points.  

Ranked fourth is the Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby (G2) winner, Girvin (1 first place vote, 248 points). The Brad Grady, Joe Sharp trainee is ranked number one on the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard with 150 points.

Ian Wilkes trainee McCraken (3 first-place votes, 196 points) remains in fifth on the top-ten after finishing third in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G2) at Keeneland. Owned by Whitham Thoroughbreds LLC the Ghostzapper colt is currently ranked sixteenth with 40 qualifying points on the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard.

Ranked sixth is Peacock Racing Stable is Gunnevera (1 first-place vote, 188 points). Trained by Antonio Sanos, the Dialed In colt is ranked eighth with 84 qualifying points on the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard.

Gormley (1 first-place vote; 134 points ) the Santa Anita Derby (G1) slips from sixth to seventh on the NTRA top-ten ladder. Ridden by Victor Espinoza, trained by John Shirreffs, and owned by Jerry and Ann Moss, the Malibu Moon colt is ranked third with a total of 125 Derby qualifying points. 

Rounding out the field is: Unique Belle (1 first-place vote; 92 points); Mastery (2 first-place votes; 79 points), and Practical Joke (74).

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.

For the third week in a row the first five top ranked horses remain as status quo on this week's NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll for horses four and up. 

The number one ranked horse, $10 million Dubai World Cup Sponsored by Emirates Airline (G1) winner and Eclipse Award champion Arrogate (41 first place votes; 410 points) with earnings of $17,084,600 is to take some time and freshen up as he prepares for his next engagement, the $1 million TVG Pacific Classic (G1) Aug. 19 at Del Mar, according to his trainer Bob Baffert and owner Juddmonte Farm. 

Standing in second in the top-ten is the second place finisher from the Dubai World Cup, Gun Runner (357) for trainer Steve Asmussen and Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimneys Farm. 

Grade I Santa Anita Handicap winner Shaman Ghost (296) remains in third for trainer Jimmy Jerkens and Stronach Stables.  

2016 Eclipse Champion Female Songbird (240) remains in fourth for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer followed by Neolithic (150) in fifth.

Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) winner Mind Your Biscuits (135) moves up a step in sixth for the 32-year-old trainer Chad Summers with Eclipse Award Turf Champion Tepin (133) dropping down a notch to seventh for trainer Mark Casse.

Ranked eighth after making her first start since finishing fourth in the Breeders' Cup for the first time is the Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) winner Stellar Wind (105) for owners Hronis Racing LLC and trainer John Sadler. The now 5-year-old Curlin mare, voted champion 3-year-old filly of 2015, improved her career record to eight wins from 14 starts.

Rounding out the last two places on the top-ten are: Vale Dori (78) and Lady Eli (34).  

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

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