Anne M. Eberhardt

McCraken Retains First Spot in NTRA 3-Year-Old Poll

Undefeated McCraken ranks first for 3-year-olds; Arrogate Top Thoroughbred.

This past weekend may have left some folks scratching their heads a bit for a Derby prospect after the running of the grade 2 Rebel Stakes, a two-turn 1 1/16 miles event on dirt at Oaklawn Park as the "Road to the Kentucky Derby "continues in week eight of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) Top 3-Year-Old Poll, which results were released today.

The Rebel winner, Malagacy (1 first-place vote; 170 points) and another Todd Pletcher trainee jumps all the way up from the 25th slot to fifth in the top-ten. Owned by Sumaya U.S. Stable, the chestnut son of 2011 Preakness Stakes winner Shackleford , is now a perfect three for three for 2017. The victory earned him 50 qualifying points toward the Kentucky Derby and places him fourth of the list of 20 possible starters in the race. It is expected his next start will come in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby on April 15.

McCraken (13 first-place votes, 326 points) for Whitham Thoroughbreds LLC's and trainer Ian Wilkes remains in first place on the top-ten. Currently with 20 qualifying points, the G3 Sam F. Davis S. winner is ranked twelfth on the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard for a starting berth in the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 6.  The undefeated graded stakes winner is at Keeneland where he is preparing for the $1 million Toyota Blue Grass (G2) on April 8. 

Remaining in second for Peacock Racing Stable is Gunnevera (9 first-place votes, 310 points) after his 5 3/4 lengths victory in the Fountain of Youth S. (G2) at Gulfstream Park two weeks ago. The Dialed In  colt leads the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard with 64 points for trainer Antonio Sanos. He will be targeting the G1 Florida Derby, April 1 for his next start.

Unique Bella (6 first-place votes, 233 points) moves up to third. The Santa Ysabel S. (G3) winner at Santa Anita Park is ranked number one on the Kentucky Oaks Leaderboard for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer and Don Alberto Stable.

In fourth is Tapwrit (1 first-place vote, 214 points) for trainer Todd Pletcher. The South Tampa Bay Derby (G2) winner currently ranked second with 54 qualifying points on the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard.

Rounding out the field is: Classic Empire  (2 first-place votes, 138 points); Mastery  (135); One Liner (117); Practical Joke  (107) and Girvin (105).

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 horses four and up shows little change with the exception of the running of the Santa Margarita Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita Park this past Saturday. The winner, Vale Dori (73) has won her last five straight races, all of them grade one's. The five-year-old Argentina mare moves into the top-ten in eighth position for trainer Bob Baffert Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum. 

Eclipse Award Champion Arrogate  (37 first-place votes, 370 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 in Dubai preparing for his next start, the $10 million Dubai World Cup this coming Saturday, March 25.

Ranked second is Grade I Santa Anita Handicapped winner Shaman Ghost  (276) for trainer Jimmy Jerkens and Stronach Stables followed by Gun Runner (262). The 2016 Eclipse Champion Female Songbird (246) takes fourth followed with Eclipse Award Turf Champion Tepin (187) in fifth.

Rounding out the top-ten are: Hoppertunity (107); Midnight Storm  (88); Vale Dori (73); Lady Eli (60) and Neolithic (60).

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

The full results for both NTRA weekly Thoroughbred polls can be found on the NTRA website at:

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