Top 12 Racehorses in North America: Pre-Breeders’ Cup Edition

October 21, 2016

The NTRA has its poll, and we have ours. And our poll is longer, stronger and righter.

We are but a fortnight away from the Breeders’ Cup 2016 at Santa Anita, which for the Top 12 means the prelims are over. It’s game time.

Horse Network’s Top 12 Racehorses in North America


1. California Chrome
5 yo horse by Lucky Pulpit, Love the Chase (Not for Love)

Owner/trainer/jockey: California Chrome, LLC / Art Sherman / Victor Espinoza

Big fella is now 5 for 5 in 2016 and looks like a lock for his second Horse of the Year crown. After a rocky, injury-plagued 2015, Chrome hasn’t missed a step this year and is clearly a different animal. Credit to his team for keeping him happy and healthy. They have indeed created a monster whose focus has now caught up to his talent, and he’ll be the rightful odds on favorite in the Classic. The fairytale continues…

Next up: Breeders’ Cup Classic, 11/5 @ Santa Anita


2. Tepin
5 yo mare by Bernstein, Life Happened (Stravinsky)

Robert Masterson / Mark Casse / Julien Leparoux

Sure, Her Highness had the 8-race win streak snapped earlier this month in the First Lady, but it does little to dent the legend she’s created this year. Simply put, this mile monster is in the midst of one of the greatest runs in modern memory. She’s been all around the world to take on the best of the best and has made it look easy. Males fear her, females want to be her. She’s quite simply “The Queen”.

Next up: Breeders’ Cup Mile, 11/5 @ Santa Anita


3. Songbird
3 yo filly by Medaglia D’Oro, Ivanavinalot (West Acre)

Foxhill Farms / Jerry Hollendorfer / Mike Smith

The sheer fact this unbeatable filly is not the clear #1 horse in training is quite a testament to the current state of thoroughbred racing here in North America. Because she is truly something special. Not only has she won all 11 of her career starts, she’s never been threatened. Fact is, there isn’t a 3-year-old filly of her class on the planet. She’s not just the sport’s top filly for her age, she’s the best 3-year-old, period, and deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Ruffian and Rachel.

Next up: Breeders’ Cup Distaff, 11/4 @ Santa Anita


4. Flintshire
6 yo horse by Dansili, Dance Routine (Sadler’s Wells)

Juddmonte Farm / Chad Brown / Javier Castellano

Yeah, he finally tasted defeat in his last, but quite frankly, this Euro-import has no equal here in the States going long on the grass. Of course, there will be a mighty fleet of world travelers awaiting him at Santa Anita, a far cry from the short, overmatched fields of New York.

Next up: Breeders’ Cup Turf, 11/5 @ Santa Anita


5. Frosted
4 yo colt by Tapit, Fast Cookie (Deputy Minister)

Godolphin / Kiaran McLaughlin / Joel Rosario

The well-bred grey came back to earth a bit late this summer, but his prior dominance speak for itself. While his best stuff has come at the one-turn mile, his connections have opted to send him out in the Classic.

Next up: Breeders’ Cup Classic 11/5 @ Santa Anita



6. Lady Eli 
4 yo filly by Divine Park, Sacre Coeur (Saint Ballado)

Sheep Pond Partners / Chad Brown / Irad Ortiz

After coming up just short in her long anticipated comeback, this miracle filly showed she’s still got it by taking down the Flower Bowl and reclaiming her spot atop the F&M turf division. She’ll have her work cut out for her against a stacked field in the F&M Turf, but not sure anyone has more heart.

Next up: Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, 11/4 @ Santa Anita


7. Arrogate
3 yo colt by Unbridled’s Song, Bubbler (Elusive Quality)

Juddmonte Farms / Bob Baffert / Mike Smith or Rafael Bejarano

His otherworldly effort in the Travers will be talked about forever, but one can’t help but wonder if the lightly raced colt is indeed a bonafide freak of nature. Baffert has been training this youngster up to the Classic ever since, which is shaping up to be…well, a classic. He has the ability, no question, but does he have the fortitude to rumble with the heavyweights?

Next Up: Breeders’ Cup Classic, 11/5 @ Santa Anita


8. A.P. Indian
6 yo gelding by Indian Charlie, Ender’s Sister (A.P. Indy)

Green Lantern Stables / Arnaud Delacour / Joe Bravo

What a story this little gelding has become. While his potential has always been there, racing luck was no where to be found. Repeated setbacks threatened to derail his career before ever taking off, until finally it all came together this Spring. All he’s done since is reel off 6 wins in a row, blazing track records in his last two starts at Saratoga and Keeneland. That’s special.

Next up: Breeders’ Cup Sprint, 11/5 @ Santa Anita
9. Stellar Wind
4 yo filly by Curlin, Evening Star (Malibu Moon)

Hronis Racing / John Sadler / Victor Espinoza

After unsuccessfully chasing Beholder around for seemingly her entire career, she’s finally turned the tables on her older foe in her last two efforts. She clearly has game, and if she continues moving forward, look out.

Next up: Breeders’ Cup Distaff, 11/4 @ Santa Anita
10. Beholder

6 yo mare by Henny Hughes, Leslie’s Lady (Tricky Creek)

Spendthrift Farm / Richard Mandella / Gary Stevens

Yeah, she’s on a relative “skid”, but it’s hard to knock this champion mare for the runner-up effort to California Chrome in the Pacific Classic and her double duels with the improving Stellar Wind. She might not be quite what she was at 5, but she’s still capable of putting up a big figure.

Next up: Breeders’ Cup Distaff, 11/4 @ Santa Anita


11. Dortmund
4yo colt by Big Brown, Our Josephina (Tale of the Cat)

Kaleem Shah / Bob Baffert / Rafael Bejarano

Give this imposing chestnut credit—his four career losses have come at the hooves of just two horses: American Pharoah (twice) and California Chrome (twice). No shame in being a notch below those two titans. After repeated setbacks early in his career, he’s finally strung together some consistent training. His connections wisely opted to enter this 17+hh behemoth in the Dirt Mile over the Classic. Why test Chrome (and workmate Arrogate) again, when the Dirt Mile is ripe the taking?

Next up: Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, 11/4 @ Santa Anita


12. Runhappy
4 yo colt by Super Saver, Bella Jolie (Broken Vow)

James McIngvale / Laura Wohlers / Edgar Prado, Gary Stevens

Ok, hear me out. Yes, he was badly beaten in the Ack Ack in his first and only start of 2016. But we’ve all seen what he can do, and just think about all the hurdles he’s having to overcome here with, shall we say, “unconventional” connections hell-bent on making this unbeatable sprinter a miler. Sigh…

Next up: Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, 11/4 @ Santa Anita


Also-ran: Lord Nelson, Time and Motion, Melatonin, Miss Temple City, Nyquist, Erupt

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