Drew Morisch’s Breeders’ Cup Rankings: Week 1

* The weekly divisional ratings are based on an opinion of the top 10 horses in each division, both national and international.
* Two-year-old ranking will debut late summer.

Three-Year-Old Dirt Males

Nyquist after winning the 2016 Kentucky Derby.

Nyquist after winning the 2016 Kentucky Derby.

1) Nyquist: The Kentucky Derby winner has been idle since his defeat in the Preakness Stakes (GI), but has returned to the track to begin preparations for his fall campaign. He has the credentials and the back class to retain the top spot in this division. He will stay at the top of the division until proven otherwise.  We will see his return to the races in the Haskell Invitational (GI).

2) Exaggerator: A disappointing Belmont Stakes clouds an impressive Triple Crown season for the son of Curlin. Perhaps he had tired legs and just didn’t have anything left for the mile and one half voyage in “The Test of the Champion” or, perhaps, he really does rely on an off track to be at his best. There are more questions than answers with this colt, but he can answer the bell rather quickly in his first race back to the track, which will probably be in the Jim Dandy at Saratoga.

3) Gun Runner: The son of Candy Ride enjoyed an easy return to the races in the Matt Winn (GIII) at Churchill Downs.  After finishing a strong third in the Kentucky Derby (GI), he put the Matt Winn field away at the top of the stretch and never looked back. All signals seem to point at him going after the Haskell Invitational (GI) and another shot at Nyquist.

4) Creator: The Belmont Stakes (GI) champion threw his hat in the ring for divisional honors with his win in New York. He arguably had the worst trip of any runner in the Kentucky Derby but had no such issues in the Belmont Stakes. This guy will loom large when he takes on Exaggerator again in the Jim Dandy.

5) Destin: He looked like the Belmont Stakes winner until the final strides when Creator just nipped him at the wire.  He should move forward based on that effort, but it is yet to be seen where he will show up next.  Perhaps a matchup against Exaggerator in the Jim Dandy or against Nyquist  in the Haskell might be in the cards for this colt.


6) American Freedom,  7) Mohaymen,  8) Mor Spirit,  9) Lani,  10) Stradivari

Three-Year-Old Dirt Females



1) Songbird: Showed a new element to her game when winning the Summertime Oaks (GII). The undefeated daughter of Medaglia d’ Oro was unable to gain a lead early in the race for the first time in her career. She sat just outside her rival and still showed her dominance by passing that rival around the far turn and winning the race in a light jog by six and a half lengths. She heads east to take on much tougher rivals in the Coaching Club American Oaks (GI) on Saturday.

2) Carina Mia: Her impressive win in the Acorn (GI) lands her in the second spot here. This gal has been on the top of her game since her seasonal debut clunker and her numbers show that she presents a real threat to Songbird when they meet in the Coaching Club American Oaks (GI).

3) Cathryn Sophia: Disappointing effort in the Acorn (GI) as the overwhelming betting favorite. The Kentucky Oaks winner will need to improve in order to contend with the top two as we head towards the Breeders’ Cup.

4) Off the Tracks: Dominated the Mother Goose (GI) at Belmont Park going gate to wire. In her effort, she defeated highly-regarded Rachel’s Valentina and Lewis Bay.  In her previous start, she ran a great race to finish second to Carina Mia in the Acorn.  She has cemented herself as a major player for Todd Pletcher as we head into the second half of the season.

5) Go Maggie Go: This lass has danced every dance this season and has always made a nice impression. Her numbers don’t show that she belongs on the same playing field as the top two in here, so improvement is necessary to contend for divisional honors.


6) Lewis Bay, 7) Land Over Sea, 8) Dearest, 9) Lightstream, 10) Kareena

Older Dirt Males



1) Frosted: Earns the top spot in the divisional rankings after an unbelievable run in the Metropolitan Handicap (GI). He has shown flashes of brilliance his whole career and it finally all came together for him in the Met.  The road to the Breeders’ Cup Classic runs through him. Sky is the limit for him the rest of the season.

2) California Chrome: Was sensational winning the Dubai World Cup (GI) back in March and has been freshened for a run at Breeders’ Cup glory. He will keep his attack on the West Coast and will return to the races today in the San Diego Handicap (G2) in a highly-anticipated matchup against Dortmund.

3) Melatonin: Earned the Big Cap/ Gold Cup double with his recent win in the Gold Cup at Santa Anita (GI). Has been a gem of consistency this season and will likely knock heads with California Chrome and Dortmund at some point in preparations for the Breeders’ Cup down the road.

4) Dortmund: We have been patiently  awaiting his 2016 debut, which will take place on Saturday against California Chrome and others in the San Diego Handicap (G2). This dude is tough and if he comes back 100 percent healthy, he might end up being the best in the division. Time will tell.

5) Effinex: He returned to his winning ways in The Suburban (GII) at Belmont Park. He squeaked by  Samraat to win the 1 1/4-mile affair, while showing us that his Stephen Foster performance in his previous start was a fluke. He should dance every dance the rest of the way to the Breeders’ Cup and his best races should keep him competitive with these.


6)Hoppertunity, 7) Bradester, 8) Stanford, 9) Majestic Harbor, 10) Eagle

Older Dirt Females



1) Beholder: In a season that is deep with high-quality fillies and mares, she stands above them all. Her end-game is the Breeders’ Cup Classic where she will be among the favorites to bring home the championship trophy. It would take a monumental regression on her behalf to not take home the divisional crown again. Enjoy the ride!

2) Stellar Wind: In her seasonal debut, she ran a respectable second to Beholder in the Vanity Stakes (GI) and should take a big step forward in her next start. She finished a very game second in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff and has the ability to better that finish this season if she can avoid any setbacks.

3) Cavorting: An impressive winner in the Ogden Phipps Handicap (GI) where she defeated the next five ranked horses on this list. To say that race is a key race would be an understatement. Despite her dominance in that affair, there is still a question about distance and how far will she want to go. She has primarily competed in sprints — the 1 1/16-mile Ogden Phipps Stakes was the longest race of her career. She is ultra-talented and she may just be special enough to conquer any distance.

4) Forever Unbridled: Would have been right there with Cavorting if she would have managed a better trip in the Ogden Phipps Handicap (GI). She had no room turning for home and still made a nice rally late to get a piece. She is a major player in this division.

5) Curalina: Was simply outrun in the Ogden Phipps Handicap (GI).  It was only her second start of the season so there is still room for improvement. She is classy enough being a two-time Grade I winner. The daughter of Curlin might be “down” but she is by no means “out.”


6) Sheer Drama, 7) Stopchargingmaria, 8), I’m A Chatterbox  9) Carrumba, 10) Tara’s Tango

Turf Males

Solow (photo via www.dubairacingclub.com)

Solow (photo via www.dubairacingclub.com)

1) Solow (GB): Considered by many to be the best turf miler in the world. He is a win machine as he has won 13 out of his last 14 races including 8 in a row dating back to 2014, but has only raced one time this season due to a nagging injury that did not heal as quickly as they anticipated. The connections of Solow were leaning on sending him over for the Breeders’ Cup Mile this season, but we will need to wait and see if this injury changes his plans.

2) Postponed (IRE): He is the premier distance turf horse in the world and the favorite to win the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. He has won five races in a row, including three Group I races. There is no word as of yet if the Breeders’ Cup Turf is being considered.

3) Flintshire (GB): Returned to the races with a bang in the Manhattan Handicap (GI) a few weeks back after a freshening. He has faced the best of the best in his career and always shows up for a fight. Although he shows an affinity for finishing second, don’t mistake that for a horse that likes to lose. He is being pointed to the Breeders’ Cup Turf and will more than likely compete in the Arlington Million (GI) in August for his next race.

4) Harzand (IRE): Winner of the Epsom Derby-Irish Derby double. This supremely talented colt by Sea the Stars will look to continue on his winning ways as the summer progresses possibly leading to a mammoth showdown with Postponed in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.  He currently sits as the second choice in the futures for the Arc, behind Postponed.

5) Order of St George (IRE): Winner of five in a row, all at router distances, this classy son of Galileo can run all day.  He just won the Ascot Gold Cup (GI) at 2 1/2- miles. He will make his presence felt later this season in the Arc.


6) Maurice (JPN), 7) A Shin Hikari (JPN),  8) US Army Ranger (IRE),  9) Makahiki (JPN),  10) Hawkbill

Turf Females



1) Tepin: She is truly an American legend and one of the best horses in the world. She has a flawless record this season with four start and four victories. Her most recent victory was at Royal Ascot, as she made history by becoming the first American horse to win the Queen Anne Stakes (GI). She is the defending champion turf female here in America and is also the defending Breeders’ Cup Mile Champion. What else is there to say?

2) Found (IRE): She is a four-year-old filly out of Galileo that has danced every dance and has been knocking heads with Europe’s best horses in every start. Although not up to the challenge against Postponed, Found has defeated the likes of Fascinating Rock, Success Days and, in last year’s Grade I Breeders’ Cup Turf, she defeated the Prix De l’Arc de Triomphe winner Golden Horn.

3) Minding (IRE): An impressive 3-year-old filly who keeps getting better with each start. Her most recent victory came in the Pretty Polly Stakes (GI). She is a little over halfway through her 3-year-old campaign and she is already a five-time Group I winner, over distances that range from seven furlongs to twelve furlongs. She has never finished worse than second in any of her eight career starts. This Aidan O’Brien filly is something special.

4) La Cressonniere (FR): Winner of the French Guineas- Oaks double. She is undefeated in seven starts, two of which were Group I races. She is pointing to the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe later this season.  The daughter of Le Havre is well regarded out of the Jean-Claude Rouget camp.

5) Winx (AUS): Many consider her to be one of the best milers in the world as she has dominated the Australian race scene to the tune of nine wins in a row, including a victory in the $3,000,000 Doncaster Mile back in April. Clearly a classy lady, one wonders what could be if she would make the travel to America for the Breeders’ Cup Mile.


6) Usherette (IRE), 7) Miss Temple City, 8) Catch A Glimpse,  9) Nemoralia, 10) Time and Motion


Runhappy in the winner's circle after the Breeders' Cup Sprint (photo from the Houston Chronicle)

Runhappy in the winner’s circle after the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (photo from the Houston Chronicle)

1) Runhappy: The defending Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion has not raced this season and there are whispers that he may be retired to stud soon.  It is an unfortunate situation for a dominant sprinter like him to have to retire so soon, but for those familiar with the article by my colleague, Margaret Ransom  “The Shocking Untold Story of Maria Borell,” it shouldn’t come as a total shock if it is true.

If he should happen to race again I have no doubt that he will be a major force to be reckoned with and I will keep him in the top slot until he proves me otherwise. His talent is too great to ignore.

2) X Y Jet: Ran his heart out when finishing a game second in the Dubai Golden Shaheen (GI). Came out of that race with an injury and has been sidelined ever since. If he can get back to the track, he will be a handful for anyone who has to race against him.

3) Private Zone: He had been on the shelf since the Cigar Mile (GI) last November, but returned to the races in the Belmont Sprint Championship (GIII) where he finished a disappointing fourth  after fighting his jockey (Martin Pedroza) most of the trip. Should be more focused next time out, so earns a pass in his seasonal debut.  He might have every opportunity to seize control of the sprint division if he comes back firing on all cylinders in his next outing.

4) Masochistic: Brilliant in his return to the races this past weekend that firmly sets himself up nicely for a great second half of the 2016 sprint season. With no horse taking firm control of the division, it is not crazy to think he could be the top dog if he runs well in his next start. Major player the rest of the way.

5) Lord Nelson: Just got up in time to beat Subtle Indian last out after stalking him throughout. He has really turned into a nice sprinter. He continues to improve and his best might be yet to come.  It should be a fun summer to watch the sprinters from California battle it out as we approach the Breeders’ Cup.


6) Kobe’s Back, 7) Subtle Indian, 8), Marking 9), Wild Dude 10) Salutos Amigos

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily state or reflect those of US Racing.