Jeff Siegel's 2021 Triple Crown Tracker Power Rankings

(Updated March 2, 2021)

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Updated regularly, these rankings identify the best 3-year-olds of 2021 in order of preference, with each horse given a theoretical weight assignment starting at 126 lbs. based on past performance and projected development.  The horses listed are assumed to be candidates for at least one of the Triple Crown races. 

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1 - ESSENTIAL QUALITY (B. Cox) - 126 lbs.

Pedigree: Tapit - Delightful Quality, by Elusive Quality

Lifetime record: 4-4-0-0 ($1,335,144).  Derby points: 40

Last start: Feb. 27, 2021, Oaklawn Park, 8.5F Southwest S.-G3, finished first.

Next start: April 3, 2021, Keeneland, 9F Blue Grass S.-G2 or April 10, 2021, Oaklawn Park, 9F Arkansas Derby-G1

Latest workout: None since raced

The skinny: Godolphin homebred; dam graded stakes-placed sprinting half-sister to champion 2yo filly Folklore; reappeared in top form in late February with an authoritative victory over sloppy going in the 8F Southwest S.-G3 (by 4 ¼ lengths from Spielberg and Jackie's Warrior), racing wide throughout but accelerating impressively in the final furlong; had secured a 2020 Eclipse Award in the 2-year-old colt division to complete an unbeaten juvenile campaign in the 8.5F BC Juvenile-G1 at Keeneland in November when rallying from nine lengths back with the help of the fast-early race-flow to win by ¾ length from 90-1 Hot Rod Charlie; previously won his 6F debut at Churchill Downs by four lengths in September (rallying from 7 ½ lengths back) and then registering a 3 ¼ length score in the 8.5F Breeders' Futurity-G1 at Keeneland after pressing slow fractions; speed figures are strong and have risen with each of his four career victories;  proven so far to be genuine and versatile while giving indication that the Derby's 10F trip will easily be within his range; in top hands with every expectation that he'll continue to develop during the spring of his 3-year-old season.

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2 - LIFE IS GOOD (B. Baffert) - 125 lbs.

Pedigree: Into Mischief - Beach Walk, by Distorted Humor

Lifetime record: 2-2-0-0 ($94,200).  Derby Points: 10

Last start:  Jan. 2, 2021, Santa Anita, 8F Sham S.-G3, finished first

Next start: March 6, 2021, Santa Anita, 8.5F San Felipe S.-G2

Latest workout:  Feb. 28, Santa Anita, 6f, 1:12.1h

The skinny: $525,000Y; second foal of placed dam; second, third, and fourth dams were listed stakes winners in a family whose best runners have been fillies; unbeaten in two gate-to-wire starts, a 6.5F maiden at Del Mar in November (by 9 ½ lengths) followed by a diminishing ¾ length victory (from far less regarded stable mate Medina Spirit) in the 8F Sham S.-G in early January, both victories earning powerful speed figures; enjoyed an easy front running trip in the Sham but had to be put to a late drive to ensure the victory while negotiating the final quarter in a sluggish :26 flat; as a son of North America's premier stallion Into Mischief has the makings of a brilliant sprinter/miler but at this stage must be considered suspect at a classic distance; will have had two months in between races when he reappears  in 8.5F San Felipe S.-G2 the first week of March. 

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3 - GREATEST HONOUR (C. McGaughey III) - 125 lbs.

Pedigree: Tapit - Tiffany's Honour, by Street Cry

Lifetime record: 6-3-1-2 ($351,940).  Derby Points: 60

Last start: Feb. 27, 2021, Gulfstream Park, 8.5F Fountain of Youth S.-G2, finished first.

Next start: March 26, 2021, Gulfstream Park, 9F Florida Derby S.-G1S

Latest workout:  None since raced

The skinny: Was entered but withdrawn from 2019 Keeneland fall sale), second foal, dam unplaced half-sister to four SW's including Rags to Riches and Jazil (both winners of Belmont S.-G1) and to BC Marathon S.-G1 Man of Iron; second dam Broodmare of the Year Better than Honour; took four races to break his maiden but has been unbeaten in his last three starts (all at Gulfstream Park) including the 8.5F Holy Bull S.-G3 (by 5 ¾ lengths from Tarantino) in January and then the Fountain of Youth S.-G2 (by 1 ½ lengths from Drain the Clock) the following month); not particular fast on speed figures though he's never taken a backward move through six career starts; has been visually quite impressive rallying wide over a main track that traditionally plays against that style; pedigree suggests he'll continue to improve as the distances increase; likely to have his final Triple Crown prep race in the Florida Derby-G1 in late March; campaign is reminiscent of Orb, who took the same path when winning the 2013 Kentucky Derby-G1 for this trainer.

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4 - CONCERT TOUR (B. Baffert) - 123 lbs.

Pedigree: Street Sense - Purse Strings, by Tapit

Lifetime record: 2-2-0-0 ($36,600).  Derby points: 0

Last start: Feb. 6, 2021, Santa Anita, 7F San Vicente S.-G2, finished first

Next start: March 13, 2021, Oaklawn Park, 8.5F Rebel S.-G3

Latest workout: Feb. 27, Santa Anita, 5f, 1:00.1h

The skinny: Gary and Mary West Stables homebred; second foal; dam 6F maiden special weight winner at Churchill Downs in 12th (and final) career start; no black type in first two generations; third dam is the granddam of Stardom Bound (champion, BC Juvenile Fillies-G1); unbeaten in two career starts, most recently all out with a pace-pressing trip as the 2/5 favorite in five-runner 7F San Vicente S.-G2 by ½ length from B. Baffert-trained stable mate Freedom Fighter; strong speed figure in victory after returning in just three weeks from 6F debut maiden score in a highly impressive performance at Santa Anita in mid-January (forced pace, then kicked clear with power and with plenty left); pedigree suggests he'll handle at least a middle distance and will try two-turns for the first time at Oaklawn Park in 8.5F Rebel S.-G2 in mid-March; is following the identical pattern/schedule as Baffert's top class colt from last year, Nadal; intriguing prospect with loads of upside. 

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5 - MANDALOUN (B. Cox) - 123 lbs.

Pedigree: Into Mischief - Brooch, by Empire Maker

Lifetime record: 4-3-10-1 ($351,252).  Derby Points: 52

Last start: Feb. 13, 2021, Fair Grounds, 8.5F Risen Star S.-G2, finished first.

Next start: March 30, 2021, Fair Grounds, 9.5F Louisiana Derby S.-G2

Latest workout:  Feb. 27, Fair Grounds, 4f, :50b

The skinny: Juddmonte Farm homebred, dam multiple graded stakes winner in Ireland; victorious in three of four career starts, including the 9F Risen Star S.-G2 in mid-February (by 1 ¼ lengths from Proxy); previously suffered only career defeat in 8.5F Lecomte S.-G3 (by 1 length when third to Midnight Bourbon and Proxy) after being wide throughout; speed figures have risen significantly with each outing; employs an ideal pace-stalking style; should be able to handle the Derby's 10F classic distance; scheduled to have final Triple Crown prep in 9.5F Louisiana Derby in late March; progressing smoothly for Eclipse Award winning trainer though the level of competition he's faced so far may be a tad suspect.

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6 - CADDO RIVER (B. Cox) - 122 lbs.

Pedigree: Hard Spun - Pangburn, by Congrats

Lifetime record: 4-2-2-0 ($166,092).  Derby points: 10

Last start: Jan. 22, 2021, Oaklawn Park, 8F Smarty Jones S., finished first

Next start: March 13, 2021, Oaklawn Park, 8.5F Rebel S.-G3

Latest workout:  Feb. 27, Fair Grounds, 5f, 100.3b

The skinny: Shortleaf Stable homebred; dam listed stakes winner and multiple graded stakes placed over middle distances; from the family of Preakness S.-G1 winner Tank's Prospect; runner-up in his first two starts in New York  (both 7F) before graduating by 9 ½ lengths in one-turn 8F maiden special weight at Churchill Downs in November; was ultra-impressive upon his reappearance in the listed 8F Smarty Jones S. at Oaklawn Park in January, establishing the lead easily and then drawing away at will while under cruise control; speed figures are strong and have risen with each outing; both wins accomplished gate-to-wire but gives the impression he's not necessarily a need-the-lead type; pedigree suggests classic distance may be within his range; Arkansas-based and is slated to make his next start in mid-March in the 8.5F Rebel S.-G2

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7 - MEDINA SPIRIT (B. Baffert) - 122 lbs.

Pedigree: Protonico - Mongolian Change, by Brilliant Speed

Lifetime record: 3-2-1-0 ($105,200).  Derby points: 14

Last start: Jan. 30, 2021, Santa Anita, Robert B. Lewis S.-G3, finished first

Next start: March 6, 2021, 8.5F Santa Anita, San Felipe S.-G2

Latest workout: Jan. 22, Santa Anita, 5f, 1:01.1h

The skinny: $35,000 OBS 2yo; from first crop of multiple graded SW son of Giant's Causeway, dam a synthetic maiden special weight winner at Presque Isle Downs; light female family (no SW's in first three generations); displayed extreme courage when winning 8.5F Robert B. Lewis S.-G3 in late January (by a neck from Roman Centurian and Hot Rod Charlie) despite being under heavy pressure from the far turn to the wire, may be more comfortable as a stalker then a pace-presser; previously finished second (beaten ¾ length while 13 clear of the rest) by much more highly-regarded stable mate Life Is Good in 8F Sham S.-G3 earlier in the month and was getting to the winner late but otherwise enjoyed perfect trip; speed figures are legitimate; pedigree suggests he'll do better as the distances increase; clearly a much better prospect that originally judged; would prefer to see him patiently handled when he reappears in the San Felipe S.-G2 in early March.

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8 - RISK TAKING (C. Brown) - 121 Lbs.

Pedigree: Medaglia d'Oro - Run a Risk, by Distorted Humor

Lifetime record: 4-2-0-0 ($182,530).  Derby points: 10

Last start: Feb. 6, 2021, Aqueduct, Withers S.-G3, finished first

Next start: April 3, 2021, Aqueduct, 9F Wood Memorial-G2

Latest workout: Feb. 21, Belmont Park, 4f, :50b TT

The skinny: $240,000Y, dam multiple stakes placed on grass; best runners from his female family also preferred turf; unplaced in first two career starts during the fall of his juvenile campaign but has vastly improved since, breaking his maiden over 9F at Aqueduct on dirt in December and then stepping forward again over that same track and distance when winning the Withers S.-G3 in early February (by 3 ¾ lengths from Overtook after producing an extended, grinding late bid; speed figures are headed in the right direction but with some work still to be done; room for further improvement and clearly will be suited by 10F and farther; seems likely to produce another forward move in the 9F Wood Memorial-G2 in early April in a race that he'll very likely be favored.

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9 - PREVALENCE (B. Walsh) - 120 lbs.

Pedigree: Medaglia d'Oro - Enrichment, by Ghostzapper

Lifetime record: 1-1-0-0 ($25,800).  Derby points: 0

Last start: Jan. 23, 2021, Gulfstream Park, 7f Maiden Special Weight, finished first

Next start: TBD

Latest workout: Feb. 27, Palm Meadows, 4f, :48.2b

The skinny: Godolphin homebred; half-brother to New York-bred stakes winner LIbreta (by Giralomo); dam winless in eight starts but is a full-sister to top class middle distance turf G1 winner Better Lucky; successful at 7-1 in debut by 8 ½ lengths in 7F maiden at Gulfstream Park in January, pressing the pace in hand and then kicking clear impressively without ever being asked in the final furlong; earned strong speed figure that really doesn't even do his performance justice; bred to stay at least a middle distance and potentially farther; missed a scheduled start in the 8.5F Fountain of Youth S.-G2 in late February due to what has been turned a minor illness; connections hoping to find an allowance race that can serve as a springboard to a major Triple Crown prep;  clearly an exciting prospect but finds himself a bit behind the eight ball with the Derby less than two months away and no qualifying points on his resume. 

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10 - HOT ROD CHARLIE (D. O'Neill) - 120 lbs.

Pedigree: Oxbow - Indian Miss, by Indian Charlie

Lifetime record: 6-1-1-02($395,700).  Derby points: 10

Last start: Jan. 30, 2021, Santa Anita, 8.5F Robert B. Lewis S.-G3, finished third

Next start: March 6, 2021, Santa Anita, 8.5F San Felipe S.-G2

Latest workout: Feb. 27, Santa Anita, 5f, 1:01.1h)

The skinny: $110,000Y, half-brother to champion sprinter Mtole; non-winning dam a half-sister to Davona Dale S.-G2 winner Live Lively; raced five times during his juvenile campaign, beating maidens in his fourth start before finishing second (with the help of the race-shape) to champion Essential Quality in BC Juvenile-G1 by ¾ length at 91-1 after striking the front in mid-stretch; performed well when third (beaten a neck) behind Medina Spirit and Roman Centurian) in his 3yo debut in late January in the Robert B. Lewis S.-3 while appearing to have winning momentum inside the furlong pole but then losing his punch close home; doesn't have a great turn of foot and may be most effective as a stalker or pace presser; numbers are solid; Preakness winning sire helps in the stamina department but he's no sure thing to be comfortable at a classic distance. 

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11 - ROMAN CENTURIAN (S. Callaghan) - 120 lbs.

Pedigree: Empire Maker - Spare Change, by Bernardini

Lifetime record: 3-1-0 ($60,020).  Derby points: 4

Last start: Jan. 30, 2021, Santa Anita, Robert B. Lewis S.-G3, finished second

Next start: March 6, 2021, Santa Anita, 8.5F San Felipe S.-G2

Latest workout: Feb. 27, Santa Anita, 4f, :48.1h

The skinny: $550,00Y, dam Saratoga maiden winner at 2, second and third dams were Grade-1 winners; lightly raced and improving rapidly with each start, most recently missing by a neck when second to Medina Spirit in Robert B. Lewis S.-G3 in late January; prefers to lag and produce a late run and thus should continue to improve with experience and distance; after finishing a distant fourth to Life Is Good when given a run sprinting in his debut at Del Mar in November, impressed in his second career start when producing a good late kick to win a 8.5F maiden affair with authority by 3 ¾ lengths; a thoroughly likeable colt with plenty of upside.

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12 - KEEPMEINMIND (R. Diodoro) - 119 lbs.

Pedigree: Laoban - Inclination, by Victory Gallop

Lifetime record: 4-1-2-1 ($60,020).  Derby points: 18

Last start: Nov. 28, 2021, Churchill Downs, Kentucky Jockey Club S.-G2, finished first

Next start: March 13, 2021, Oaklawn Park, 8.5F Rebel S.-G2

Latest workout: Feb. 26, Oaklawn Park, 5f, 1:03.1h

The skinny: From the first crop of the promising young Uncle Mo stallion Laoban but with strictly a sprint female family;  half-brother to GSP In Jack's Memory (3rd, Amsterdam S.-G3); dam a sprint stakes winner and half-sister to two GSW sprinters Mellow Fellow and Zawzooth; in the frame in all four starts during a productive juvenile campaign that concluded with a maiden-breaking win in the 8.5F Kentucky Jockey Club S.-G2 at Churchill Downs in November; (form out of the race hasn't held and the speed figure came up light); previously had produced a willing late bid with the strong help of the race-flow to finish a respectable third in the BC Juvenile-G1 (at 30-1) behind champion Essential Quality after winding up second to that same colt (by 3 ½ lengths) in the 8.5F Breeders' Futurity-G1; has had his training interrupted periodically by poor weather at his home base at Oaklawn Park but is scheduled to make his sophomore debut in the 8.5F Rebel S.-G2 in mid-March; not particularly impressive in the speed figure department but the company lines look good; curious to see how much if any he's progressed over the winter.

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13 - CANDY MAN ROCKET (W. Mott) - 118 lbs.

Pedigree: Candy Ride - Kenny Lane, by Forestry

Lifetime record: 3-2-0-0 ($144, 824).  Derby points: 10

Last start: Feb. 6, 2021, Tampa Bay Downs, 8.5F Sam F. Davis S,-G3, finished first

Next start: March 6, 2021, Tampa Bay Downs, 8.5F Tampa Bay Derby-G2

Latest workout: Feb. 28, Payson Park, 4f, :48.3b

The skinny: $250,000 OBS 2yo, dam a two-time allowance winner in the Midwest and half-sister to two listed stakes winners from the family of champion Althea; was given a race in his debut when unplaced sprinting at Churchill Downs over a sloppy track in November but has developed quite well since, winning a 6F maiden at Gulfstream Park in January (by 9 ¼ lengths) and then capturing the 8.5F Sam F. Davis S.G3 by one length with a comfortable pace-stalking trip from stable mate Nova Rags; speed figures are just  average at this stage so improvement is needed to be competitive with the upper echelon of the division; pedigree suggest a middle distance may be his limit.

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14 - ROCK YOUR WORLD (J. Sadler) - 118 lbs.

Pedigree: Candy Ride - Charm the Maker, by Empire Maker

Lifetime record: 2-2-0-0 ($96,600).  Derby points: 0

Last start: Feb. 27, 2021, Santa Anita, Pasadena S., finished first

Next start: April 3, 2021, Santa Anita, 9F Santa Anita Derby-G1

Latest workout: None since raced

The skinny: $650,00Y; third foal, lengthy colt with plenty of scope; full-brother to California Gr.3-placed She's Our Charm; dam multiple stakes winner from a high class staying turf family; unbeaten in two starts, both on grass, most recently when drawing clear with a good display of late speed to win the listed 8F Pasadena S. in visually pleasing style (by 2 ¼ lengths from Cathkin Peak) before being hard to pull up and galloping out full of run; previously had debuted over 6F on grass and registered a 1 ¾ length victory with a good number despite being eased up in the final stages while appearing to toy with his opposition; pedigree suggests he'll handle any surface and be able to cope with a classic distance though he appears to be a better move on turf than on the main track according to his workouts; will get his opportunity on dirt in the 9F Santa Anita Derby-G1 in early April; at which time his Triple Crown prospects will become apparent; still has plenty to prove but remains an exciting prospect, at the very least on grass.

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15 - HIGHLY MOTIVATED (C. Brown) - 117 lbs.

Pedigree: Into Mischief - Strong Incentive, by Warrior's Reward

Lifetime record: 3-2-1-0 ($124,050).  Derby points: 0

Last start: Nov. 6, 2020, Keeneland, 6.5F Nyquist S., finished first

Next start:  March 6, 2021, Aqueduct, 8F Gotham S.-G3

Latest workout: Feb. 28, Payson Park, 4f, :49.2b)

The skinny: $240,000F, first foal, dam a Canadian-bred SW at Woodbine at 3, ran winning race when beaten a neck in debut over a muddy track at Saratoga in late August and then won his next two starts, a 6.5F maiden special weight affair at Belmont Park (by 1 ¾ lengths) and then the listed 6.5F Nyquist S at Keeneland in early November (by 4 ¼ lengths, drawing away with authority late) while earning a vastly improved, high-quality speed figure; bred to handle two turs but a classic distance might be stretching his limit; has taken awhile to come around after beginning his most recent work pattern in late January; scheduled to make seasonal bow in the 8F Withers S.-G3 in early March and will need to return as well as he left to remain a viable Triple Crown candidate.

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16 - THE GREAT ONE (D. O'Neill) - 117 lbs.

Pedigree: Nyquist - Little Ms Protocol, by El Corredor

Lifetime record: 5-1-1-0 ($83,940).  Derby points: 4

Last start: Jan. 23, 2021, Santa Anita, Maiden special weight, finished first

Next start: March 6, 2021, Santa Anita, 8.5F San Felipe S.-G2

Latest workout: Feb. 27, Santa Anita, 6f, 1:12.2h

The skinny: $185,00 2YO; dam multiple SW in Louisiana state-bred company; from the first crop of classic winning champion and highly-promising young sire Nyquist; progressing with every outing, missing by a nose (to Spielberg) while still a maiden at 33-1 in 8.5F Los Alamitos Futurity-G1 in December (his fourth career start) and then verifying that sharp effort when trouncing a 4-runner 8F maiden field at Santa Anita the following month by 14 widening lengths with an impressive speed figure; had been a front-runner in his previous two outings but settled nicely in a stalking position before quickening in the lane in his maiden score; seems certain to continue his upward mobility with added development; extra distance shouldn't be an issue. 

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Knocking on the door:  17-Freedom Fighter (B. Baffert); 18-Dream Shake (P. Eurton); 19-Collaborate (S. Joseph, Jr.); 20-Proxy (M. Stidham); 21-Midnight Bourbon; 22-Spielberg (B. Baffert); 23-Rombauer (M. McCarthy); 24-Overtook (T. Pletcher); 25-Prate (B. Cox);