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Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Top Ten List

- Here’s this week’s Top Ten: the Left at the Gate top ten of who I think will be making headlines on and around the first Saturday in May.

1. High Limit – Too few preps, not enough foundation, likes to jump tire tracks, still has lots to prove, and one can argue he’s still untested. But somehow he comes out looking even better to me after the past weekend’s preps. If Sun King is rated so highly by so many off of his Tampa Bay Derby win, what does that say about this one’s Louisiana Derby effort, which was accomplished more easily, against far, far better, and with a much higher Beyer?

2. Consolidator – This is the one that Lukas has liked all along and he showed why with his big effort in the San Felipe, the supposed track bias notwithstanding (it was the only two turn dirt race on the card). While he’ll have to prove it wasn’t a one-shot deal, Lukas’ Charismatic came from lesser status and maintained his form through the Preakness before getting hurt in the Belmont. The man knows what he’s doing.

3. Teamsters President Jim Hoffa – With the Teamsters and the Jockey Guild growing ever closer, Hoffa, who had said that jockeys are “almost like slaves or servants,” decides that they really don’t have it so bad, and declares that he wants his Teamsters to get a piece of the action. To accommodate their new friends, the Guild announces that they will seek to have the minimum riding weight raised to 240 pounds.

4. Sun King High Fly Noble Causeway – Logic dictates that Sun King or High Fly should be high on this list, but I’m confused after Sun King’s Tampa Bay race, and not won over by High Fly’s post-aided Fountain of Youth. Noble Causeway’s allowance win in which he calmly swung off the rail and rallied past the field was, to me, the most visually impressive and professional two turn win of any of Zito’s contenders, and I think he has the most potential to improve.

5. Rockport Harbor – Still a lot of questions regarding his ability to rate and to last ten furlongs, not to mention his mere two preps, but deserves a spot here based on his gritty comeback race at far less than peak conditioning. He tried valiantly to fight off a much sharper Greater Good in a final sixteenth of :6 1/5.

6. Don’t Get Mad – His rally for third in the San Felipe was impressive enough to give hope to those who feel he’ll be one of the ones finishing strongly at ten furlongs.

7. Michael Jackson – Acquitted of all charges in his child molestation case, Jackson, now looking healthy and chipper, suddenly does a sprinting moonwalk out of the courtroom, covering a mile in 1:35 2/5. A week later, he appears in a new documentary in which he says he likes to share his bed with small animals, and is shown holding hands with a Great Horned Owl.

8. Greater Good – Hard to find much fault here, but will likely have to continue to improve to compete in Kentucky, and his pedigree will continue to sow seeds of doubt.

9. Bandini – His second in the Fountain of Youth continues to age favorably, especially as the stats continue to demonstrate how impossible his outside trip at the 9f Gulfstream route was.

10. Sweet Catomine – OK, I’m putting her on. She may very well be the best of all of these, but she’ll have to improve on her 2005 efforts in the Santa Anita Derby.

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