LEXINGTON, Ky.– After earning his third straight victory and second consecutive G1 triumph when he captured the Metropolitan Handicap on July 4, Vekoma left no doubt he was among the elite handicap horses in the country. The George Weaver-trainee had that status further validated on Monday when he earned 2 first-place votes and 302 points to move up to third overall in the latest National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) Top Thoroughbred Poll.
Vekoma has shown quality throughout his eight career starts, winning the Grade 3 Nashua Stakes as a juvenile and taking the Grade 2 Blue Grass Stakes last April to earn a spot in the Kentucky Derby field. He was put away for the rest of 2019 after finishing 12th in the Run for the Roses and has returned with a vengeance as a 4-year-old, prevailing in each of his three outings. The son of Candy Ride (ARG) opened his 2020 campaign with a win in the Sir Shackleton Stakes on March 28 before taking the Grade 1 Carter Handicap on June 6 and the historic Met Mile this past weekend.
“I think he’s the best older horse in the country,” co-owner Randy Hill told the NYRA publicity team about Vekoma. “George (Weaver) is thinking about the Forego or training right up to the Breeders’ Cup and we leave all of that up to him. The horse will tell us. He’s such a warrior.”
Vekoma’s presence was the only major shift near the top of the Thoroughbred Poll rankings as champion Midnight Bisou continues to reign with 24 first-place votes and 375 points. G M B Racing’s Tom’s d’Etat (8 first-place votes, 333 points) holds in second with Grade 1 winner-Mucho Gusto (171) dropping one spot to fourth.
By My Standards ranks fifth with 157 points followed by top sophomore runner Tiz the Law (2 first-place votes, 130 points) and Code of Honor (1 first-place vote, 123 points). Grade 1-winner Zulu Alpha is eighth with 99 points as Maximum Security (3 first-place votes, 98 points) sits ninth. Instilled Regard, winner of the Grade 1 Manhattan Stakes this past weekend, joins the top 10 in the final spot with a total of 65 points.
Belmont Stakes winner Tiz the Law stays in command of the NTRA Top Three-Year-Old Poll for yet another week, earning 39 first-place votes and 399 points. Santa Anita Derby winner Honor A. P. (1 first-place vote, 358 points) remains second followed by graded-stakes winner Authentic (260 points)and Belmont Stakes runner-up Dr Post (211).
King Guillermo (188 points) ranks fifth and he is followed by the only newcomer to the poll’s top 10, Uncle Chuck, who sits sixth with 135 points on the heels of his victory in the Grade 3 Los Alamitos Derby July 4. Top filly Gamine (134 points) dips one spot to seventh with Max Player (82), Charlatan (81) and Swiss Skydiver (67) completing the top 10.
The NTRA Top Thoroughbred polls are the sport’s most comprehensive surveys of experts. 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. All horses that have raced in the U.S., are in training in the U.S., or are known to be pointing to a major event in the U.S. are eligible for the NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll. Voting in both the Top 3-Year-Old Poll and the Top Thoroughbred Poll is scheduled to be conducted through the conclusion of the Breeders’ Cup in November.
The full results for the NTRA Thoroughbred Poll can be found on the NTRA here.
NTRA Press Release- Photo: Vekoma wins 2020 Met Mile. Credit: Coglianese Photos/Joe Labozetta