by Nick Hahn

The James Murphy at Pimlico on Preakness day was an English Channel sired exacta comprised of #2 Skyring and Easy Crossing (outside shadow roll).  Both make the Turf Ten list for the moment.  There are two significant three year old turf stakes this weekend, the American Classic at Arlington and the Lamplighter at Monmouth.

Nick’s picks for the top ten three year old horses in North America with at least one start on the turf in 2012 and perhaps with an inclination of running in the $600,000 Virginia Derby (G2) at Colonial Downs on July 21st.
Owner Trainer Jockey (last start)



Mark Bacon & Dana Wells Dale Romans Rafael Bejarano
I’m not sure of the method in regard to the Virginia Derby despite that he has won his third straight all on the front end.  Looks like Rafael Bejarno will keep the mount on Silver Max who may start in this weekend’s Arlington Classic.
Owner Trainer Jockey (last start)



Donegal Racing Dale Romans Kent Desormeaux
With a 3rd-place finish in the Kentucky Derby, the similarities to Paddy O’Prado are astounding.  With another Donegal interest is emerging on the turf, it may be a while before Dullahan sees the turf again.  Javier Castellano picks up the mount from Desormeaux for the Belmont Stakes.
Owner Trainer Jockey (last start)



Team Valor Graham Motion Javier Castellano
He could be interchangable here at #3 with Travel Advisory who finished ahead of him in the American Turf.  The stormy conditions in the American Turf may have been a factor for the Palm Beach winner, but I think he may have needed a start after his Bluegrass outing.  
Owner Trainer Jockey (last start)



TK Stables Kellyn Gorder M. Cruz
He seems to be moving up on Silver Max with each outing and certainly has found a home on the turf.  I like his chances as the distances begin to increase.  He ran still run second to Silver Max twice, but the margin is getting closer.
Owner Trainer Jockey (last start)



Preston Stables, LLC Christophe Clement Ramon Dominquez
One of many English Channel colts that could be on the rise.  Easy Crossing had a horrible trip in the Murphy at Pimlico and still rallied for second to complete the English Channel exacta with Skyring.  Appears to be improving with every start.  
Owner Trainer Jockey (last start)



GDS Racing Stable Todd Pletcher Pedro Cotto
Pletcher trains not only this three year old Florida talent, he also trained his sire, English Channel to a sweep of Colonial’s “twin turf” wins in 2005.  The Sophomore Turf winner has won his last three starts-all turf wins.  Like the Correze mare, Reach the Top.  Appears to be fine after tossing Castellano in the American Turf.
Owner Trainer Jockey (last start)



Jerry & Ann Moss John Shirreffs Mike Smith
Undefeated and impressive on the turf in two starts while being two lackluster in two starts when not on it.  Sheriffs tells the DRF he may not be fully convinced that he has to race on the turf, but we like it when he does.  A solid win in the La Puente Stakes at 1 & 1/8th at Santa Anita.  
Owner Trainer Jockey (last start)



Peachtree Stable Christophe Clemente Joe Talamo
Undefeated in two starts on the west coast, this Smart Strike colt has now switched to the Clemente barn.  There was talk of him starting in the American Turf and he was entered in the Murphy as well as an allowance at Belmont versus older horses.  What’s keeping him out of the starting gate?
Owner Trainer Jockey (last start)



Donegal Racing Dale Romans Kent Desormeaux
Donegal and Dale must have been happy while the way was moving at the wire of the American Turf when he finished 4th.  I love his Powerscourt (GB) breeding on the top side.  With this colt in the barn and improving, it’s less tempting to return stableeneighbor Dullahan to the turf. 
Owner Trainer Jockey (last start)



Bluegrass Hall, LLC D.Wayne Lukas Joel Rosario
The winner of the Murphy only gave up the lead briefly in the Murphy Stakes but got it back in time to hold off Easy Crossing.  Lukas considered running him in the Preakness instead of Optimizer.  Lukas acknowledges that it’s difficult to win on the turf on the front end, but isn’t concerned about going longer with this colt.
EDGED OFF THE TURF TEN – REAL SOLUTION who had been undefeated in Italy, ran 6th in the Italian Derby and is nominated to several stakes in America including the Mid-American Triple.  It wouldn’t take much to place STATE OF PLAY back in the Turf Ten.  He ran third in the Transylvania and won the Battaglia on the synthetic.  Clemente also has MALIBU WAY who has won twice.   So has Neil Howard’s SACHEM SPIRIT.  Other honorable mentions include LOOK AT THE TIME, STONEY FENCE, FILM SHOT,  CHIPS ALL IN, ENGLISH MAJOR and SUMMER BREEZING.