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 thoughts of running in the mile and quarter $600,000 Virginia Derby (G2) at Colonial Downs on July 21st.
The performance of SILVER MAX in the Transylvania is enough to earn him
top billing in the first 2012 TURF TEN (Coady Photography)
Owner Trainer Jockey (last start)



Mark Bacon & Dana Wells Dale Romans Robbie Albarado
After running second is all five 2011 starts on both dirt and turf, the Badge of Silver colt is undefeated on the 2012 turf in three starts, including an impressive 5+ length score in Keeneland’s Transylvania Stakes.  Only a tempting excursion to the dirt in the Holy Bull blemishes Romans’ Badge of Silver.
Owner Trainer Jockey (last start)



Donegal Racing Dale Romans Kent Desormeaux
Let’s see, a Crawford, Romans and Desormeaux colt that transitions from the Gulfstream Turf in the Palm Beach, to the synthetic at Keeneland, to the dirt of the Kentucky Derby.  We’ve seen this before with Paddy O’Prado.  Obviously, his Triple Crown performance sets his summer calendar.
Owner Trainer Jockey (last start)



Team Valor Graham Motion Javier Castellano
Motion might now return the Palm Beach winner to the turf where he has never lost.  Last year’s Kentucky Derby winning connections (Animal Kingdom) have won their last three on the turf, four overall.  Colts that run well at Gulfstream seem to run well at Colonial.  Next start? The American Turf on Oaks Day.
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.  Proven in routes winning twice at 1 & 16th.
Owner Trainer Jockey (last start)



Repole Stable Todd Pletcher John Velasquez
His lifetime race record is 2 wins in 6 starts.  Yet on the turf he’s 2 for 2.  Was it the distance, surface or both that gave him fits in the Illinois Derby.  Don’t see a return to the dirt anytime soon.  He never seems to keep the same rider.
Owner Trainer Jockey (last start)



Peachtree Stable Neil Drysdale Joe Talamo
I’m intrigued by this west coast colt is yet another sire that was a top performer at Colonial Downs.  Smart Strike sires Drysdale’s lightly raced Santa Anita miler untoppled in his two turf starts.  Next start? Stretching out of a mile and a eighth 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)



Preston Stables, LLC Christophe Clement Joe Bravo
Trainer Christophe Clement who saddled 2008 Virginia Derby winner Gio Ponti has an English Channel colt that could be on the rise.  Lots of Virginia Derby karma from this Gulfstream performer who won twice and is now beginning to win as a favorite.  
Owner Trainer Jockey (last start)



TK Stables Kellyn Gorder M. Cruz
Moved up well in the Transylvania but still well back of its winner, Silver Max.  Yet, with two solid outings he may have found a home on the turf and could be dangerous at longer distances.
Owner Trainer Jockey (last start)



Fletcher & Carolyn Gray Larry Jones M.Mena
He’s done enough to make the list but the Transylvania was a bit unsettling after three consecutive wins on the Fairgrounds turf including the $75,000 Black and Gold.  Perhaps the venue change, jockey change distance and poor start were a bit too much.  He could have just had a bad day.


LOOK AT THE TIME, undefeated in restricted races at the Fairgrounds, CHIPS ALL IN, little said since Pasadena win at Santa Anita, GOOD MORNING DIVA and BIG SCREEN dueled well in the Calder Derby that was pulled off the turf.  SUMMER FRONT ran 2nd in the Lexington after a solid 2-year old turf campaign.  Trainer Graham Motion is now considering GOLD MEGILLAH for the turf campaign that would wind up in New Kent.