LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 20, 2020) – Rising star Ce Ce and veteran Grade 1 winner Whitmore made the most of their respective opportunities this past weekend, scoring victories which allowed each to crack the top 10 in the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) Top Thoroughbred Poll.
With limited racing options available due to the coronavirus pandemic, Oaklawn Park was the only track offering graded stakes action on April 18. Ce Ce, who is based in California with trainer Michael McCarthy, shipped to Arkansas for the Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap where she bested Ollie’s Candy by a head to notch her second consecutive top-level victory.
That effort was enough for the daughter of Elusive Quality to earn 163 points from voters and land in the fourth spot overall on the Top Thoroughbred Poll, which is still led by champion distaffer Midnight Bisou (28 first-place votes, 360 points). Ce Ce also captured Grade 1 Beholder Mile on March 14 and has won each of her three starts in 2020.
“It’s always fun to ride horses like Ce Ce. She’s an amazing filly,” winning jockey Victor Espinoza told Oaklawn’s publicity team after the Apple Blossom.
There was no change in the top three in this week’s poll with Midnight Bisou holding a solid advantage over Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Invitational winner Mucho Gusto (283 points) in second and Grade 1 winner Zulu Alpha (181) in third.
Mr Freeze, winner of the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Mile Stakes, drops one spot to fifth with 157 points followed by champion Maximum Security (7 first-place votes, 121 points), multiple graded stakes winner By My Standards (95 points) and Tom’s D’Etat, (89) who climbs into the eighth position following his season-opening triumph in the April 11 Oaklawn Mile Stakes.
Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap winner Combatant (88 points) is ninth with fan-favorite Whitmore (87) rounding out the top ten on the strength of his victory in the Grade 3 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap this past Saturday. Whitmore defeated a salty field to take the Count Fleet Sprint for the third time in his career and push his total bankroll over $3 million.
“I’m proud for him,” Whitmore’s trainer Ron Moquett told Oaklawn’s publicity team. “I’m noticing lately people saying, ‘The great’ and ‘legendary.’ People that are saying that don’t throw around those words. To me, he’s been that.”
Tiz the Law (35 points) did not crack the top 10 but received two first-place votes in the Top Thoroughbred Poll. The Barclay Tagg-trained colt did however maintain his advantage in the NTRA Top 3-Year-Old Poll, earning 32 first-place votes and 360 points.
Tiz the Law has returned to the worktab the last couple weeks following his victory in the Grade 1 Florida Derby on March 28. The son of Constitution captured the Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes in his seasonal bow and boasts four victories from five career starts.
Horses trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert make up the next three slots with Authentic (3 first-place votes, 312 points) holding second and stablemates Nadal (291 points), and Charlatan (2 first-place votes, 211 points) third and fourth, respectively. Both Nadal and Charlatan are expected to start in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby on May 2.
Honor A. P. ranks fifth with 172 points followed by Grade 2 Louisiana Derby winner Wells Bayou in sixth with 164 points. Ete Indien, third in the Florida Derby after winning the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes by 8 ½ lengths, ranks seventh with 124 points followed by Sole Volante (107 points), King Guillermo (66), and Maxfield (64).
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 website at:
Full accounting of top 10 votes by voter can be found at: