Using a rating system in which 89 and higher is “Fast,” here’s how I rate the top early runners this year. Note that I consider only races at 8.5 furlongs or longer around 2 turns and I adjusted for surface as described in The Lazy Bettor’s Guide to the Kentucky Derby. (An asterisk indicates a 9-furlong prep.)

94….California Chrome (San Felipe)
93….Wildcat Red (Fountain of Youth)
92….General A Rod (Fountain of Youth)
92….Chitu (Sunland Derby)*
90….We Miss Artie (BC Juvenile)
89….We Miss Artie (Fountain of Youth)
89….Medal Count (Fountain of Youth)
88….Samraat (Wood Memorial)*
88….Intense Holiday (Holy Bull)
86….Candy Boy (Cash Call Futurity)
86….Dance With Fate (BC Juvenile)
86….Wicked Strong (Wood Memorial)*
86…Chitu (R.B. Lewis)
86….We Miss Artie (With Anticipation, turf)
85….Vicar’s In Trouble (Louisiana Derby)*
83….Harry’s Holiday (Spiral Stakes)*
82….Danza (Arkansas Derby)*
82….Pablo Del Monte (Blue Grass)*

In year’s past, the presence of more than 3 horses with ratings of 89 or higher usually produced a hot pace. This year, with 6 horses at 89 or higher, a fast pace seems likely.

Also in year’s past, a rating of 89 or higher has proven to be a sign of strength, even elitism, for horses who are not need-to-lead types or keen-to-lead types (defined in my book). You can instantly download an electronic copy of the book at www.smashwords.com to find the definitions and historical performance stats for qualifying horses.

—Roger LeBlanc