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 to find the definitions and historical performance stats for qualifying horses.

—Roger LeBlanc