Rosbrian Farm’s Optimus Prime, winner of Grade 1 and Grade 2 stakes races in three U.S. starts, has been awarded the top 157 rating by the National Steeplechase Association’s panel of expert handicappers.
Trained by Ricky Hendriks, the French-bred arrived in the U.S. in late spring and scored a 1 1/2-length victory in Saratoga Race Course’s New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1) on Aug. 23. He came back in four weeks to finish third in Belmont Park’s Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1), two lengths behind stablemate Zanjabeel.
Optimus Prime overwhelmed his competition in the International Gold Cup’s David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 2) on Oct. 27, when he kicked clear to win by 18 1/4 lengths under regular jockey Ross Geraghty. Despite his limited U.S. campaign, the six-year-old ended the season third on the leader board with $167,500 in purse earnings.
Second in the rankings at 156 was Sideways Syndicate’s Jury Duty, who shipped over for the Far Hills Races’ $450,000 Grand National (Gr. 1) and won by 3 1/4 lengths for leading Irish trainer Gordon Elliott. Jury Duty, a seven-year-old Irish-bred, led the 2018 earnings list with $270,000 from his visit to the United States.
Zanjabeel, owned by Rosbrian and Meadow Run Farm, was ranked third at 152 by the panel comprising Martin Chamberlin, Joe Clancy, and Will O’Keefe, who prepare the ratings under the supervision of NSA Director of Racing Bill Gallo Jr.
Also trained by Hendriks, Zanjabeel won the Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) in addition to the Lonesome Glory. The British-bred five-year-old also finished second in the Marion duPont Colonial Cup (Gr. 1) and the Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 2).
Owner-trainer Emmet Mullins’ Tornado Watch, who finished second in the Grand National, was fourth in the rankings at 150. In all, the ratings panel evaluated 103 horses to determine the final ratings.