New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - The top three horses ranked in this week's NTRA Thoroughbred Poll have drawn ever closer together as the final weeks of summer racing are underway.
Two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan's lead in the poll dropped from 56 points to 32 over Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome while Palace Malice is just 38 points from the top.
Owned by Morton Fink and trained by Charlie LoPresti, Wise Dan leads with 22 first-place votes and 355 points. The 7-year-old gelding will next start on Aug. 30 at Saratoga in either the 1 1/16-mile, $250,000 Bernard Baruch on grass or the 1 1/8-mile, $600,000 Woodward on the dirt.
"The only way I'm going to know (which spot to go in) is in a few weeks time when I see how he progresses," said LoPresti. "If he's doing really well, why would I wait six weeks to go to Woodbine (in the Woodbine Mile) when I can run him in four weeks here? Money doesn't matter with a horse like him now."
Leading 3-year-old California Chrome picked up eight top votes and 323 points to narrow the gap with Wise Dan. Trained by Art Sherman, the colt had a three- furlong workout Friday at Los Alamitos in 37.60 seconds with exercise rider Anna Wells.
Palace Malice, who lost for the first time this year in the Whitney, has nine top votes and 317 points. Trained by Todd Pletcher, the 4-year-old colt will start in the Woodward.
Close Hatches is steady in the fourth spot with one first-place vote and 235 points. The 4-year-old filly is set to start in the Personal Ensign on Aug. 22 at Saratoga.
Stablemates Bayern and Game On Dude, both trained by Bob Baffert, exchanged the fifth and sixth places after receiving 157 and 122 points, respectively.
Remaining seventh with 104 points is Eclipse Award winner Shared Belief followed by Jim Dandy champ Wicked Strong (96), Whitney winner Moreno (82) and Kentucky Oaks winner Untapable (80).
The National Poll continues through the Breeders' Cup on Nov. 1.