Kentucky Derby Media Poll: Derby Trail ‘The Way It Used To Be’

by | 04.01.2019 | 12:39pm
Plus Que Parfait and Jose Ortiz win the UAE Derby

Exiting a Saturday in which former $16,000 claimer Maximum Security won the Florida Derby (G1) and and the U.S.-based Plus Que Parfait shipped in to win the UAE Derby (G2), BloodHorse's Bob Ehalt called it “another week of business as usual during the 2019 Triple Crown season.”

The pair of upsets resulted in eight horses from the 2019 Kentucky Derby Media Poll's Top 20 receiving No. 1 votes, the highest total so far with this Week 6 of 10 for the rankings.

“So this is the way it's gonna be — the way it used to be on the Derby trail?” asked the Daily Racing Form's Marty McGee. “With unpredictability at every turn? Fun, fun.”

Order still could be restored Saturday in the list assembled by when three more major preps — the Santa Anita Derby (G1), Blue Grass Stakes (G2) and Wood Memorial (G2) — each run. Derby Media Poll voters, including representatives of racing industry trade publications and general news outlets, are certainly seeking clarity.

“Only two horses have remained constants, Game Winner and Improbable, and we will soon see if they can remain the cornerstones of this crop,” said TVG's Scott Hazelton.

The Bob Baffert-trained duo remained 1-2 this week, with Game Winner the Santa Anita Derby headliner and Improbable awaiting a start in the April 13 Arkansas Derby (G1).

All others in the Top 6 — Omaha Beach, Long Range Toddy, Maximum Security and Tacitus — received at least one No. 1 vote. In 15th and 16th, respectively, so too did Anothertwistafate and Instagrand.

“Another week of preps, and not sure anything has become clear besides the fact that this year's Derby favorite could be a nice price,” said SportsLine's Jody Demling. “At this point, it's a matter of getting points to get in the race for a lot of hopefuls.”

From the Top 20, seven horses sit either on the Derby qualifying bubble or remain need of points from final preps. The highest-ranked of those is No. 9 Roadster, another trained by Baffert who's going second off the layoff in the Santa Anita Derby.

Both Code of Honor (No. 7) and Bourbon War (No. 10) remained highly spotted despite their Florida Derby defeats in a race that lacked an ideal setup for a closing kick. Bourbon War's connections will hope he has the points to qualify coming out of major preps, same as those in the camps of Anothertwistafate, Instagrand, Vekoma (No. 17), Galilean (No. 18) and Tax (No. 20).

Voters slotted Plus Que Parfait in 19th, as he's in the Derby on points but will go off as a longshot. Bodexpress, the maiden who ran second in the Florida Derby, appears in the field as well but didn't crack the Top 20 this week.

“There are still a lot of questions because of the way March's prep races played out,” said Steve Bittenbender, reporter for “Hopefully, we'll get some clarity this week, but haven't we been saying that for a few weeks now?”

“This weekend,” added the Albany Times-Union's Tim Wilkin, “I think — hope — we will see some of the big boys show they are the real deal.”

Kentucky Derby Media Poll (Week 6)
 Horse (1st-place votes)  Points Previous 
 1. Game Winner (11)  533  1
 2. Improbable (6)  510  2
 3. Omaha Beach (5)  500  3
 4. Long Range Toddy (1)  391  6
 5. Maximum Security (2)  342  NR
 6. Tacitus (1)  337  8
 7. Code of Honor  336  4
 8. By My Standards  298  10
 9. Roadster  285  9
 10. Bourbon War  252  5
 11. Spinoff  238  11
 12. Cutting Humor  217  13
 13. Haikal  214  12
 14. War of Will  198  15
 15. Anothertwistafate (1)  183  16
 16. Instagrand (1)  180  17
 17. Vekoma  168  14
 18. Galilean  106  18
 19. Plus Que Parfait  105  NR
 20. Tax  74  20

Next 10 receiving votes: Win Win Win, Signalman, Mucho Gusto, Bodexpress, Country House, Outshine, Alwaysmining, Nolo Contesto, Gray Magician, Sueno.

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