Kentucky Derby Media Poll Senses ‘Wide Open Derby Picture’

by | 03.25.2019 | 12:45pm
By My Standards upsets the Louisiana Derby at 22-1. Hodges Photography / Amanda Hodges Weir

Since Churchill Downs in 2013 instituted its Kentucky Derby points system to assemble the field, two things remain consistent: The favorite has won on the first Saturday in May, and he entered the race unbeaten at age 3.

Given a tumultuous few weeks on the trail, TVG's Caton Bredar echoed a number of voters in a new edition of the 2019 Kentucky Derby Media Poll when suggesting those streaks could meet their end.

“We may finally have a wide open Derby picture for the first time since the introduction of the points qualifying system,” Bredar said.

The Bob Baffert trainees Game Winner and Improbable continue to sit 1-2 in the rankings assembled by HorseRacingNation.com, but those previously unbeaten colts both suffered narrow defeats in their 3-year-old debuts.

War of Will also lost Saturday's Louisiana Derby (G2) when injured leaving the gate, dropping from third to 13th, while Mucho Gusto went from eighth to unranked given his miss in the Sunland Derby (G3).

Released each Monday, the Derby Media Poll's voting panel features representatives of the Daily Racing Form, BloodHorse and Thoroughbred Daily News, among other racing industry trade publications and general news outlets.

“No horse has emerged as the one you have to beat in the Derby,” said Tim Wilkin, reporter for the Albany Times-Union. “Still think Baffert has all the aces but would not be surprised to see a double-digit priced winner at Churchill — at least today.”

“Still waiting for a horse to step forward and take control of this division,” added the Buffalo News' Gene Kershner. “May have to get the dart board out if no one does.”


Rebel Stakes (G2) winner Omaha Beach and Florida Derby (G1) contenders Code of Honor and Bourbon War round out the Top 5, each advancing given War of Will's tumble down the list. Two others expected to contend on Saturday at Gulfstream Park also rank in the Top 20: No. 7 Hidden Scroll and No. 19 Harvey Wallbanger.

A trio of horses newly qualified for the Derby cracked the list this week. Nos. 10 (Louisiana Derby winner By My Standards), 11 Spinoff (the runner-up) and 13 (Sunland Derby winner Cutting Humor) are all in and figure to remain assuming good health.

“Just when you think the Derby picture couldn't get any more cloudy, a couple showers appear this weekend,” said TimeformUS' Craig Milkowski. “Two horses that previously had only a maiden win took the two prep races.”

By My Standards beat Spinoff by 3/4 of a length at Fair Grounds. At Sunland Park, Cutting Humor fended off Anothertwistafate, ranked 16th, by a neck.

“This year,” said The Downey Profile's Dick Downey, “there are several Derby prep races with winning margins of less than a length, making it difficult to separate the cream of the crop.”

The Florida Derby could provide more clarity. Earlier in the day, Meydan also hosts the UAE Derby (G2), another major prep offering points on a 100-40-20-10 scale to the Top 4 finishers.

Top choices: beware.

“The Kentucky Derby trail has been anything but kind to favorites,” said Horse Racing Nation' Brian Zipse. “Chaos is the only thing you can count on so far this year.”

Kentucky Derby Media Poll (Week 5)
 Horse (1st-place votes)  Points Previous 
 1. Game Winner (10)  495  1
 2. Improbable (6)  469  2
 3. Omaha Beach (4)  446  4
 4. Code of Honor (3)  422  5
 5. Bourbon War  363  7
 6. Long Range Toddy  346  6
 7. Hidden Scroll  290  10
 8. Tacitus  267  9
 9. Roadster (1)  266  12
 10. By My Standards  210  NR
 11. Spinoff (1)  187  NR
 12. Haikal  180  13
 13. Cutting Humor  176  NR
 14. Vekoma  167  14
 15. War of Will  157  3
 16. Anothertwistafate (1)  148  NR
 17. Instagrand  142  15
 18. Galilean  116  16
 19. Harvey Wallbanger  111  19
 20. Tax  72  17

Next 10 receiving votes: Mucho Gusto, Mind Control, Country House, Signalman, Win Win Win, Sueno, Outshine, Much Better, Nolo Contesto, Alwaysmining.

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