Kentucky Derby Media Poll – April 5, 2018

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“And while there are still questions to be asked, this week he deserves to shoot straight to the top.”

Press release

While Bolt d’Oro remained a clear choice Monday atop a new 2018 Kentucky Derby Media Poll assembled by, that’s not what a national panel of voters wished to discuss this week.

UAE Derby winner Mendelssohn settled at No. 3, just behind Florida Derby winner Audible, as it “looks like the Euros are finally live for the first Saturday in May,” said Mike Hartnett, weekend news anchor for Louisville’s NBC affiliate, WAVE3. “Mendelssohn’s UAE Derby was a jaw-dropper.”

The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner proved he can run on dirt, too, in surging to an 18 1/2-length victory on the Dubai World Cup undercard. The performance secured the $3 million purchase, who’s trained by Aidan O’Brien, his trip to Churchill Downs.

2013 KY Derby contender VerrazanoBolt d’Oro captured 14 first-place votes from representatives of the Daily Racing Form, BloodHorse, NBC and other leading racing outlets. Mendelssohn received the next-highest total, five, including one from Paulick Report Editor-in-Chief Scott Jagow.

“Despite the historical irrelevance of the UAE Derby on the Kentucky Derby, it is impossible to shade Mendelssohn’s rousing performance Saturday,” Jagow said. “He’s already won on three continents and three different surfaces, with his drilling of the competition in Dubai coming over dirt. A half-brother to Beholder, one of the great champions of recent memory, the sky appears to be the limit for the son of Scat Daddy.

“And while there are still questions to be asked, this week he deserves to shoot straight to the top.”

Bolt d’Oro is set for his final prep in Saturday’s Santa Anita Derby, one of three points-paying races that will run within minutes of one another coast to coast. Keeneland also hosts the Blue Grass Stakes and Aqueduct its Wood Memorial.

Rebel Stakes winner Magnum Moon is fourth in this week’s rankings with Justify — a budding star from the Bob Baffert barn also going in the Santa Anita Derby — fifth.

A major shift occurred in the wake of news regarding another Baffert trainee, McKinzie, who will miss the Santa Anita Derby due to injury. With the Grade 1 winner’s status unknown moving forward, the Street Sense colt dropped to No. 10, but not completely out of the poll, as his 40 qualifying points earned are enough should McKinzie be healthy by May 5.

Good Magic, Solomini, Noble Indy and Enticed also appeared in the Top 10 this week. Florida Derby runner-up Hofburg (13th) and European Derby trail winner Gronkowski (19th) entered the rankings for the first time.

“Audible and Mendelssohn will, undoubtedly, move up the tote board after Saturday’s performances, but I am still a believer in that history does matter,” said Gene McLean, author of the Louisville Thoroughbred Society’s Pressbox. “If you believe in the ‘Curse of Apollo,’ then you have to have reservations that a New York-bred and a horse coming from Dubai have similar history issues against them. As such, Bolt d’Oro becomes ‘the’ horse to beat, if he was not already.”

But the Thoroughbred Daily News’ Bill Finley summed up the thoughts of most voters this week by saying, simply: “Mendelssohn. Wow!”

Kentucky Derby Media Poll (Week 6)
 Horse (1st-place votes)  Points Previous 
 1. Bolt d’Oro (14)  500 1
 2. Audible (3)  463 6
 3. Mendelssohn (5)  436 15
 4. Magnum Moon  423 4
 5. Justify (2)  400 3
 6. Good Magic  389  5
 7. Solomini (1)  348 7
 8. Noble Indy  314 9
 9. Enticed  307 10
 10. McKinzie (1)  270 2
 11. Quip  216 12
 12. My Boy Jack  208 13
 13. Hofburg  196  N/R
 14. Flameaway  161  14
 15. Lone Sailor  116  17
 16. Instilled Regard  112 16
 17. Runaway Ghost  109 19
 18. Promises Fulfilled  91 11
 19. Gronkowski  64 N/R
 20. Free Drop Billy  52  N/R
Next 10 receiving votes (with points): Bravazo (49), Combatant (44), Mississippi (44), Vino Rosso (30), Catholic Boy (29), Blended Citizen (25), All Out Blitz (18), Kanthaka (13), Greyvitos (10), Firenze Fire (8).

This was last week’s poll:

Kentucky Derby Media Poll (Week 5)
Horse (1st-place votes) Points Previous
1. Bolt d’Oro (11) 405 1
2. McKinzie (5) 393 2
3. Justify (2) 343 6
4. Magnum Moon (1) 342 3
5. Good Magic 322 4
6. Audible 305 5
7. Solomini (1) 280 7
8. Catholic Boy (1) 252 10
9. Noble Indy 231 N/R
10. Enticed 229 8
11. Promises Fulfilled 219 9
12. Quip 163 12
13. My Boy Jack 158 14
14. Flameaway 145 11
15. Mendelssohn 107 15
16. Instilled Regard 95 16
17. Lone Sailor 80 N/R
18. Strike Power 69 17
19. Runaway Ghost 67 N/R
20. Combatant 39 18

Next 10 receiving votes on 3/28 (with points): Free Drop Billy (35), Gold Town (28), Bravazo (28), Kanthaka (15), Reride (12), Blended Citizen (12), Vino Rosso (8), Snapper Sinclair (7), Ax Man (4), Mississippi (4).

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About Editor

Rich Nilsen is a 15-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), an event he has cashed in four times. He was the first player to finish in the top 10 twice. He cashed on the NHC Tour for 2018 with a 19th overall finish. Rich was also a winner of a $24,000 package into Kentucky Derby Betting Championship I. A former executive with, Rich is a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program and is founder of, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

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