A nationwide panel of experts ranked Good Magic, the 2-year-old champion nearing his sophomore debut, at No. 1 in the first edition of the 2018 Kentucky Derby Media Poll assembled by HorseRacingNation.com.
The son of Curlin, trained by Chad Brown and campaigned by e Five Racing, received 12 of 27 first-place votes to lead multiple Grade 1 winner Bolt d’Oro in the list released Monday.
“Until we start seeing more impressive performances, the top juveniles of 2017 remain the leaders in my opinion,” said TimeformUS’ Craig Milkowski, who joined representatives from TVG, the Daily Racing Form and BloodHorse, among many other leading outlets, in voting.
The favorites will have opportunities to firm up their positions over the next two weeks with Good Magic slated to run in Saturday’s Grade 2 Fountain Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park. On March 10, Bolt d’Oro, the multiple Grade 1 winner who suffered his first defeat in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, then goes in the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita Park.
“Per usual for this time of the year, things appear to be jumbled at the top,” said SportsLine’s Jody Demling. “But after the next couple of weeks a few things will shake out, and I think Bolt d’Oro will be the one we’ll all be talking about.”
This time of year, potential often reigns over results, and that’s reflected in Justify’s No. 9 ranking. Churchill Downs’ Darren Rogers said the colt “could be horse racing’s equivalent to Alabama freshman quarterback Tua Tagovailoa,” who came on late to lead the Crimson Tide to a recent national title. Justify didn’t debut until Feb. 18, but his 104 Beyer Speed Figure is so far the fastest of this 3-year-old crop.
Justify’s one of three horses in the rankings trained by Bob Baffert. Todd Pletcher leads all conditioners with four, while the likes of the legendary D. Wayne Lukas (No. 12 Bravazo, No. 14 Sporting Chance) and Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen (No. 17 Combatant, No. 18 Snapper Sinclair) are also represented by multiple horses.
“So much can change in the coming weeks with the seasonal debuts of Good Magic and Bolt d’Oro, depending on whether or not they can reproduce their talented 2-year-old form,” said TVG’s Britney Eurton.
“Feels a bit like last season with the level of parity among the early prep races,” added BloodHorse’s Alicia Hughes. “And who knew the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf would yield this many contenders so far?”
Four runners from that race, led by Catholic Boy, are ranked. More could join soon with the Turf winner Mendelssohn projected to try the Derby trail as soon with the new European path to Churchill Downs resuming Thursday.
The 2018 Kentucky Derby Media Poll will track contenders with a 10-week run leading up to the race.
Kentucky Derby Media Poll (Week 1)
Kentucky Derby Media Poll
Horse (first-place votes)
1. Good Magic (12)
2. Bolt d'Oro (5)
3. McKinzie (6)
5. Solomini (2)
6. Catholic Boy (1)
7. Avery Island (1)
8. Free Drop Billy
10. Instilled Regard
13. My Boy Jack
14. Sporting Chance
15. Vino Rosso
16. Magnum Moon
18. Snapper Sinclair
19. Firenze Fire
20. Noble Indy
Next 10 receiving votes (with points): Mendelssohn (56), Kanthaka (49), Strike Power (42), Marconi (41), Mask (39), Gold Town (37), Tiz Mischief (36), Enticed (33), Mourinho (24), Lombo (23).