Featured Photo/ Courtesy of Jamey Price — Eclipse Sportswire

DEL MAR, CA – NOVEMBER 04: Good Magic #6, ridden by Jose Ortiz, pulls ahead during the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile race on Day 2 of the 2017 Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Del Mar Racing Club on November 4, 2017 in Del Mar, California. (Photo by Jamey Price/Eclipse Sportswire/Breeders Cup)

Good Magic No. 1 in first 2018 Kentucky Derby Media Poll
Six horses receive first-place votes from nationwide panel of experts

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A nationwide panel of experts (The Pressbox has been asked to participate) 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.”

Unbeaten McKinzie, Grade 2 Holy Bull winner Audible and Solomini rounded out the Top 5. Overall, six horses including Catholic Boy and Avery Island, received first-place votes.

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.

To add, 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. Advised NBC Sports’ Randy Moss, who will help lead the network’s Derby Day coverage: “More often than not, what we think we know in February turns out to be a mirage once May rolls around. But we can still make quasi-informed guesses.”


Kentucky Derby Media Poll (Week 1)
 Horse (first-place votes)  Points
 1. Good Magic (12)  512
 2. Bolt d’Oro (5)  496
 3. McKinzie (6)  488
 4. Audible  434
 5. Solomini (2)  426
 6. Catholic Boy (1)  340
 7. Avery Island (1)  296
 8. Free Drop Billy  267
 9. Justify  253
 10. Instilled Regard  207
 11. Flameaway  201
 12. Bravazo  199
 13. My Boy Jack  181
 14. Sporting Chance  173
 15. Vino Rosso  150
 16. Magnum Moon  148
 17. Combatant  111
 18. Snapper Sinclair  92
 19. Firenze Fire  85
 20. Noble Indy  83
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).