(Magnum Moon winning the G2 Rebel Stakes last Saturday /  Photo Courtesy of Oaklawn Park)

Magnum Moon, Justify shake up 2018 Kentucky Derby Media Poll
Both are threatening the race’s 135-year-old curse of Apollo

This week’s edition of the 2018 Kentucky Derby Media Poll assembled by HorseRacingNation.com resulted in a debate not about whether time is limited for the race’s 135-year-old streak, but rather which contender may end it.

Saturday’s Grade 2 Rebel Stakes winner Magnum Moon vaulted from 18th to No. 3 in the rankings, voted on by a national panel of experts who also placed Justify at No. 6 in their consensus poll.

“Crazy year,” said the Southern California News Group’s Art Wilson. “Two of the top Kentucky Derby candidates — Justify and Magnum Moon — didn’t race at age 2. Are we looking at another Apollo?”

Yes, Apollo remains the first and so far only horse to win the Kentucky Derby without racing at age 2. He accomplished the feat in 1882, before the Derby even ran on the first Saturday in May, and when its distance measured 1 1/2 miles, not the current era’s 1 1/4.

Much has changed since then, aside from Derby winners requiring foundation provided by a juvenile season. Perhaps 2018 marks the exception.

“Todd Pletcher was bound to make his presence known on the Derby trail,” said The Paulick Report’s Scott Jagow, “and with Magnum Moon, it looks he has a colt something like last year’s Always Dreaming,” the 2017 Kentucky Derby winner.

Jagow added: “Justify looms the colt with no Derby points but a heckuva lot of potential.”

Magnum Moon entered the Rebel 2-for-2 with a maiden victory and allowance score going two turns. Justify boasts a similar resume on the West Coast for trainer Bob Baffert heading into his stakes debut. The two are expected to meet April 14 in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby as a final prep before moving on to Churchill Downs.

“Magnum Moon beat a good field in the Rebel and he ran like a horse who will carry on at longer distances,” said Churchill Downs’ Joe Kristufek. “Justify is super talented, but he still needs to pass the class test.”

As far as the front runners, order didn’t change in the Top 2, with West Coast star Bolt d’Oro leading McKinzie in the rankings, which include votes from representatives of the Daily Racing Form, BloodHorse and NBC, among other leading outlets.

Ruled the winner of the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes via a controversial disqualification, Bolt d’Oro collected 13 first-place votes to McKinzie’s nine. Magnum Moon, Audible, Justify, Solomini and Catholic Boy also received No. 1 votes in Week 4 of the poll.

Good Magic slotted in fourth, but without a first-place vote to his name, while Enticed and Promises Fulfilled also found spots in the Top 10.

Blended Citizen, winner of last weekend’s other Derby prep, the Grade 3 Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway Park, came in at No. 26 on points.

Major Kentucky Derby preps begin with Saturday’s Grade 2, $1 million Louisiana Derby. Among the contenders are the Nos. 13 (Bravazo), 14 (My Boy Jack) and 20 (Snapper Sinclair) horses in this week’s Kentucky Derby Media Poll.

The Pressbox is a voting member of the Media panel voting on the poll.

Kentucky Derby Media Poll (Week 4)
Horse (1st-place votes) Points Previous
1. Bolt d’Oro (13) 539 1
2. McKinzie (9) 529 2
3. Magnum Moon (1) 443 18
4. Good Magic 441 3
5. Audible (1) 437 4
6. Justify (2) 433 T5
7. Solomini (1) 374 T5
8. Enticed 333 7
9. Promises Fulfilled 322 8
10. Catholic Boy (1) 294 9
11. Flameaway 224 11
12. Quip 223 12
13. Bravazo 206 13
14. My Boy Jack 176 T15
15. Mendelssohn 156 17
16. Instilled Regard 146 14
17. Strike Power 120 19
18. Combatant 113 N/R
19. Free Drop Billy 82 20
20. Snapper Sinclair 61 N/R

Next 10 receiving votes (with points): Noble Indy (54), Gold Town (31), Sporting Chance (23), Gronkowski (18), Kanthaka (17), Blended Citizen (14), Vino Rosso (12), Diamond King (9), Restoring Hope (8), Reride (6).