McKinzie Now Tops Kentucky Derby Media Poll

McKinzie tops ‘wide-open’ 2018 Kentucky Derby Media Poll
It’s close for first with San Felipe Stakes rival Bolt d’Oro

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Bolt d’Oro received more No. 1 votes, but it was McKinzie who earned the most points from a nationwide panel to lead Week 2 of the 2018 Kentucky Derby Media Poll assembled by

(The is a regular voting member in this poll.)

The leaders will have a chance to distinguish themselves Saturday when they clash in Santa Anita Park’s Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes, one of three points-paying Kentucky Derby preps ahead along with the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby and Aqueduct’s Grade 3 Gotham Stakes.

“We’re less than nine weeks until the Kentucky Derby, and if you’re someone who likes to see an ultra-competitive, wide-open Derby, every passing prep seems to indicate that we’re in one of those years,” said America’s Best Racing’s Dan Tordjman.

Last weekend’s Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes evidenced that as Good Magic, the champion 2-year-old and top horse in last week’s poll, ran third in his season debut as an odds-on favorite. The result led to a shakeup in the rankings, with McKinzie, the Bob Baffert trainee who’s undefeated in three starts, voters’ new top choice.

“He and Firenze Fire are the only horses in this year’s crop that have won two Kentucky Derby points races,” pointed out Dick Downey, author of The Downey Profile. “McKinzie’s wins have come at two turns, and both of Firenze Fire’s wins have come at one turn.”

Grade 2 Holy Bull winner Audible, Good Magic and Solomini, another from the Baffert barn, rounded out the Kentucky Derby Media Poll’s Top 5. Gulfstream Park’s Fountain of Youth winner, the front-running Promises Fulfilled, jumped from unranked to No. 6 this week.

“A somewhat disappointing 2018 debut for Good Magic — third in the Fountain of Youth, well behind Promises Fulfilled and Strike Power—turns things topsy turvy,” said TVG’s Caton Bredar. “Hopefully the West Coast provides some clarity this weekend.”

Bolt d’Oro, who won multiple Grade 1 races at age 2, will be making his first start since the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, a race in which he took a wide trip to finish third. Jockey Javier Castellano picked up the mount in the San Felipe for owner and trainer Mick Ruis, who purchased the son of Medaglia d’Oro for $630,000.

Also this week, Solomini received a pair of No. 1 votes, while Audible, Catholic Boy and Avery Island each received one. The 2018 Kentucky Derby Media Poll panel includes representatives from the Daily Racing Form, BloodHorse, NBC Sports and other leading outlets.

There’s much left to settle on the Kentucky Derby trail, with seemingly only Promises Fulfilled and Bravazo, the Grade 2 Risen Star winner, safely in the field having earned 50 qualifying points from their recent victories.

“The first two major prep races have been won by a 21-1 shot and an 18-1 shot,” said the Louisville Courier Journal’s Jason Frakes. “Not sure which is going to be tougher: filling out an NCAA Tournament bracket or handicapping this Derby field.”

Kentucky Derby Media Poll (Week 2)
 Horse (1st-place votes) PointsPrevious 
 1. McKinzie (9) 4993
 2. Bolt d’Oro (12) 4952
 3. Audible (1) 4514
 4. Good Magic (1) 4251
 5. Solomini (2) 4075
 6. Promises Fulfilled 335  N/R
 7. Catholic Boy (1) 3266
 8. Free Drop Billy 2898
 9. Avery Island (1) 2847
 10. Justify 2249
 11. Bravazo 20912
 12. Flameaway 18911
 13. Instilled Regard 158 10
 T14. Sporting Chance 150 14
 T14. My Boy Jack 150 13
 16. Magnum Moon 14416
 17. Strike Power 137 N/R
 18. Vino Rosso 11115
 19. Combatant 7317
 20. Kanthaka 69  N/R
Next 10 receiving votes (with points): Firenze Fire (67), Snapper Sinclair (65), Noble Indy (48), Enticed (39), Tiz Mischief (35), Mendelssohn (27), Gold Town (25), Restoring Hope (22), Untamed Domain (21), Diamond King (17).

The horse broke well today,” Gaffalione said. “I had the horse inside, Dunph, going to the lead and then (Gun It) showed a little bit of speed. When I saw they were intent on going I just tried to get him back and got him to relax. He came back to me nicely and settled well down the backside. Got a little keen going into the far turn and wanted to move a little early. But I didn’t want to take too much away from him so I tried to sit as long as I could. He was waiting on horses down the lane but I kept him at task and there was plenty of horse there.”

“Mark (Casse, the trainer) and his team have done a great job,” Gaffalione said. “They’ve had a ton of confidence in this horse the whole way. It’s just an honor to be able to ride the horse. He’s just so professional, trains great and he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Tyler Gaffalione, Rode of War of Will to victory in the G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds
  • Gene McLean

    Gene McLean

    Gene McLean began his professional career in 1977 as a sportswriter and columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader in Lexington, Ky., and was recognized as one of the state’s best writers, winning the prestigious “Sportswriter of the Year” honor in 1985. Now the President and Publisher of The Pressbox, McLean sets ...

    Full Bio >

More From Gene McLean