Omaha Beach Tops KY Derby Media Poll

(Omaha Beach winning the Arkansas Derby / Photo Courtesy of Oaklawn Park)

By Jonathan Lintner /

Eyes on works as Omaha Beach leads 2019 Kentucky Derby Media Poll

Omaha Beach collected 16 of 24 first-place votes in this week’s edition of the 2019 Kentucky Derby Media Poll, but he’s no lock to keep them all in next week’s final Top 20 assembled by

Representatives of racing industry trade publications and general news outlets have turned their attention from final prep races to final workouts while contemplating their lists.

“The trick now is figuring out which of these is going to run the race of his life on the first Saturday in May,” said Tim Wilkin, reporter for the Albany Times-Union.

In the meantime, Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith’s decision to stay with Arkansas Derby (G1) winner Omaha Beach, rather than ride back the Santa Anita Derby (G1) hero Roadster, secured a solid No. 1.

The son of War Front already arrived at Churchill Downs, where he’ll put in his final workout this weekend. There, trainer Richard Mandella had a quarter crack re-patched Sunday and sparked some debate about the favorite — but not among this group.

Roadster, Game Winner, Tacitus and Improbable rounded out this week’s top five.

“Things will start moving around once we see these horses put in their final serious workouts,” said TVG’s Scott Hazelton. “Works are key, especially when they get a chance to work at Churchill.”

“It’s all about the works now, but it’s also a great time to remind myself not to get too caught up in a ‘good’ work,’” added Horse Racing Nation’s Mike Shutty. “Looking back at notes from last year, a lot of horses had great works leading up to the Derby but didn’t convert those into any success.

“Stay vigilant, but lean far more on the races submitted.”

By My Standards, the Louisiana Derby (G2) winner who has submitted eye-catching breezes, actually dropped two spots to No. 10 in this week’s poll. In the only other changes, Spinoff passed Long Range Toddy for 14th, while Bourbon War, who figures to miss the Derby on points, landed in 20th.

Master Fencer, Japan’s contender whose connections have accepted an invitation to run, continued to receive votes.

“Maximum Security also has my attention, despite the doubts about his pace-aided Florida Derby because his stride and physicality are impressive,” said Paulick Report editor Scott Jagow, with that colt No. 6 in consensus voting.

“Time to find some odds to spice up the exotics, and I think’s Shug’s horse, Code of Honor is a great place to start,” added Horse Racing Nation’s Brian Zipse, with that one ranked No. 8. “He’s going to get a far kinder pace setup than he did last time when third in the Florida Derby.”

“But don’t forget about War of Will,” Steve Bittenbender, of, said about the No. 12 horse, who won two points preps before suffering a mild injury leaving the gate in the Louisiana Derby. “He’s one bad step away from possibly being a top five horse in this poll.”

Kentucky Derby Media Poll (Week 9)
 Horse (1st-place votes) PointsPrevious 
 1. Omaha Beach (16) 470 1
 2. Roadster (1) 428 2
 3. Game Winner (3) 420 3
 4. Tacitus (2) 405 4
 5. Improbable (1) 392 5
 6. Maximum Security 336 6
 7. Vekoma 311 7
 8. Code of Honor 269 T8
 9. Win Win Win (1) 252 10
 10. By My Standards 247 T8
 11. Tax 236 11
 12. War of Will 214 12
 13. Haikal 177 13
 14. Spinoff 174 15
 15. Long Range Toddy 160 14
 16. Cutting Humor 155 16
 17. Country House 143 17
 18. Plus Que Parfait 92 18
 19. Gray Magician 43 19
 20. Bourbon War 33 NR

Others receiving votes: Signalman, Master Fencer, Anothertwistafate, Alwaysmining, Bodexpress.

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

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