Churchill Downs

Churchill Downs, May 2018.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The experts voting in the Kentucky Derby Media Poll by HorseRacingNation.com are in no agreement on who will win the Run for the Roses on May 4, but they have a pretty good consensus on who will train the winner.

Bob Baffert trainees rank 1-2-3 in the latest edition of the poll after a busy weekend of prep races saw one Baffert colt rally back to the top of the poll and an old favorite hang in there.

Roadster is Baffert’s “TMZ Horse,” made famous when the website asked the trainer to name his next big star last July. Baffert gave Roadster’s name then saw another 2-year-old in his stable, Game Winner, win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and wind up as the early Derby favorite. Roadster spent nearly five months on the sidelines after surgery to repair an obstruction in his throat.

After winning his first start of 2019, Baffert threw Roadster back into the fire in the Santa Anita Derby on Saturday, and he responded with a massive late run to beat Game Winner by a half-length.

That performance was enough for the 30 media panelists to vote Roadster to the top of the latest Derby Media Poll, with Game Winner slipping to No. 3 and Improbable, a Baffert-trained colt who will run in Saturday’s Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn who still needs to collect enough points to qualify for the Derby, at No. 2.

Poll voter Jody Demling of CBS Sportsline said, “I'm sure of one thing after the weekend: Bob Baffert is likely to win the Kentucky Derby again. I’m just not sure which of the three it will be.”

Blue Grass Stakes winner Vekoma jumped from No. 17 to No. 6. Tacitus, who won the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, is in at No. 5, with Richard Mandella’s Omaha Beach in the No. 4 spot.

Like Improbable, Omaha Beach still has some work to do, sitting squarely on the Derby bubble in 19th place in the points standings heading into Saturday's Arkansas Derby. That race awards 100 points to the winner, 40 for second, 20 for third and 10 points to the fourth-place finisher. Saturday's Lexington Stakes, with points values of 20-8-4-2, is the only other points prep race yet to be run.

“With less than four weeks remaining until the first Saturday in May, this is one of the most competitive Derby fields to date,” Churchill Downs’ Kevin Kerstein said. “There have been 39 different winners on the Road to the Kentucky Derby through 43 races.”

Said poll voter Mike Spector of Racing Dudes: “Some good horses will be left on the outside looking in.”

On the other hand, Florida Derby runner-up Bodexpress, UAE Derby runner-up Gray Magician and Master Fencer, a qualifier out of Japan, are all safely in the Derby field on points but remain just outside the Derby Media Poll’s Top 20.

The complete poll, with position, horse (first place votes) and points:

  1. Roadster (8) — 518
  2. Improbable (6) — 493
  3. Game Winner (3) — 492
  4. Omaha Beach (5) — 467
  5. Tacitus (3) — 457
  6. Vekoma — 373
  7. Maximum Security (1) — 363
  8. Long Range Toddy (1) — 326
  9. Code of Honor — 276
  10. Win Win Win (1) — 268
  11. By My Standards — 257
  12. Tax  — 241
  13. War of Will — 213
  14. Haikal — 176
  15. Cutting Humor — 162
  16. Spinoff — 155
  17. Anothertwistafate — 148
  18. Bourbon War — 127
  19. Signalman — 111
  20. Plus Que Parfait — 81

Others receiving votes: Galilean, Country House, Bodexpress, Instagrand, Gray Magician, Mucho Gusto, Somelikeithotbrown, Sueno, Master Fencer, Outshine.

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