LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – There's a new favorite for the Kentucky Derby, if early Las Vegas odds and the weekly media poll conducted by HorseRacingNation.com are any indication.
Arkansas Derby winner Omaha Beach vaulted to No. 1 after splashing to victory over the Bob Baffert-trained Improbable on Saturday, earning 15 of the 28 first-place votes cast in the poll to supplant Baffert's Roadster, who won the Santa Anita Derby. Roadster still drew five first-place votes and was second in the poll, followed by Game Winner, Tacitus and Improbable.
Omaha Beach, a Fox Hill Farm colt trained by Hall of Famer Richard Mandella, is one of only five Derby contenders to win two of the 34 prep races that make up the Road to the Kentucky Derby. He was made a 3-1 favorite in odds from the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook over the weekend. The three Baffert colts are the only others with single-digit odds.
"With the final preps in, one thing is certain: parity," Horse Racing Nation's Mike Shutty said. "You can make a win case for as many as eight horses, and the Kentucky Derby winner doesn't necessarily go through California as many are conceding. Let the touting begin."
Another double-prep winner, Long Range Toddy, fell from eighth to 14th after not hitting the board at Oaklawn on Saturday. He arrived on the Churchill Downs backside Monday morning, along with Improbable and Country House, a Bill Mott-trained colt who qualified for the Derby and re-entered the media poll at No. 17 off a third-place finish in the Arkansas Derby.
"It appears the top storyline for this Kentucky Derby is a couple of well-respected trainers who have never won the Derby going against five-time winner Bob Baffert," said Scott Jagow of The Paulick Report. "Baffert-trained Roadster could well be the favorite, while his Game Winner may be close behind, and the trainers seeking their first win, Richard Mandella with Omaha Beach and Bill Mott with Tacitus are in the top group, along with Code of Honor, trained by Shug McGaughey, who won the Derby once with Orb."
While the favorite seems decided, the real Derby handicapping is only beginning.
"(Omaha Beach) now has defeated both of the highly regarded Bob Baffert runners in Improbable and Game Winner," Horse Racing Nation's Matt Shiffman said. "However, it is Tacitus, Roadster, and Maximum Security who head to the Kentucky Derby with two major characteristics of recent winners: a 100-point victory and an undefeated 3-year-old campaign."
Let the speculation begin.
KENTUCKY DERBY MEDIA POLL
|1. Omaha Beach (15)||531||4|
|2. Roadster (5)||499||1|
|3. Game Winner (1)||482||3|
|4. Tacitus (3)||470||5|
|5. Improbable (1)||448||2|
|6. Maximum Security (1)||390||7|
|8. By My Standards||306||11|
|8. Code of Honor||306||9|
|10. Win Win Win (1)||292||10|
|12. War of Will||243||13|
|14. Long Range Toddy||189||8|
|16. Cutting Humor||172||15|
|17. Country House||138||NR|
|18. Plus Que Parfait||120||20|
|20. Gray Magician||57||NR|
Also receiving votes: Bourbon War, Signalman, Master Fencer, Instagrand, Bodexpress, Owendale, Galilean.
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