Magnum Moon Leaps To Top Three In Contender Status For Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby is fast approaching! The annual “Run For The Roses” will take place on Saturday May 5th from Churchill Downs at 6:45 PM. Visit this website often in the coming days to find out the best places in Virginia to watch and wager, to show off your fancy hats, and to sip mint juleps. Each of the next four weekends features a $1 Million Derby prep race — Louisiana Derby (March 24), Florida Derby (March 31), Santa Anita Derby (April 7) and Arkansas Derby (April 14). Bet the action at Virginia Bets OTB in Richmond, Chesapeake and Collinsville, or on line at TVG,com,, and 

This week’s edition of the 2018 Kentucky Derby Media Poll assembled by 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?”

Magnum Moon wins the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn on March 17th. Photo courtesy of Coady Photography.

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.”

Laurel Park

Laurel Park

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.

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).