Close menu
It’s Baffert’s World in First 2019 Kentucky Derby Media Poll

It’s Baffert’s World in First 2019 Kentucky Derby Media Poll

Unbeaten Bob Baffert trainees Game Winner and Improbable rank 1-2, while a third runner from the Hall of Famer’s barn, Mucho Gusto, rounded out the Top 5, in the first edition of the 2019 Kentucky Derby Media Poll.

Released each Monday leading up to the May 4 race at Churchill Downs, the Kentucky Derby Media Poll’s panel features representatives of the Daily Racing Form, BloodHorse, Thoroughbred Daily News, and Racing Dudes, among other racing industry trade publications and general news outlets.

The results for the first edition of the 2019 Kentucky Derby Media Poll assembled by can be found below, along with comments from the voting media.

 Kentucky Derby Media Poll (Week 1)
 Horse (1st-place votes) Points 
 1. Game Winner (19) 581
 2. Improbable (5) 579 
 3. War of Will (3) 551
 4. Hidden Scroll 425
 5. Mucho Gusto 405 
 6. Instagrand (2) 394
 7. Signalman  367 
 8. Country House (1) 323
 9. Galilean (1) 239
 10. Gunmetal Gray  236 
 11. Vekoma  229
 12. Tax  225
 13. Harvey Wallbanger  192 
 14. Win Win Win  148
 15. Well Defined  136
 16. Global Campaign  121
 17. Dream Maker  116 
 18. Maximus Mischief 111 
 19. Mind Control 101
 20. Super Steed 99

Next 10 receiving votes: Nolo Contesto, Anothertwistafate, Omaha Beach, Bourbon War, Sueno, Mucho, Long Range Toddy, Code of Honor, Spinoff, Roadster.

Fountain of Youth Picks

XBTV’s Zoe Cadman: “Early days. But lest us not forget that Justify broke his maiden on Feb. 18. — and the rest, they say, is history.”

Lexington Herald-Leader’s John Clay: “Anxiously waiting the March 9 San Felipe to see Game Winner and Improbable go head-to-head in their 2019 debuts. War of Will was impressive in Risen Star.”

WLKY’s Fred Cowgill: “It’s early. Ten weeks away yes, doesn’t sound like much, but at this point a year ago future Triple Crown winner Justify was barely on the radar.”

SportsLine’s Jody Demling: “At this point, I’m not going to have anyone other than Game Winner on top, but there’s some real intrigue on the Derby trail this spring. Looks to me like there could be three or four others right there.”

Brisnet’s Ed DeRosa: “Still waiting to be wowed, so I’m in the meantime going against the grain with a No. 1 (Galilean) who could wow when he steps into the graded stakes ranks. From a most likely winner standpoint, though, it’s Baffert’s pair and everyone else.”

TVG’s Megan Devine: “Tough to look past Improbable, who has a massive stride, floats over the ground and has passed every test they have given him. I’ve loved him since even before he debuted. War of Will was impressive and looked like a mature individual amongst a slew of youngsters who are still finding their feet. Sueno had a horrendous trip in Arkansas and could be a major player in his next start.”

Downey Profile’s Dick Downey: “At this time last year, the eventual winner of the Kentucky Derby had just won a debut maiden race.”

BloodHorse/Thoroughbred Racing Commentary’s Bob Ehalt: “It’s Bob Baffert’s world and welcome to it, though the outlook could dramatically change after the Fountain of Youth — especially if Hidden Scroll serves up an encore of his impressive debut victory.”

Thoroughbred Daily News’ Bill Finley: “Can’t wait to see Improbable vs. Game Winner.”

WAVE3’s Mike Hartnett: “Game Winner has to be on top as the big preps begin.”

BloodHorse’s Steve Haskin: “With so many brilliant late-developing horses, most of the answers will be provided after the March 9 cavalcade of stakes.”

TVG’s Scott Hazelton: “Right now I am all in on War of Will, which started with his win in the Lecomte. He has been so professional with his high cruising speed and he doesn’t miss a beat. I can’t wait to see what Baffert has with Game Winner and Improbable because clearly these are his best chances to win the Derby. I also think we saw the real Super Steed with his Southwest Stakes win, he’s the longshot player as of right now.”

Paulick Report’s Scott Jagow: “This is like the start of the college basketball season. No one knows who might surprise, but North Carolina, Duke and Kentucky are always ranked top 10. In horse racing terms, they’re all Bob Baffert. War of Will has the 2019 resume so far but Hidden Scroll has huge upside with a 14-length win in his first start.”

Buffalo News’ Gene Kershner: “We’ll see what’s written on the Scroll next weekend at Gulfstream. Galilean has the most Derby-winner worthy name by far.”

Churchill Downs’ Kevin Kerstein: “We are in the stage on the Road to the Kentucky Derby where there are many questions and not a lot of answers. These answers will come quickly over the next seven weeks with several top 2-year-old prospects returning for their 3-year-old debuts and 15 key Championship Series races to be run. Be prepared for many shakeups and changes before the first Saturday in May.”

Churchill Downs’ Joe Kristufek: “Let the fun begin. With some of the top horses in the division set to square off the next two Saturdays, the picture should become a lot clearer. We haven’t seen him since August and he’s yet to be tested over a route of ground, but Instagrand could be a freak, so at this stage, he’s still my No. 1 prospect.”

Daily Racing Form’s Marty McGee: “With pre-emptive apologies to the connections of whichever horse winds up being the favorite this year, please, please, please tell me this is the year the chalk doesn’t win the Kentucky Derby. Enough already.”

Thoroughbred Daily News’ Ben Massam: “War of Will has certainly impressed in his Fair Grounds scores, but Bob Baffert’s unbeaten pair of juvenile champ Game Winner and Improbable merit top billing at this early stage.”

The Pressbox’s Gene McLean: “While Game Winner will remain at the top slot until he either wins the Kentucky Derby or proves that he should not be there, I think we all have to recognize the growing list of accomplishments that are stockpiling for War of Will. This son of War Front has been kicking butt and taking names since he was moved to the dirt. He has speed to get a forward running position. He has versatility which enables him to stalk his prey. And, he has proven that he can put away horses and move away from all contenders in the late going. Impressive. Contender.”

TimeformUS’ Craig Milkowski: “The early preps for the Derby for been thoroughly uninspiring. Looking forward to some of the bigger names returning in coming weeks.”

NBC Sports’ Randy Moss: “I suppose it’s a good conversation starter, but even in late February this exercise can be as challenging as trying to pick next year’s NFL playoff teams before the draft, free agency and training camps.”

Churchill Downs’ Darren Rogers: “The start of the Kentucky Derby Championship Series is like Saturday at The Masters — it’s moving day. The field has to catch Baffert’s strong West Coast duo of champion Game Winner and Improbable, but fellow Hall of Famer Mott has East Coast-based Hidden Scroll, who has the look of a colt that could be blisteringly good.”

Horse Racing Nation’s Matt Shifman: “The Kentucky Derby trail will get very real in the next couple weeks when Game Winner, Improbable, Instagrand, and Signalman make their 2019 debuts. The late start makes this voter wonder if their trainers are rightfully confident in their horses or if some big disappointments are to come.”

Horse Racing Nation’s Mike Shutty: “While Baffert holds a strong hand, the charges from others are maturing and impressing now. Country House clearly needs to mature and run more professionally, but this colt is just loaded with talent and has the energy distribution profile (assuming he learns to break) that wins the Kentucky Derby.”

Racing Dudes’ Mike Spector: “The Top 6 on the 2019 Derby rankings should be universally accepted as Baffert’s top three should be sprinkled in with the upside of Hidden Scroll and Instagrand with the consistency of War of Will’s performances this year. After that, it’s a free for all that will be sorted out starting with the Fountain of Youth this weekend and the Mega Saturday coming up on March 9 with four Derby points races.”

America’s Best Racing’s Dan Tordjman: “At this early stage of prep season, only War of Will has set himself apart from the rest of the 3-year-old contenders on the Derby trail who’ve competed to date in 2019. Given the non-emergence of multiple strong contenders, Derby hopefuls who’ve yet to race in 2019 including Game Winner, Signalman and Improbable, are pretty high on my list.”

Santa Anita Park’s Jon White: “The Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park this Saturday and the San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita a week later on March 9 no doubt will have a significant impact on the Kentucky Derby picture. Can Hidden Scroll follow his dazzling debut performance with a Grade 2 victory in the Fountain of Youth? And it appears the San Felipe might attract not one, not two, but three biggies in Game Winner, Improbable and Instagrand.”

Albany Times-Union’s Tim Wilkin: “I have him at No. 15, but am going to keep an eye on Spinoff. Pletcher sent him to Tampa last week for first start of year and he won by 11 3/4 lengths. Did same thing with Always Dreaming in 2017 and he won by 11 /2. And Magnum Moon won at Tampa last year before winning Arkansas Derby. Just food for thought.”

Southern California News Group’s Art Wilson: “If Instagrand, Game Winner and Improbable all run in the San Felipe at Santa Anita on March 9, and that’s a huge if, it might be the most anticipated Derby prep since NyquistMohaymen in the 2016 Florida Derby. I still expect Baffert to keep his top two Derby hopefuls separated until May 4.”

Horse Racing Nation’s Brian Zipse: “War of Will has been the best 3-year-old in the country so far, but will his spot on top last only until the returns of the California stars; Game Winner, Improbable, and Instagrand?”

Join the Inner Circle

Sign up for exclusive 10% discount on orders, plus be the first to access our daily free and premium horse racing picks, articles, podcasts, and more!

Sign Up