For Immediate Release March 7, 2016





Shagaf’s victory against the speed bias in Saturday’s Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct encouraged voters to put Shadwell Stable’s 3-for-3 into the top 10 of the Ultimate Kentucky Derby Poll presented by, but not enough to move dislodge the clear leaders: unbeaten Mohaymen, undefeated 2-year-old champion Nyquist, Mor Spirit and the Fair Grounds’ Risen Star winner Gun Runner.

The Ultimate Kentucky Derby poll appears every Monday morning at, the website of Eclipse Award-winning Horse Racing Radio Network (HRRN), which is partnering with, the official data source of the Kentucky Derby, to produce the rankings.

HRRN’s Acacia Courtney didn’t have Shagaf in her top 10 until making him No. 4 in this week’s ballot.

"The way I've gone about picking my Derby Top 10 is looking at the pros and cons of each horse,” she said. “Shagaf’s performance in the Gotham was not an easy win, but showed that he had grit and tenacity and that his rider, Irad Ortiz Jr., did as well. Physically, I think he'll grow into himself and be really good with added distance.”

In a week where the Gotham was the main action, pollster Gary Palmisano already is looking forward to this coming weekend’s Kentucky Derby Future Wager.

“I think the top two, Mohaymen and Nyquist, will take a good bit of money and one of them could possibly be favored over the field,” said Palmisano, Churchill Downs’ VIP Player Services Manager. “I will be looking at some of the lesser-hyped prospects such as Mo Tom, Brody's Cause and Danzing Candy that could provide some nice value.”

The talk of the week was unbeaten champion filly Songbird, with many fans going to social media to convince (so far unsuccessfully) owner Rick Porter and trainer Jerry Hollendorfer to run her in the Kentucky Derby instead of the Kentucky Oaks. Voter Jeff Siegel, a long-time fixture in California racing and handicapping, weighed in:

“There's no doubt that - pending the San Felipe Stakes - Songbird would be heavily favored in the Santa Anita Derby, especially with Nyquist leaving town,” Siegel wrote. “However, the $400,000 Santa Anita Oaks April 9 definitely is next, the $1 million purse of the same-day Santa Anita Derby notwithstanding.  Based on pure form at this stage, she's every bit as good if not better than Winning Colors, who won both the Santa Anita Derby and the Kentucky Derby 28 years ago. The thing, though, is that Songbird is very, very fast - she's never been headed - and while both Jerry Hollendorfer and his assistant Dan Ward believe she could rate behind other horses if the situation dictated, I'm not sold she would be happy doing it.”

“Also, I'm not convinced quite yet that she'd be at her best at 10 furlongs, at least at this stage of her development. So, instead of subjecting her to the rigors of the Triple Crown, I believe they'll employ the ‘Zenyatta Plan’ - a conservative ‘bum-of-the-month’ campaign designed to pile up as many consecutive wins as she can without taking any real risks until there's nothing else left to do.  I'm not sure I wouldn't be tempted to do the same.”

The Ultimate Kentucky Derby Poll presented by is overseen by five-time Eclipse Award-winning turf writer Jennie Rees, who provides comments on the consensus top 10 at

Other Ultimate pollsters are Michael Beychok, 2012 National Handicapping Champion and Eclipse Award Handicapper of the Year; reigning NHC Tour winner Jonathon Kinchen; Ed DeRosa, director of marketing for and director of communications for; James Scully, head of the Editorial Department at and a lead-contributor and content manager for’s blog and the Kentucky Derby websiteHRRN president and co-founder Mike Penna; Jude Feld, HRRN analyst and former trainer; racing journalist and analyst Caton Bredar; Steve Byk, host of the popular weekday racing show At the Race with Steve Byk; and  Jim Mulvihill, director of media and industry relations for the National Thoroughbred Racing Association.


About HRRN

The Horse Racing Radio Network is your home for Eclipse Award winning coverage of the biggest events in racing throughout the year.  HRRN broadcasts more than 100 stakes races and is the official radio network of the Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup World Championships.  HRRN also produces a series of popular talk shows aired throughout the week on SiriusXM satellite radio:  Xpressbet Radio on HRRN (Wednesday – Friday, 3-6 p.m. ET), Jock Talk presented by Tito’s Handmade Vodka (Tuesday, 6-7 p.m. ET), Trainer Talk presented by Fasig-Tipton (Wednesday, 6-7 p.m. ET), Brisnet Call In Show (Thursday, 6-7 p.m. ET), Xpressbet Weekend Stakes Preview (Friday, 6-7 p.m. ET) and the Equine Forum (Saturday, 8-10 a.m. ET). 

For more information visit, follow us on Twitter @HRRN and like “Horse Racing Radio Network” on Facebook

About is the official data source of the Kentucky Derby,, and Churchill Downs Inc.’s family of racetracks. Founded in 1971 by Richard “Dick” Broadbent III as Bloodstock Research Information Services, was the first large-scale website to offer past performances online when it launched in 1996. Acquired by CDI in 1996, is a leading provider of horse racing information. Follow on Twitter @Brisnet.

About Jennie Rees

Jennie Rees, a five-time Eclipse Award winner and 2014 inductee into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame’s Joe Hirsch Media Roll of Honor, covered racing for The (Louisville) Courier-Journal for 32 years before leaving newspaper journalism to specialize in horse-racing communications, advocacy and fan education. Follow her on Twitter @TracksideJennie and at “Trackside Jennie” on Facebook.