For Immediate Release March 28, 2016
Gun Runner moved from No. 5 to No. 3 in the Ultimate Kentucky Derby Poll presented by Brisnet.com with his 4 1/2-length victory over 30-1 shot Tom’s Ready in Saturday’s $1 million TwinSpires.com Louisiana Derby at the Fair Grounds. Unbeatens Mohaymen and Nyquist, who meet in this Saturday’s Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park, remain entrenched in the top two spots, with Mohaymen getting 10 first-place votes and Nyquist two among the panel of 13 noted handicappers, turf journalists and analysts. However, turf writer Jennie Rees promoted Gun Runner, who is now 4 for 5 in his career, to first after having him in No. 2 since the poll’s beginning.
“His 104 Bris speed figure in the Louisiana Derby indicates he’s as fast as Mohaymen and the other leading 3-year-old colts,” Rees said of the Candy Ride colt. “But on top of it, he always pays well at the windows despite his great record, while Mohaymen has always been favored at short prices. I love Gun Runner’s steady improvement along with the value he offers.”
The Ultimate Kentucky Derby poll appears every Monday morning at horseracingradio.net, the website of Eclipse Award-winning Horse Racing Radio Network (HRRN), which is partnering with Brisnet.com, the official data source of the Kentucky Derby, to produce the rankings. HRRN will have extensive coverage of the Florida Derby this week beginning at 4:00 ET, including the exclusive live broadcast of the race.
“Gun Runner did exactly what I thought he could do going in to the Louisiana Derby,” said racing analyst Caton Bredar, who made no change in her top four, including Gun Runner at No. 3. “He also appeared to get something out of the race physically and mentally, as the drifting in through the stretch and swapping leads late in the race was either a sign of a little fatigue or a loss of focus or a combination of both.
“I think it’s a good sign to see areas where he can improve going forward and with six weeks to the big dance, there’s plenty of time for him to do so. He beat a large field, also a plus, but on the other hand, didn’t necessarily beat the strongest field from top to bottom. So the leaders Mohaymen and Nyquist remain unchanged and Tom’s Ready moves up as a late runner reminiscent of other Derby starters from the Dallas Stewart barn—peaking at the right time and able to run just well enough late to belong on the fringes of the top players.”
Lani jumps into the poll at No. 13 after capturing the $2 million UAE Derby. He’s expected to become only the second Japanese-based horse to run in the Kentucky Derby, following Ski Captain, who finished 14th in 1995. Lani’s performance Saturday in Dubai validated pollster Michael Beychok including Kentucky-born son of Tapit in the poll all along, including No. 9 this week.
"I've had Lani in my Top 10/20 since the first poll, and I think we saw why on Saturday night,” said Beychok, winner of the 2012 National Handicapping Championship and Eclipse Award Handicapper of the Year, who was in Dubai. “Customary big bold move against a bias to defeat a well thought of filly on her home track. Was a big effort and more improvement could be coming in the U.S.”
The biggest point of discussion this week figures to be how to evaluate Mo Tom, the heavy Louisiana Derby favorite who finished fourth after losing all shot in mid-stretch when jockey Corey Lanerie took him to the inside and checked sharply behind a stopping horse. Mo Tom, No. 10 in the poll this week, had votes ranging from No. 3 (Beychok) to No. 17 (James Scully, head of the Editorial Department at Brisnet.com and a lead-contributor and content manager for TwinSpires.com’s blog and the Kentucky Derby website).
“I already called Mor Spirit this year's Dollar Bill, so using the moniker for Mo Tom seems like overkill,” said Ed DeRosa, Brisnet.com’s marketing director and TwinSpires.com’s publicity director, who has Mo Tom at No. 12 and Mor Spirit at No. 13. “On the other hand, maybe this year's Derby has more dollar bills than a strip club.”
“Horses who don't win prep races can win the Kentucky Derby. Just in the past 11 years Giacomo and Mine That Bird come immediately to mind. Of course, they paid $100 each whereas Mo Tom has the look of a horse who's going to be less than 20-to-1 following two troubled trips going into a race known for troubled trips.
“Throw in the six-week layoff, a reason I'm bearish on the horse — Gun Runner — who actually won the races Mo Tom was in. It’s just a recipe for a big underlay a la Dollar Bill being the 6.6-to-1 second choice in the 2001 Derby (he finished 15th of 17).”
The Ultimate Kentucky Derby Poll presented by Brisnet.com is overseen by Rees, a five-time Eclipse Award-winning turf writer who provides comments on the consensus top 20 at horseracingradio.net.
Other Ultimate Kentucky Derby pollsters are HRRN co-founder and president Mike Penna; HRRN analyst and former trainer Jude Feld; reigning NHC Tour winner Jonathon Kinchen; HRRN analyst and former Miss Connecticut Acacia Courtney; Steve Byk, host of the popular weekday racing show At the Races with Steve Byk; Jim Mulvihill, Director of Media & Industry Relations at the National Thoroughbred Racing Association; Gary Palmisano, VIP Player Services Manager for Churchill Downs and TwinSpires.com; and Jeff Siegel, the prominent California analyst, handicapper and longtime horse owner.
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).
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About Brisnet.com
Brisnet.com is the official data source of the Kentucky Derby, TwinSpires.com, and Churchill Downs Inc.’s family of racetracks. Founded in 1971 by Richard “Dick” Broadbent III as Bloodstock Research Information Services, Brisnet.com was the first large-scale website to offer past performances online when it launched in 1996. Acquired by CDI in 1996, Brisnet.com is a leading provider of horse racing information. Follow Brisnet.com 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.