Orb Heads NTRA Pre-Derby Poll
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt

Orb  , impressive winner of the Besilu Florida Derby (gr. I) and the "buzz horse" around the backstretch of Churchill Downs heading toward the May 4 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), sits atop the National Thoroughbred Racing Association's Top 3-Year-Old Poll.

The poll, which was released April 29, is conducted by the NTRA and surveys 45 media members and industry insiders. Votes are tabulated on a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis.

Orb, a homebred for Stuart Janney III and the Phipps Stable, has caught the attention of the gathering on the backstretch at Churchill Derby week. The son of Malibu Moon   worked a half-mile in :47 4/5 the morning of April 29 for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey.

Also a winner of the Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II), Orb received 19 of the first-place votes, out-polling the unbeaten Verrazano  , who gathered 15 first-place votes and is second in the standings. Orb and Verrazano will likely vie for favoritism in the Derby after post postions are drawn May 1.

The filly Dreaming of Julia received three first-place votes and ranked ninth in the poll. She'll face a tall order in the May 3 Longines Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) against a strong field that includes 2-year-old filly champion Beholder, and the unbeaten trio of Unlimited Budget, Close Hatches, and Midnight Lucky.

The entire top 10 kept the same position as the previous week.

NTRA Top Three-Year-Old Poll
Rank, Horse (first-place votes), Points, Previous Rank
1, Orb (19), 412, 1
2, Verrazano (15), 390, 2
3, Revolutionary (5), 316, 3
4, Goldencents, 256, 4
5, Normandy Invasion (1), 217, 5
6, Itsmyluckyday (2), 210, 6
7, Overanalyze  , 142, 7
8, Vyjack, 131, 8
9, Dreaming of Julia (3), 122, 9
10, Java's War, 76, 10

Others receiving votes: Beholder (41), Will Take Charge (40), Palace Malice (24), Midnight Lucky (17), Oxbow   (17), Departing (16), Mylute (15), Unlimited Budget (6), Black Onyx (5), Frac Daddy (4), Govenor Charlie (4), Close Hatches (3), Distracting (3), Lines Of Battle (3), Falling Sky (2), Shanghai Bobby   (2), Noble Tune (1).

Game On Dude collected 19 first-place votes to remain atop the National Thoroughbred Poll. The 6-year-old gelding is fresh off a win in the Charles Town Classic (gr. II).

Second is Wise Dan, last year's Horse of the Year. He'll make his next start on Derby day in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (gr. IT), in which he'll face No. 4 Point of Entry  . Dubai World Cup Sponsored by Emirates Airline (UAE-I) winner Animal Kingdom   holds down the third spot.

NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll
Rank, Horse (first-place votes), Points, Previous Rank
1, Game On Dude (19), 407, 1
2, Wise Dan (16), 396, 2
3, Animal Kingdom (9), 340, 3
4, Point of Entry (1), 289, 4
5, Graydar  , 175, 5
6, Royal Delta, 170, 6
7, Suggestive Boy, 107, 7
8, Ron the Greek, 80, 8
9, Mizdirection, 67, 9
10, Cyber Secret, 59, 10

Others receiving votes: Orb (45), Successful Dan (42), Flat Out   (40), Verrazano (38), Fort Larned   (32), Mark Valeski (25), Centre Court (21), Dreaming Of Julia (16), Cigar Street (13), Groupie Doll (13), Jimmy Creed   (12), Beholder (11), Revolutionary (11), Clubhouse Ride (8), Swagger Jack   (8), Joyful Victory (7), Normandy Invasion (6), Amira's Prince (5), Bright Thought (5), Twilight Eclipse (5), Lady Of Shamrock (4), Optimizer (4), Jeranimo (3), Little Mike (3), Data Link   (2), Disposablepleasure (2), Cross Traffic (1), Golden Mystery (1), Interaction (1), Mucho Macho Man   (1).

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