Nyquist and Mohaymen both entered the Florida Derby as undefeated and top contenders for the run for the roses. The road to Kentucky for both Mohaymen and Nyquist has been a smooth, straight line into the gates on the first Saturday in May. The Florida Derby was dripping with hype for the match-up between the two undefeated contenders for the Kentucky Derby. But the road for Mohaymen got a little rough in Florida when he encountered a speed bump from the West Coast named Nyquist. The undefeated son of Uncle Mo shipped into Gulfstream Park and embarrassed Mohaymen on his own track. Nyquist ran with ease in his impeccable running style of head down and full throttle. The hometown favorite, Mohaymen, ran flat.
Nyquist won the Florida Derby by nearly two lengths over Majesto, who was traveling well along the rail. Mohaymen lugged in for fourth, nearly five lengths behind Nyquist. In a regular race, with a regular horse, you would look at the past performance sheet and put a line through the horse’s worst race. Unfortunately, for Mohaymen, it’s not just a regular race and he’s not just a regular horse, but a top Derby contender and he just did not run well. You can blame it on the weather, which went from complete downpours to sunshine in a blink of an eye, or the conditions of the track after the deluge of rain, or the alleged “bad trip” that Mohaymen had in this race going four-wide all the way, or the fact that for the first time he had a lot of mud kicked in his face. But … fourth? Mohaymen traditionally has a unique running style all of his own. He starts slow out of the gate but hits full stride in the turn for home. He just couldn’t get the traction for the burst of speed that he usually exhibits in the last few furlongs.
The West Coast is producing some of the best race horses in the business. For the 2016 Kentucky Derby, Nyquist will be representing the hopes of Southern Californians for another Derby winner. In the Florida Derby, on a less-then-perfect track, Nyquist was the only horse that galloped back without a speck of mud on him or the jockey’s silks. Nyquist hit the front of the field of 10 and never looked back. On the race track, this colt’s running style makes him look small, but only because he runs low. Nyquist has the heart of a champion and the heart of a contender. He may be small in running style but intimidating on the track. If he sees his competitor getting close, he lunges for the wire. Nyquist welcomes all challengers, and there will be plenty on the first Saturday in May.
A field of 20 enters the gates and sitting at the top of the list is a formidable foe for Nyquist by the name of Gun Runner. He’s legit.
The Derby will be a good betting race with the two favorites in Nyquist and Mohaymen taking all the money and will have ridiculous odds that no respectable horseplayer would bet, but it’s the exotic wagers that will pay on Derby day. Horses like Gun Runner, Zulu, Mor Spirit, Exaggerator and even the Florida Derby horses that finished between Nyquist and Mohaymen, Majesto and Fellowship, will be at huge prices. Fellowship finished third in the Florida Derby. He has raced with Mohaymen three times and all three races he finished third.
We are four weeks away from the Kentucky Derby. Both Nyquist and Mohaymen are heading to Churchill Downs. Nyquist will enter the gates as the undefeated colt, and the one to beat.
Huge Derby prep races are this weekend with the Santa Anita Derby, the Wood Memorial and the Blue Grass Stakes all on Saturday. There are 100 points on the line for the winner of all three of the prep races this weekend. (Canterbury’s Road to Kentucky Contest will use all 12 Santa Anita races plus the Blue Grass and Wood Memorial as additional bonus races).
The Todd Pletcher- trainee, Zulu, is sitting at Number 20 on the list, and finds himself in a desperate situation for points. If he wants to get in the Derby, it’s a “must-win” in the Blue Grass for Zulu. He’ll be contending with Uncle Mo offspring, Laoban, who is also looking for points.
We’ll see Shagaf, Outwork and Flexibility in the Wood Memorial. The 100 points would put the winner of the Wood in the Top 20. Mor Spirit, Danzing Candy and Exaggerator lock up in the Santa Anita Derby.
The time has come to start preparing for the Kentucky Derby wagers and winning tickets so here’s a list of the Top 20 after the Florida Derby, but the order will change after the three prep races this weekend.
Top 20 Derby Points Leaders :