A favorable post position and seven-race winning streak keep Nyquist atop of the 142nd Kentucky Derby field as a 3/1 morning-line favorite before Saturday’s Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs in Louisville.
The Uncle Mo 3-year-old colt’s odds didn’t improve after he drew the No. 13 post Wednesday, but they didn’t slip either. Nyquist, who has proven victorious at the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and the Florida Derby, is still ahead of the Derby pack with Mohaymen (+800) and Exaggerator (+750) his longstanding threats.
"The post draw didn't matter to us a ton, but we're happy being more toward the outside for sure," Nyquist trainer Doug O'Neill told reporters after the draw. "The whole team is pumped up. We're just very optimistic for a big day."
Nyquist did bolt out of No. 13 when he claimed the Breeders Cup Juvenile at Keeneland last year, and the post will allow jockey Mario Gutierrez space to work from the middle of the pack towards to the rail rather than getting stuck against it and sent to the bottom of the pack before the first turn.
Nyquist’s chances of winning the Derby are also bolstered by O’Neill and Guiterrez’s recent success at Churchill Downs. Back in 2012 that duo, along with owner J. Paul Reddam, won the Derby with 15-to-1 longshot I’ll Have Another and then won the Preakness Stakes a few weeks later.
Unlike Nyquist, Mohaymen and Exaggerator’s odds did change slightly after the post positions were announced. On Wednesday, Moyhamen was right behind Nyquist at +700 odds but he’s down a notch to +800 due to his No. 14 post right beside the betting favorite.
Trained by Kiaran P. McLaughlin with jockey Junior Alvarado aboard, Moyhaven was riding a five-race winning streak before finishing fourth in Florida and now he’ll have to fight off Nyquist right out of the gate. Of course, the same could be said for Nyquist.
Much emphasis is placed on post position as it relates to a good start out of the gates and how hard a horse and jockey must fight to find the rail, but Exaggerator jockey and three-time Derby winner Kent Desormeaux was quite unhappy with his contender’s No. 11 draw even though handicappers placed the son of Curlin as Nyquist’s biggest threat. The post means Exaggerator will have to wait longer in the gate before the start, which could agitate him.
“It sucks,” Desormeaux said. “But it’s like 100 years to the first turn. The only way you get in trouble is with a bad horse.”
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