It took 37 years for another horse to win the Triple Crown since Affirmed accomplished the feat in 1978, as American Pharoah swept through the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes last year. But are we in store for our second Triple Crown winner in a row?
(William Hill sports books in Nevada is offering +650 odds that it happens again this year.)
If any horse is up to the challenge, it figures to be Nyquist, the Doug O’Neill-trainee who enters Saturday’s Run for the Roses with a perfect seven wins in seven starts. Nyquist has been favored in four of his seven races, which do not include his most recent, the Florida Derby, where he left the top betting choice – the previously unbeaten Mohaymen – in his dust. Mohaymen finished fourth at Gulfstream Park that day.
Nyquist is listed at 3-to-1 odds in the Kentucky Derby morning line, a price that seems a bit generous for a colt that’s been this dominant. Count trainer Todd Pletcher, who sends Destin and Outwork to the Churchill Downs gate on Saturday, among those who isn’t sure Nyquist is getting the respect he deserves.
“Everyone has to be careful to call this a wide-open race,” Pletcher said, per the Daily Racing Form. “In fairness to Nyquist, he’s undefeated, taken his show on the road, and won at multiple distances. He deserves more respect and credit than he’s getting. Based on what I’ve seen, he’s still a little underrated.”
But Nyquist is not without his knocks.
His speed figures are not elite, and many handicappers question whether he can get the mile-and-a-quarter distance. His best Beyer speed figure around two turns is 94, very mediocre for a race at this level. Nine of the 19 horses he’ll be competing against have posted numbers at least that high in a two-turn race.
Still, he’s clearly the one to beat on Saturday, and our resident horse-racing handicapper Michael East puts him at the top of his Derby selections. Michael offers selections on the entire Friday and Saturday Churchill Downs cards, but here’s a peak at his Derby picks:
2016 Kentucky Derby picks
Win – Nyquist
Place – Gun Runner
Show – Mohaymen
Superfecta play- Exaggerator
And here’s the full field for the 142nd Run for the Roses (via Louisville Courier-Journal):
PP. Horse (weight) jockey/trainer odds
1. Trojan Nation (126) Gryder/Gallagher 50-1
2. Suddenbreakingnews (126) Quinonez/Von Hemel 20-1
3. Creator (126) Santana Jr./Asmussen 10-1
4. Mo Tom (126) Lanerie/Amoss 20-1
5. Gun Runner (126) Geroux/Asmussen 10-1
6. My Man Sam (126) Ortiz Jr./Brown 20-1
7. Oscar Nominated (126) Leparoux/Maker 50-1
8. Lani (126) Take/Matsunaga 30-1
9. Destin (126) Castellano/Pletcher 15-1
10. Whitmore (126) Espinoza/Moquett 20-1
11. Exaggerator (126) Desormeaux/Desormeaux 8-1
12. Tom’s Ready (126) Hernandez Jr./Stewart 30-1
13. Nyquist (126) Gutierrez/O’Neill 3-1
14. Mohaymen (126) Alvarado/McLaughlin 10-1
15. Outwork (126) Velazquez/Pletcher 15-1
16. Shagaf (126) Rosario/Brown 20-1
17. Mor Spirit (126) Stevens/Baffert 12-1
18. Majesto (126) Jaramillo/Delgado 30-1
19. Brody’s Cause (126) Saez/Romans 12-1
20. Danzing Candy (126) Smith/Sise 15-1
also eligible: Laoban (126) Velasquez/Guillot 50-1
also eligible: Cherry Wine (126) Albarado/Romans 30-1