Nyquist Wants to Continue Recent Run of Favorites

Nyquist Wants to Continue Recent Run of Favorites

Category : News - Fri 06/05/2016 - 11:27 EDT

It took a long time for a favorite to win the Kentucky Derby, but recently it has become the norm.

In the 20-year period between 1979 and 1999, only one favorite in the Kentucky Derby when the gate opened managed to get to the finish line first, and that was Spectacular Bid in '79, making a 19-year break before another favorite won. There are always a number of factors that go into this lack of success, primarily that the three-year-olds that run in the Derby are racing 1 1/4 miles for the first time, and they are facing a larger field of horses than ever before. For relatively inexperienced runners, these are big factors.

Favorites have come through over the past few years

Recently, things have changed, and in fact the past three winners of the Derby, American Pharoah, California Chrome, and Orb were all favored when the Churchill Downs gate opened. Throw in Big Brown (2008) and Street Sense (2007) and that makes five of the last nine winners as the post time favorite. One reason for this change simply comes down to preperation. More so than in the past, trainers of the recent generation spend a lot of time plotting the route their runners will take to get ready for the first Saturday in May at Churchill, and the top runners are in top condition to make their best run.

On paper, Nyquist is clearly the one to beat

So the question is whether Nyquist, the current morning line favorite at 3-1, will be able to continue the trend, or whether handicappers should be looking to beat him. On form, there's not a lot of reason to doubt. He's the Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner, and so the de facto best horse of his crop. He's undefeated in 7 lifetime starts, and his last prep was excellent, when he shipped across the country from California to win the Florida Derby going away, defeating several others that will be in the Kentucky Derby field. He's drawn a decent gate position (#13), and should get a good trip. The only question is whether he will be able to get the 1 1/4 mile distance, given the general lack of stamina in his pedigree. On balance, however, he appears to have a good shot at continuing the parade of Derby favorites to show up in the winner's circle. 

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