Prior to the Run of the Roses, Nyquist seemed to have been underestimated by Kentucky Derby betting odds-makers. It is truly a testament to the impact that last year’s winner and eventual Triple Crown Champion American Pharoah had, when an unbeaten and heavily favored horse has to play second fiddle to another horse that’s already retired. However, Nyquist proved the neigh-sayers wrong (get it? Neigh-sayers. That’s gold, Jerry! Gold! ) by winning the Derby by 1 1⁄4 lengths, becoming the eighth undefeated winner in history and the first since Big Brown in 2008.
Danzig Candy came out swinging and quickly took the lead and held onto it for seven furlongs until he faded – presumably because someone traveled back in time and prevented his parents from meeting. Nyquist broke well and stayed close to the leaders, no farther back than third through the race. At the top of the stretch, Gun Runner, who had been gun running second or third briefly took the lead but was quickly overcome by Nyquist. Exaggerator, who had started well back in 15th place closed fast at the end, but Nyquist held him off to win the race.
Nyquist’s chances of winning Preakness look even better than his Kentucky Derby betting odds. For one thing, he will face a weaker field than he did at Churchill Downs. Nyquist will arrive in Baltimore on Monday afternoon as a horse betting favorite for the Preakness on May 21. There, he is likely to go once again head to head with Derby runner-up Exaggerator. Exaggerator’s trainer Keith Desormeaux said he would like another shot at Nyquist, but that’s sheer masochism at this point – Exaggerator is the Washington Nationals to Nyquist’s Harlem Globetrotters. But regardless of who else participates in the race, it would take something really crazy to keep Nyquist from winning – such as Bill Brasky throwing a saddle on my back and riding me around Wyoming for three days until my stamina increases with each day and I develop tremendous leg muscles. Then, Brasky decides to enter me in the Preakness, under the name Turkish Delight.
As Nyquist’s trainer’s senior assistant Leandro Mora pointed out, this horse has a trick or two up his sleeve. For example, he has enough early speed to go to the front if that’s what jockey Mario Gutierrez wants him to do, but he’s also cooperative enough to relax if the pace is too quick. That versatility is essential in both the Preakness and the Belmont and gives him a huge tactical advantage over a horse like the aforementioned Exaggerator, who is going to make one big late run. All things considered, this could be the first time there back-to-back Triple Crown Winners since 1977-78.