Undefeated Nyquist drew post 13 and was tabbed the 3-1 morning-line favorite for the May 7 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) during the May 4 post position draw at Churchill Downs.
The Uncle Mo colt and champion 2-year-old male of 2015—owned by Reddam Racing, trained by Doug O’Neill, and to be ridden by regular jockey Mario Gutierrez—tops the 20-horse field, with Exaggerator (post 11) as the 8-1 second choice and Creator (post 3), Gun Runner (post 5), and Mohaymen (post 14) all 10-1 co-third choices.
“Breaking from 13 is fine,” O’Neill said. “He was No. 13 when he won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) at Keeneland. The post didn’t matter to us a ton, but we’re happy with the outside, for sure.”
“I’m fine with it,” Exaggerator’s trainer, Keith Desormeaux, said of the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) winner’s draw. “(Jockey) Kent (Desormeaux) seems a bit concerned, because he’ll have to wait some after they load, but I don’t see a problem. The horse is cool as a cucumber. It’ll be fine.”
Likely speed horses Danzing Candy and Outwork, who would be most impacted by a poor draw, will both be outside in post 20 and post 15, respectively.
Todd Pletcher, who trains Outwork and Tampa Bay Derby (gr. II) winner Destin (post 9), was most concerned with the latter’s proximity to the tempermental Japanese representative Lani (post 8).
“I thought we drew well with both horses,” Pletcher said. “I just hope Lani obeys himself in the paddock and the gate since Destin is right next to him.”
Mohaymen, who was undefeated until his fourth-place finish behind Nyquist in the Xpressbet.com Florida Derby (gr. I), is again outside his rival for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.
“We’re happy with it,” McLaughlin said. “The last spot in the main gate, with a little bit of space between 14 and 15. There are lot worse post positions.”
Maiden Trojan Nation drew the unenviable position on the rail, which statistically isn’t the worst position based on win percentage (9.3%), but hasn’t seen a winner since Ferdinand in 1986. As a closer, Trojan Nation figures to be unhampered by the rail. Steve Asmussen, trainer of fellow closer and Arkansas Derby (gr. I) winner Creator, was also unfazed by the inside draw.
“I don’t think post position matters much for him,” Asmussen said. “It’s probably better that he’s down there and not out on the far outside, where he could possibly get completely disinterested, but he’s pretty slow from the gate, so it’ll be easy to get to the rail from there.”
Asmussen also trains Gun Runner, and was content with his draw, as well.
“It doesn’t appear that there’s much pace near him, so hopefully he’ll have a nice, clean break and a good 150-200 unimpeded yards for (jockey) Florent Geroux to decide how much of him he wants to use,” Asmussen said.
For Toyota Blue Grass (gr. I) winner Brody’s Cause, drawing post 19 is less than ideal, but trainer Dale Romans said he was fine with his colt’s location.
“It’s not a problem with our running style,” Romans said. “You have a quarter-mile to the first turn. I would not have wanted to be down on the inside. We are going to be in the position we want to be in. The worst thing that could happen is we could be wide on the turn, but I think this field is going to spread out.”
Post 17, which will be occupied by Bob Baffert-trained Mor Spirit Saturday, has never had a winner in 37 starts.
“The last time I had the 17 post was with Point Given and Gary Stevens, and here we are again. … It’s funny the way all the speed is on the outside, so it’ll probably be two different races going on,” Baffert said.
O’Neill was similarly interested in how the race would play out with the speed seemingly concentrated in the outside half of the gate.
“The most interesting thing is Danzing Candy in the 20 hole,” O’Neill said. “Is he going to send hard and try to clear? If he does, that may affect his energy late. If he doesn’t send hard, is that going to make us make the lead? … I wouldn’t mind (the lead) at all. He’s shown versatility to win on the lead or off the pace, so we’ve got options.”
Ron Mitchell and Frank Angst contributed to this story.
|Kentucky Derby (gr. I) $2,000,000 Guaranteed|
|1||Trojan Nation||Aaron Gryder||Patrick Gallagher||50-1|
|2||Suddenbreakingnews||Luis Quinonez||Donnie Von Hemel||20-1|
|3||Creator||Ricardo Santana Jr.||Steven Asmussen||10-1|
|4||Mo Tom||Corey Lanerie||Tom Amoss||20-1|
|5||Gun Runner||Florent Geroux||Steven Asmussen||10-1|
|6||My Man Sam||Irad Ortiz Jr.||Chad Brown||20-1|
|7||Oscar Nominated||Julien Leparoux||Michael Maker||50-1|
|8||Lani||Yutaka Take||Mikio Matsunaga||30-1|
|9||Destin||Javier Castellano||Todd Pletcher||15-1|
|10||Whitmore||Victor Espinoza||Ron Moquett||20-1|
|11||Exaggerator||Kent Desormeaux||Keith Desormeaux||8-1|
|12||Tom’s Ready||Brian Hernandez Jr.||Dallas Stewart||30-1|
|13||Nyquist||Mario Gutierrez||Doug O’Neill||3-1|
|14||Mohaymen||Junior Alvarado||Kiaran McLaughlin||10-1|
|15||Outwork||Johnny Velazquez||Todd Pletcher||15-1|
|16||Shagaf||Joel Rosario||Chad Brown||20-1|
|17||Mor Spirit||Gary Stevens||Bob Baffert||12-1|
|18||Majesto||Emisael Jaramillo||Gustavo Delgado||30-1|
|19||Brody’s Cause||Luis Saez||Dale Romans||12-1|
|20||Danzing Candy||Mike Smith||Clifford Sise, Jr.||15-1|
|AE||Laoban||Cornelio Velasquez||Eric Guillot|
|AE||Cherry Wine||Robby Albarado||Dale Romans|