Friday, May 6, 2016

Kentucky Derby 2016

Churchhill Downs – May 7, 2016
Race 12 - 6:34 PM
Kentucky Derby (Grade I)
Purse - $2,000,000
Distance - One And One Quarter Miles
Surface - Dirt

1 –  Trojan Nation
2 – Suddenbreakingnews
3 – Creator                         
4 – Mo Tom                                                       
5 – Gun Runner
6 - My Man Sam
7 – Oscar Nominated
8 – Lani
9 –  Destin
10 – Whitmore
11 – Exaggerator
12 – Tom’s Ready
13 – Nyquist
14 – Mohaymen
15 – Outwork
16 – Shagaf
17 – Mor Spirit
18 – Majesto
19 – Brody’s Cause
20 – Danzig Candy
From what I’m seeing the 2016 Kentucky Derby is split into two groups – the first group believes that #13 Nyquist is a far superior horse to the rest of the field and this is “his” race to lose.

Why do haters gotta hate??
The second group might fall in the “haters gotta hate” group – that’s just looking for any way the heavy favorite could fail or because they’re hoping to make some money on a longshot.

Full disclosure (as a fan) I’m in the first group – Nyquist has been nothing short of amazing in his undefeated 7 race career. He’s won on four different tracks, in three different states.  He fearlessly was transferred to Florida to take on (perhaps) the second best horse in the nation #14 Mohaymen – on Mohaymen’s “home court” – defeating all in the Florida Derby.

Florida Derby:
(also featuring #14Mohaymen and  #18 Majesto)

Nyquist has all of the trademarks that make up a “GREAT” Kentucky Derby favorite – he possesses enough early speed that he can separate from a field of 12 to 19 horses and set his own early pace.

My “fear” for Nyquist is that while he has shown racing maturity he “could” fall for an early speed trap and burn himself out too early……but again, he’s shown maturity so far.

Nyquist also appears comfortable with longer distances and able to sustain enough endurance so that he doesn’t fade in the final furlongs.

In the Florida Derby you’ll notice he does go VERY wide in the final turn and he does waver in the final furlongs – which does indicate some fatigue – but, in my opinion, the undefeated Juvenile Champion looks like a fighter and I think once he hits the final stretch and builds two or three lengths on the other horses….it’s OVER.

However, for those looking for a surprise victory, there are a few interesting horses.

#3 Creator (currently going off at 10/1) is a story of Good News / Bad News – the Bad News is that this horse has only won 2 races out of 8 – however he won his last race The Arkansas Derby and Creator seems poised to be a bigger threat at longer distances – so additional good news is that this horse could be just getting into races he’s comfortable with.

As you watch the Arkansas Derby you’ll see that the Big Grey Colt likes to hang WAAAAAYYY back until he makes his final push…’s also interesting to see that both Creator and Suddenbreakingnews seem to be finding their stride late in the race......

Arkansas Derby:
(also featuring #2 Suddenbreakingnews & #10 Whitmore)

#5 Gun Runner – Winner of both the Louisiana Derby and Risen Star Stakes) has won 4 out of 5 career races.

*If Gun Runner can break from the gate well and take the rail – he could challenge Nyquist early – I think Gun Runner has a shot to land in the top three with some luck.

There’s also a chance that he could get swallowed in a swarm of horses and never have a chance to break out.

Louisiana Derby
(also featuring #4 Mo Tom & #12 Tom’s Ready)

#11 Exaggerator – was the winner of the Santa Anita Derby, and has 4 career victories in 9 attempts (one of his losses was against Nyquist in February). Exaggerator was sired by one of my favorites (Curlin) and he possesses a great late kick --- and I love that he’s comfortable in traffic – I don’t love him at 8/1 – I’d be more interested at 12/1 or higher.

Santa Anita Derby
(also featuring #17 Mor Spirit and #20 Danzig Candy)

 #15 Outwork has won 3 of his 4 career races – including the Wood Memorial --- his one loss was against #9 Destin in the Tampa Bay Derby.

I like Outwork but I think he received a tough luck post position – I believe he needed to be on the inside of Nyquist to have a solid shot and I don’t think this horse is going to be able to overtake Nyquist early or have a better late kick than some of the other horses – tough draw.

#9 Destin is a bit of a mystery – he hasn’t raced in 56 days – he’s won his last two stakes races – and I love his starting spot……but I HATE the long layoff and the fact that he hasn’t really competed against top talent. But a VERY intriguing longshot.

Wood Memorial
(also featuring #1 Trojan Nation and #16 Shagaf)

To round out the field –

Strangely Sensitive Cheetah
wonders why they didn't name
the horse Oscar Winner?
I mean....they had a choice.
#7 Oscar Nominated – has won his last two races (including the Spiral Stakes) and has won a total of 3 out of 7 career attempts.  I like his starting spot…..but he strikes me as a horse that’s just happy to be there – I believe he’ll be overwhelmed by the level of talent in this one.

#8 Lani – I’m always VERY interested when the UAE Derby winner comes out of the Middle East to race in the Kentucky Derby – This horse has won in Japan and the Dubai – it appears to me that this horse likes to run in the middle of the pack – and closes out very smoothly.  That being said – while this horse has a premium post position - he hasn’t raced in 42 days and he’s dealing with a very difficult traveling transition.  Full disclosure – I always think the UAE Derby winner will surprise….and the only one that’s surprised is me when they finish so poorly.

#19 Brody’s Cause – he’s another quality horse that will strike very late in a race. He has won 3 out of 6 career races and if he can find a lane coming out of the final turn, he could certainly be an upset contender --- but only if Nyquist is fatigued.

#6 My Man Sam – finished 2nd to Brody’s Cause in the recent Blue Grass Stakes – but My Man Sam was driving in the final furlongs.  He’s got only 1 victory in 4 attempts….but he looks like he likes the distance…..I don’t love him at 20/1…..but if he hits 30/1 or higher…..he’s interesting.

Here’s how I see the race breaking down

#1 Trojan Nation likely gets swallowed up in less than one full second from a collapsing dune of horses and is likely never heard from again – meanwhile on the opposite side #20 Danzig Candy will have to make a very difficult decision – either Danzig Candy will burst out and hit the pace at a suicide level in hopes of grabbing a top spot and somehow sustaining it……or come out of the gate weakly and look to find a spot in the top half of the pack – either way I think Danzig Candy will have a very difficult time making this post work for him.

I believe Brody’s Cause, Suddenbreakingnews, Exaggerator and Creator will ALL fall back to the back of the pack – Creator will likely be the furthest back….and Exaggerator may work his way closer to middle of the pack.

Gun Runner could get swallowed up early – but I think he could make the first turn and be the early leader – I suspect he’ll be joined by Nyquist, Mohaymen and Outwork. Destin could also be there.

If Nyquist is pushing an early quarter at 21 or 22 seconds he could be in trouble – however if Nyquist has a clear path in front of him and he’s running a 23.5 second quarter --- I think EVERYBODY else is in trouble.

Nyquist may have to fight off getting boxed in by the other horses – in what I consider poor sportsmanship – sometimes the other jockeys will try to box the favorite in…..doesn’t translate into their horses winning as much as it does the favorite losing.

Coming into the final turn I believe Outwork and Mohaymen will likely begin to fade…..they may have run 5 or 6 wide the entire race and it will have been too much to maintain. 

We’ll see if Gun Runner is able to challenge.

Midway in the final turn I suspect we’ll begin hearing that Brody’s Cause, My Man Sam, Suddenbreakingnews, Exaggerator  and Creator are making their late pushes….IF one of these horses can find an open lane close to the rail or the inside track of Nyquist – I think any of these horses have a shot at an upset over Nyquist.

However if a lane through that wall of horses doesn’t open up early enough or if the late closing horses are forced AROUND the wall of horses (i.e. to the far outside)  – and Nyquist has built up a lead and still has enough strength to finish – I suspect Nyquist will be on his way to the Winner’s Circle.

Closing Speed likes: Nyquist / Exaggerator / Brody's Cause

If I’m betting $38 on this race I like:

$1 Trifecta Box: 11,13, 19 = $6
$1 Exacta: 5,7,8,9 w 13 = $4
$1 Exacta: 13 w 5,7,8,9 = $4
(Or just $2 -  5,7,8,9 to win = $8)

$1 Exacta Box: 2,,3,11,13 = $24

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