05/11/2016 3:12PM

On to Baltimore!


NYQUIST ran hard every step of the way en route to an extremely deserving Kentucky Derby victory.

The undefeated son of Uncle Mo broke sweetly under Mario Gutierrez and waited patiently for the expected pacesetter, DANZING CANDY, to clear from the outside. As in the Santa Anita Derby, Danzing Candy was a bit headstrong and he zipped through splits of 22.58, 45.72 and 1:10.40, enervating fractions for the 1 1/4-mile test, to be sure. Just in behind the pacesetter was Nyquist, right outside of Louisiana Derby hero GUN RUNNER. They bid for the lead after seven furlongs, went right by an exhausted Danzing Candy and kicked for home with Nyquist moving better while well off the rail. 

Gun Runner tried his heart out, but he couldn't step with Nyquist, and last year's 2-year-old champion was clear at the eighth pole while drifting to the inside. They weren't home free just yet, however, as EXAGGERATOR emerged from the back of the pack with a powerful late rally. Gutierrez implored Nyquist for just a little more inside the sixteenth pole and, despite hopping back to his left lead nearing the wire, had enough to withstand Exaggerator's burst. 

Nyquist completed the classic distance in 2:01.31, received a career-best 103 Beyer Speed Figure and remained strong on the gallop-out. "Like I say, if anybody watches Nyquist's races, you will see that he will not allow any other horse to pass him," Gutierrez told the press after the Derby. "He's always ‑‑ he's the kind of horse that always has something left for whatever comes to him late. So he was able to win by five lengths. He's been able to win by a nose. So that's how I get so much confidence from him. Because, if anybody comes late, I know he'll have something to respond to that."

It had to be a bittersweet moment for Keith Desormeaux, who must be sick of facing Nyquist. Not only did Desormeaux send Exaggerator out for the race of his life, only to finish behind Nyquist for the fourth time, but he is also the trainer of Breeders' Cup Juvenile runner-up Swipe, a talented runner that was no match for Nyquist on four occasions last year. In all, Desormeaux-trained horses have finished second in six of Nyquist's eight races. 

"I didn’t see where Nyquist was during the race until after it was over and he was there right there on the pace," Keith Desormeaux told track publicity following the Derby. "What a horse. I can’t respect that horse enough. Exaggerator had clear running room the entire one-quarter mile stretch. I thought for sure we would catch him. He did kind of level off the last sixteenth of a mile. Maybe he ran out of the training."

Although there were some traffic-filled trips behind the top three finishers, it's hard to imagine anyone beating the top two even with the cleanest of journeys. Mike Smith reported after the race that Danzing Candy was making noises as if he might have suffered from breathing issues. Danzing Candy was scoped after the race and was found to have "displaced a bit," according to trainer Clifford Sise, Jr.

Now, it's on to Baltimore for the second jewel of the Triple Crown, the Preakness. Nyquist, of course, will be favored. Exaggerator will take some money as well as will Gun Runner, if trainer Steve Asmussen decides to try again. Many folks, though, will jump on the STRADIVARI train. A son of Medaglia d'Oro conditioned by Todd Pletcher, Stradivari exits two blowout wins around two turns and escaped the rigors of the Run for the Roses. 

For now, we have some time to celebrate an undefeated Kentucky Derby winner, a horse with tremendous tactical speed and a strong will to win. It's a good time to be a racing fan.



I would appreciate it if you can shed some light on LANI's derby run in your next post. Do you think his connections will contemplate the idea of running him in the Belmont Stakes? and how do you see his chances if he does?...

I thought he ran the same race as the UAE Derby. Although he was pinched back at the start, I don't think that hurt him as the pace was unexpectedly fast. Lani probably had never dealt with a pace like this before and was outrun for the first six furlongs. Yutaka Take kept him clear of traffic with a five-wide bid on the turn and Lani's stamina allowed him to pass some tired horses while on his left lead in the stretch. There wasn't anything in that race that makes me think he can beat these horses right now.
I'd expect Lani to run in both the Preakness and Belmont. There's nothing for him in Japan in the summer and the Japanese are very curious to see how he'll fare against our best three-year-olds. Even if Lani is an also-ran in both races, expect to see Japanese owners buy more horses with American-pedigrees in the future and consider them for the Derby via the UAE Derby. 


First a question for Dan Illman...are you coming to Baltimore?...

It doesn't appear that way, Pat. I'll be in our studio on both Friday and Saturday. Have a great time and let us know your paddock observations if you get the chance. 


Here are the top 25 WINNING Beyer Speed Figures from 4/26/16 - 5/2/16:

1. ANCHOR DOWN - 105 - Westchester Stakes (G3) - 1 Mile - 7May16-4BEL
1. CATALINA RED - 105 - Churchill Downs Stakes (G2) - 7 Furlongs - 7May16-7CD
1. ROCKET HEAT - 105 - Twin Spires Turf Sprint (G3) - 5 Furlongs (Turf) - 6May16-8CD
4. DIVISIDERO - 103 - Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (G1) - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - 7May16-11CD
4. NYQUIST - 103 - Kentucky Derby (G1) - 1 1/4 Miles - 7May16-12CD 
4. PASSION FOR ACTION - 103 - Vigil Stakes (G3-C) - 7 Furlongs (Tapeta) - 7May16-8WO 
7. CHIEF LION - 102 - OC 32k/N3X -N - 6 Furlongs - 5May16-5PEN
7. MAJESTIC HARBOR - 102 - Alysheba Stakes (G2) - 1 1/16 Miles - 6May16-9CD 
7. TARIS - 102 - Humana Distaff Stakes (G1) - 7 Furlongs - 7May16-8CD  7F    
7. TEPIN - 102 - Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (G2) - 1 Mile (Turf) - 7May16-6CD 
7. UNBRIDLED JUAN - 102 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 1 1/16 Miles - 4May16-5BEL
12. CURALINA - 100 - La Troienne Stakes (G1) - 7 Furlongs - 6May16-6CD 
12. IRONICUS - 100 - Fort Marcy Stakes (G3) - 1 1/8 Miles (Turf) - 7May16-10BEL
12. JUBA - 100 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 7 Furlongs - 5May16-7BEL
15. COMMUTE - 99 - OC 62k/N2X -N - 7 Furlongs (Turf) - 8May16-5BEL
16. SECOND CITY - 98 - Clm c-50000 - 6 Furlongs - 4May16-3BEL
17. HOME RUN KITTEN - 97 - American Stakes - 1 Mile - 6May16-6SA 
17. JOKING - 97 - Diablo Stakes - 6 Furlongs - 8May16-8BEL
19. CACTUS KRIS - 96 - Hendrie Stakes (G3-C) - 6 1/2 Furlongs (Tapeta) - 8May16-8WO 
19. GREAT MINDS - 96 - Texas Mile (G3) - 1 Mile - 6May16-5LS 
19. NANCY FROM NAIROBI (GB) - 96 - Royal Heroine Stakes (G2) - 1 Mile (Turf) - 5May16-8SA 
22. CATHRYN SOPHIA - 95 - Kentucky Oaks - 1 1/8 Miles - 6May16-11CD 
22. SEA CALISI (FR) - 95 - Sheepshead Bay Stakes (G2) - 1 3/8 Miles (Turf) - 7May16-11BEL
22. SHARP AZTECA - 95 - Pat Day Mile (G3) - 1 Mile - 7May16-10CD 
25. ROCKET FUEL - 94 - OC 20k/N1X -N - 6 Furlongs - 5May16-7SA 

*The lifetime past performances for ANCHOR DOWN, CATALINA RED and ROCKET HEAT are available at the bottom of this blog post.

*SECOND CITY was claimed for $50,000 by trainer Patrick Reynolds from Chris Englehart.


Video stakes analyses for many of the weekend's major stakes will be available later this week at http://www.drf.com/videos

You can follow me on Twitter @DRF_DanIllman.

Matt Bernier and I will be on for free and fun live handicapping analysis at live.drf.com at 4pm ET this Saturday on live.drf.com. 


Congrats to Rick for winning last week's HandiGambling challenge.

Rick M and SR VEGAS' HG scoreboard spreadsheet is available at the bottom of this blog post. 

Let's go with the Man o'War  from Belmont for this week's exercise. 


SR Vegas and Rick M. have graciously decided to update all of the HG rules in order to make them an easier read for everyone...

HANDIGAMBLING version 2016:

Let's remember WHY we began the HandiGambling races in the first place.
The goal was to share ideas on why we like these horses and why we're betting them the way we are. We are not asking for a novel but SPARE A SENTENCE OR TWO outlining your HANDICAPPING ANGLES and/or THOUGHT PROCESSES about WAGERING.

1. Start your post with HG or HANDIGAMBLING to find your entry in a thread.
2. You have a mythical $100 to wager in whatever format you choose that is available for that HG race. Anyone going over the $100 limit will be DISQUALIFIED.
3. Post your WAGER and ANALYSIS to the blog prior to the start of the designated race. SIGN OFF WITH YOUR NAME/OR MONIKER AT THE END OF YOUR POST. Remember that posts may start as 'anonymous' or an 'alternate name'. You MUST SIGN YOURSELF AT THE END (even if it is the same) This enables the scorekeeper to identify who you are.
4. (1) ONE ENTRY per person for the Handigambling contest. If you have multiple email addresses, use just ONE for contest purposes. Multiple entries will be cause for disqualification.
5. Separate your analysis from the wager and use the PROGRAM # in your wager. Just like you would do in a real wager. No horse names.
6. If any of the rules listed above aren't met, the wager is subject to review which can lead to disqualification of your entry.

In the event of a tie, the earliest post gets first preference. Dan reserves the right to approve or deny any entries.
The winner will receive a "60-Card Quarterly Formulator Past Performance Plan"

As an example :

HG 2016
The speed in this race are #1 Alpha, #2 Beta, and #8 Ocho. I like the works for layoff horse #5 Cinco who can sit off the pace. Lots of speed in here, so this could set up for a closer like  #6 Six Flags and I like the trainer's stats in these conditions. I’ll put the closer over the speed.

HG wager:
$10 EX   6 /   1,2,5, 8  = $40
$5 TRI   6 /   1,2,5,8  /  1,2,5,8  =  $60
Total $100
Thanks Dan!


He had clear running room the entire one-quarter mile stretch. I thought for sure we would catch him. He did kind of level off the last sixteenth of a mile. Maybe he ran out of the training. 

HGMANOWAR.pdf184.65 KB
Copy of HG 5 7 16 Kentuck Derby.xls53.5 KB
God Bless Longshots More than 1 year ago
Special acknowledgment to Pat Gavin, if I remember correctly, who predicted weeks before the KD that Exaggerator would win the Preakness. I tend to believe it was right after the SA Derby.


pat More than 1 year ago

A couple at the live meeting at Pimlico on a dreary Thursday.

1st race

Looks like it comes down to 2 horses, Articulate and Duchess of Wicklow...but watch out for the old campaigner Spunky Cat at a MONSTER price to crack the exacta.

7th race

The Boniface family loves Pimlico......not the operation they used to be...but they strike at weird times. Watch out for Ingrained.

pat More than 1 year ago


The problem with Delaware is this. THE track surface is BAD and always has been. Hard as a rock and many MD trainers are reluctant to ship there(even though it is really close,70 miles). I would assume that due to the lack of any kid of shade, it just gets baked and baked(and the track is not in Colorado). Sad, because the periphery's of the place are gorgeous. It has the best paddock of any track I've been to(63 so far). The picnic area is immense and spectacular. The turf

 course is also known to be hard and not that great. I was there about 4 years ago and the difference in how the TURF is maintained is night and day from MD. After a turf race in Maryland..about ten guys walk the entire course with implements to replace, repair and water the divots. At Delaware I saw 4 guys, kicking the divots with their boots. I am good friends with a guy that caddies on the Senior Tour, he once told me that IF a caddy gives a bad rake job in the bunker and it costs somebody a shot in competition...the offended caddy will BEAT UP the offender. To me, Delaware is not run as a racing facility.....the casino is huge and as usual the racing is an after thought. And it is a pleasure to hear an owner speak the truth.....sure is easier to beat 4 horses than 9.....and finishing 3rd will pay a lot of bills.....one of the more under rated ideas at the track. Trainers LOVE winning, but they are also partial to having horses who earn their keep(and keep the owners with SOME DOUGH). I like the honesty.  Parx is the king of the 5/6 horse fields...and as bettors those races stink...yet for owners......

@ Slew

Pickwick Rd....there are only about 5 roads in the community(I will be driving by there today on the way to PIMLICO). Great community STILL and is so hidden and off the beaten path...no one knows how to get there...except old short cut taking salesman..like me.   AS far as Pimlico is playing....first weekend it appears that the inside is "not great". I will see my trainer friend....and he knows. He gets on horses(made his bones as an exercise rider) and is so attuned to everything....his instructions to jockeys is pretty simple...either stay near the rail or avoid it. I once saw him get into the face of a jockeys agent and tell him...'your boy better do what I say as far as positioning".  I would add this about the rain.....the track drains towards the grandstand. No one standing near the rail will see anything but standing water in the water collectors near the outside rail and the outside the apron...in fact it is gross. 

The Turf course may get abused ...but as of 10:15 they are OFF TURF TODAY. I think that they are saving it for FRI/SAT....a short meet means ABUSE.

I have been building an ARK.....it has rained here for many many days. I mow 2 and 1/2 acres....and when the sun shines for 2 hours it appears that it grows two inches. The Cheap Irishman "curse" strikes again. I refuse to pay another person to do something that I can do. I strategize it and can do it in less than 3 hours....I use my pedometer.....and 16,000 steps is about the average. If I walk more than that I have to rethink my game plan. Good exercise for me(I don't get enough).

Anonymous More than 1 year ago

SR Vegas,

Thanks for making me spill my coffee. LOL!! Making up an "And then the fight started...with Alotta Skirt, was hilarious. I'm still giggling. :)


slewofdamascus More than 1 year ago
I'm going to make this short and sweet. I apologize to the blog for overreacting to a smoldering situation. I hope the other party will continue posting here. I can't control or take responsibility for another person's choices, however. How about a chinese wall? It's pointless and counter-productive to rehash the unpleasantries, the record is there, but I should have handled the situation differently.  I will be more circumspect in the future. I regret how things unfolded. This will always be racing's best blog. And that's because of all of you (not me).  
DavidM9999 More than 1 year ago


I have been to Delaware Park. I found it a very nice place to spend a day. I agree the racing quality has fallen along with purses for that matter.  I wish our horses were not there frankly. On the positive side it is weaker competition than NY and short fields. 10%-20% of $30,000 is better than 0% of $80,000 at BEL. Maybe we beat a couple in a five horse field then can halfway cover expenses.

CDI ejects trainer Otabek Umarov. Mr. Sajak can I buy another vowel? One down but many more still to go. I have no idea why he was ejected.It could range from repeatedly parking in John Asher’s prized parking slot or blatant doping. No specific reasons were given but KY Chief Seward Borden says this happens fairly often. Really? I need to ease off the Ambien.  Umarov apparently is best known for taking a cheap claimer then running lights out as moon shots in big races. Sound familiar? John Aviello at Wynn’s has posted it at 2/5 that Umarov has horses at PARX next week. Can’t wait to punch a trifecta Preciado over Navarro over Umarov. Rolls right off the tongue doesn't it.

I see some nice supersized fields Saturday at PIM. I would like to start handicapping the turf races but how many stay on if the rain comes. I cannot bet off the turf races once I handicap them for grass. I just can’t hit the reset button that easy. In my world the turf opinions have almost zero carryover to the dirt. Some bettors just play the MTO’s. Maybe I should too…cue up a 15-16-14-13 superfecta.

A second time starter in a MSW won at a number Sunday called Mongolian Prince. It was a Pletcher at 16-1. When Todd wins at that price you always say what was I thinking. I know full well what I was thinking. I liked a couple others (Manitoulin and Sport) much better.  It is now reported the horse had actually won three out of five "races" in China but it was not shown the DRF performances. Sure it would have been nice if someone in the free world outside Todd’s barn and the BEL racing office had known or shared this. It does amaze me that NO ONE in the biz I heard knew it or reported it. How about that crack research department at TVG. How did they miss this one? Probably spent a tad too much time on their pick 4 construction. I have no sour grapes here as I likely would not have respected Orient Lucky City form even if I knew.Sha Tin form YES,YES,YES, OLC/Beijing not so much. I am happy some smart bettors got the 16-1 shot home. Please don't spread this but I have some folks scouring the Pacific Rim countries currently looking for an undefeated filly I can enter at DEL in a MSW with a 0-79 apprentice riding so I can get home a score. Neither Todd or Otabek Umarov will be training. 

SR Vegas More than 1 year ago
Hi Ho On to Pimlico! In addition to Annie's Preakness entrants,here's who I saw on the undercard :

Pimlico race # 6  100K  James Murphy Stakes  1M turf

Pimlico race #11  100K Sir Barton  1 1/16 M

and from the 2015 MKB crop:
Pimlico race #12    250K Dixie Stakes 1 1/16M
EL KABIER -  Yuwipi

Good luck !

SR Vegas
SR Vegas More than 1 year ago
Little Deb
You are so kind to add a "Class" designation to my SR. I'll continue to try to do my best.
Dan's formblog is so unique, I'm glad you found it.   In HG I see you favor a superfecta, so I watch the wagering structure that you, Annie,  and several others use, and how everyone applies it.
Yes, Me ...who can hardly get an exacta box correct ..lol!  watches how others' structure their bets.

 I had to laugh  at your  "And then the fight started " posts. It made me think of our own formblog family here. When there are very enthusiastic opinions differing from others, I'd like to say , in a lighthearted way to use the term ..."and then the Fight started" ... prose.

so recently we could say  in short :

I looked up "Alotta Skirt" and really liked what I saw...vs  "Alotta Skirt" has nothing under that skirt.
..."And then the Fight started" ... lol.

ok,  I regress...   Everyone here is imparting the best they know about handicapping and racing knowledge . ( Thank you very much Dan Our Man !)   and I  hope that when we choose to use it , and we throw it on the wall it will stick. Then we all win.

SR Vegas
Anonymous More than 1 year ago

Well, it's a good thing the Baltimore Sun streamed the draw. Must have been a glitch at DRF.

3 - JIM LEHMAN'S Nyquist 3-5 Favorite

5 - RON Z (AOS)'S Exaggerator 3-1

11 - DAN ILLMAN'S Stradivari 8-1

7 -SWEDE'S Collected 10-1

1 - PAT GAVIN'S Cherry Wine 20-1

2 - BROTHER TOM'S Uncle Lino 20-1

10 - DOMINIC'S Fellowship 30-1

The four non-MKBs are all at 30-1.

I'm looking for another MKB Superfecta!!!



I see you got KNOW IT ALL ANNA anyway, but at least you got the Pick 4, 10 times. Congratulations!



Well, that is very nice of you to say. You're pretty nice, yourself! I promise to let you know if I ever run for public office; but that is as unlikely as a non-MKB winning this Preakness. :) Good luck in your wagers.


slewofdamascus More than 1 year ago
ProfessorM, I don't care for wet track Classic races, so I won't be wagering into those giant pools, sadly. We'll see what happens with Stradivari. I am a buyer of that stock. I gotta trust the eyes. Should be a very exciting race. I can't wait to see it unfold as a spectator, which is unusual. 
Yeah, I love Maggie Wolfendale. She's an excersize rider, also. A very active life. I admire that. 

Vicstu, Big Brown! I have to agree with you. He faced a lot of negative publicity because of who trained him. I had actually forgotten how good he was. And that's not right. It's just too bad what happened at B-S. I watched his KD - it stands alone. As far as Quist goes, I gotta say I was against him pre-derby because of the low figs. But his credentials were clearly as good as any. And the form held up. He won me over in the KD. I totally respect him. Your take on the TCI videos, btw, hilarious. The track on derby day was definitely playing fast, time-wise. I've changed my opinion on the speed bias because the charts really don't support it. When there's a bias one way or the other, S or C, it shows up in the charts. And it's obvious. The derby full-day charts do not support a speed bias. The best horses were there or thereabouts depending on trips and luck and trouble. The KD is still about stamina. I've never thought a dry track can carry a horse to a win in the mile and a quarter KD. 3rd, maybe, but not a win (generally speaking, I'm not referring to gun runner). An off track is a different story, imo. Go For Gin is probably a good example of an off track producing a different result. Of course, that's conjecture, too. I'm a little biased on that race, as I picked him off his off track record the night before sitting in a bar in SF's italian district. One of my favorite derbies.