05/11/2016 2:12PM

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