03/30/2016 1:16PM

Mohaymen draws post 9 as even-money favorite for Florida Derby

Barbara D. Livingston
Mohaymen, shown winning the Fountain of Youth Stakes, will take on nine rival 3-year-olds Saturday in the Florida Derby.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – The lineup for Saturday’s $1 million Florida Derby surprisingly swelled to 10 3-year-olds when the race was drawn Wednesday, although the last-minute additions of Copingaway, Chovanes, and Isofass did little to change the overwhelming notion that the Grade 1 event remains strictly a two-horse race between the undefeated division leaders Mohaymen and Nyquist.

Mohaymen, established as the even-money favorite by Gulfstream Park linemaker Jay Stone, will break from post 9, while Nyquist, the reigning juvenile male champion, drew post 4 as the 6-5 second choice for the 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby. The field, in post-position order, consists of Sawyers Mickey (jockey Scott Spieth), Fellowship (Jose Lezcano), Majesto (Javier Castellano), Nyquist (Mario Gutierrez), Copingaway (John Castillo), Chovanes (Edgard Zayas), Takeittotheedge (Tyler Gaffalione), Fashionable Freddy (Nik Juarez), Mohaymen (Junior Alvarado), and Isofass (Julien Leparoux).

Nyquist, who arrived from the West Coast on Tuesday, visited the track and the starting gate during training hours here Wednesday.

“He’s doing well; he’s settled in nicely to Mark Hennig’s barn,” said trainer Doug O’Neill. “The gate crew spent good, quality time with him. Everything went perfectly the first day.”

O’Neill said he wasn’t too concerned about the post-position draw.

“I don’t think there’s really a bad post for him,” O’Neill said. “He’s got enough gate speed to get good position. Like all the others, you just have to leave there running.”

O’Neill said he also wasn’t surprised that the expected seven-horse field swelled to 10.

“When you offer a million dollars and they pay down to fifth or sixth place, whatever they do, and there is an opportunity to get Kentucky Derby points, I don’t blame some of the others for going in,” said O’Neill. “If this race was at my home track, I’d have probably put another one in myself.”

Trainer Dale Romans made no bones about his strategy with Takeittotheedge, who comes into the Florida Derby as the least-experienced member of the field, having won his only start by nearly eight lengths while going seven furlongs March 5.

“I have a horse with a lot of talent, a horse who won his only start on the lead with his ears pricked,” said Romans, who quietly applauded when Takeittotheedge drew post 7. “Speed is always dangerous, and he’ll be in front. I’d hate to have skipped this race, had him win an allowance race very impressively, and be wondering afterwards what might have been.”

Fellowship is a stakes winner and the only other multiple winner in the field aside from the two favorites. He finished third behind Mohaymen in both the Grade 2 Holy Bull and Grade 2 Fountain of Youth. The rest of the seemingly overmatched lineup have won just once apiece, other than Sawyers Mickey, who is stakes-placed but enters the prestigious Florida Derby still a maiden after seven starts.

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saratogajunkie More than 1 year ago

I felt sure that Nyquist would go all out for this ( with a million dollar incentive) and Mohaymen would not fully extend himself...until I read this. Now a "rabbit" is in to push Nyquist....Hmmm sounds like a little East/West thing.

I don't know...bigger prizes are on the horizon.

Mark Scheider More than 1 year ago
I hate to break it but Nyquist was never winning the Derby whether he started this race or not.  He's going to fold up.  Once that happens, he's sunk.  
William Farinholt More than 1 year ago
Beholder is starting her 2016 season April 8, 2016  in the Santa Lucia Stakes. She will win. And continue to win with the very capable Gary Stevens in the saddle. She will finish her season winning the Breeders Cup against the boys no matter who shows up against her.
William Farinholt More than 1 year ago
Nyquist is the best horse in the Florida Derby.  I expect him to go to the lead and say to the other horses catch me if you can.  They will not be able to.  Mohaymen will try his best to catch him but will come up short.
William Farinholt More than 1 year ago
Nyquist is the best horse in the field. I expect him to go to the lead and say to the other horses catch me if you can.  They will not  be able to.  Mohaymen will try his best but will come up short.
Ian GW More than 1 year ago
Lot of the undercard fields came up with small fields. I guess it's good for a win bet player. Be good to watch them though. Good competition fun races to watch. Money may go towards some of the Turfway and Oak races,Seems to offer the best value for the dollar. 
slimshadyjd69 More than 1 year ago
Mark More than 1 year ago
Im very proud of you.
Moe More than 1 year ago
Go Nyquist!
alex More than 1 year ago
This is a true epic showdown, the winner of this "clash of the titans" will surely roll into Churchill Downs as the prohibite favorite 
Mark More than 1 year ago
And Id be lying if I told you I couldn't wait to bet against both on Derby day.