Some Derby afterthoughts before we move on to Baltimore and the Preakness…
How fast was the pace on Saturday? Out of the first seven horses at the second call (half-mile mark) here is where five of those horses finished: Danzing Candy -15th; Outwork – 14th; Whitmore – 19th; Tom’s Ready – 12th; and Shagaf – last.
It goes to show how amazing Nyquist’s sustained run was and the game effort put in by Gun Runner who was no worse than third for the 10 furlongs.
The last time they went that fast (22.58 and 45.72) was when Palace Malice put the blinkers on in 2013 taking off on Mike Smith to fractions of 22.37 and 45.33, setting the race up for closers Orb, Golden Soul and Revolutionary. Bodemeister went 22.32 and 45.39 in 2012 in I’ll Have Another’s late closing Derby win and stayed on for second, showing how talented he was.
How many horseplayers added Exaggerator to their wagers once the rain poured down 90 minutes to post?
In Baltimore next weekend, the versatile Nyquist will try and win for the ninth straight time, on his sixth track, in his fourth state.
Brody’s Cause was caught five-wide on the clubhouse turn, your basic Derby kiss-of-death, finishing seventh with a late run. It looks like he’ll skip the Preakness and point towards the Belmont where he should relish the mile-and-a-half. Stay tuned.
It was good to see Mohaymen put in a solid effort to complete the superfecta after his disappointing finish in the Florida Derby. That’s back-to-back fourth place finishes in the Derby for Kiaran McLaughlin (Frosted).
Steve Asmussen, recently inducted into the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame, continued his Derby futility, his record now stands at 15-0-1-2, the most starts for a trainer without a Derby victory.
It was the third “N” horse to win the Derby, the last being Northern Dancer in 1964.
Nyquist (2.30-1) was the shortest price winner since 2000, equaling Fusaichi Pegasus (2.30) and shortest price favorite since Point Given in 2001 (1.80). He was shorter than Big Brown (2.40), California Chrome (2.50) and American Pharoah (2.90). That’s hard to believe.
The son of Uncle Mo was the 27th Kentucky Derby starter to be undefeated coming into the race and became the eighth (first since Big Brown in 2008) to win.
Best post-race jockey quote goes to Yutaka Take, rider of ninth-place finisher Lani: “He needed more speed.” You don’t say?
Kent and Keith Desormeaux seemed to contradict each other from the moment the draw was complete until the post-race quotes. Keith like the post, Kent didn’t. Kent got in traffic, Keith didn’t see it. The beleaguered jockey’s history and behavior at the draw is one of the reasons I wasn’t buying in on Exaggerator, a horse that I listed in my top four in Degrees of Separation column and jumped on the Nyquist bandwagon.
The two also-eligibles for the Derby are both on the probable list for the Preakness. Dale Romans’-trained Cherry Wine and Eric Guillot’s speedball Laoban are both on the contender list for the middle jewel.
Land Over Sea, runner-up in the Kentucky Oaks, accompanied Nyquist to Pimlico and could be entered in the Black-Eyed Susan next Friday.
Last year’s Queen’s Plate winner Shaman Ghost has been nominated to the G3 Sagamore Pimlico Special on Black-Eyed Susan Day. That race could be littered by former horses on the classic trail such as Upstart, Samraat, International Star and El Kabeir.
First run in 1937, the historic Pimlico Special has played host to such racing stars as Whirlaway, Citation and Cigar and served as the setting for the 1938 match race won by Seabiscuit over 1937 Triple Crown champion War Admiral.
Other top horses we may see on the Preakness eve undercard include Untapable and I’m a Chatterbox (Dupont Distaff), 10-year-old Ben’s Cat (Jim McKay), and last year’s Schuylerville winner on Saratoga’s opening day, Off the Tracks (Miss Preakness).
The G2 Peter Pan, an annual prep for the Belmont Stakes, doesn't look all that exciting. Adventist, 22nd on the Derby qualifying points list is the biggest name in the field.
Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace.