Prep Season Over: Will Any Rival Beat Nyquist?
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., April 17, 2016—The Kentucky Derby prep season is over, 24 glorious or humiliating results depending on which end of the wickets you landed.
And what have we learned from the Jerome to the Arkansas Derby and back again? That juvenile champion Nyquist remains atop his generation.
The presumption now is that, horrible post draw notwithstanding, Nyquist looks like a 2-1 favorite when the gates fly open for the feature race on May’s first Saturday at Churchill Downs.
Many colts have had their 15 minutes at center stage, the brightest light cast upon the formerly undefeated Mohaymen.
A popular racetrack axiom is it’s not how fast your run but how you run fast. But his first lifetime defeat was a mystery tour, and there was nothing magical about it.
But what happened to Greenpointcrusader, whose Derby hopes were promising with his first rate placing to Mohaymen only to see those Derby dreams left behind in New Orleans?
Then there's Saturday’s Lexington winner Collected, who bookended the season with a score in the January 9 Sham and whose 20 Derby points fall short of Derby entry but owns form plenty good enough for Baltimore.
Who knows what Cupid’s Arkansas Derby performance means? A trip to Louisville, or stablemate for Collected in the Preakness barn? Stay tuned.
A couple of other 10 point winners; Mo Tom and Mor Spirit, have had their issues on the Derby road:
Nothing but traffic for Mo Tom and a perch on the bubble with 32 points. At #21, he’s going to need a defection. Mor Spirit is in like a porch climber but his sloppy track Santa Anita Derby placing was not all his connections wanted it to be. It was a good effort but was it good enough?
Outwork is ranked 4th with 120 Derby qualifying points but final furlongs in 14 seconds won’t win a blanket a roses. Danzing Candy is brilliant but then he was exposed as one-dimensional. Shagaf was undefeated, then he wasn't. Top connections are soldiering on.
Oscar Nominated is stoutly bred and can finish but at this point reminds no one of Animal Kingdom except that they both won at Turfway Park. Lani, by way of Dubai, is the stoutest bred of all but would have to make history three weeks hence.
Gun Runner, the Derby point leader with 151, 21 more than the undefeated champ, also needs a precedent-setting victory. Destin ran so fast from a performance figure perspective that Todd Pletcher wouldn't dare run him again before the big day--and his layoff is longer than Gun Runner’s.
Suddenbreakingnews can finish like a rocket ship and has proven he can finish first, but his move vs. 19 rivals had better be timed pluperfectly.
Whitmore is talented and was trip-compromised on Saturday. He’s in with 44 points but can he finish first at this level?
My Man Sam and Tom’s Ready; same question as above, and the same goes for late developing Majesto. And here’s two more queries:
Is Exaggerator as good as he looked in the Santa Anita Derby on a dry track? Can Brody’s Cause, a Churchill maiden breaker, perform at the same highest level away from Keeneland?
Does dosage still matter? Many believe it’s still worth examining in a Kentucky Derby context. The faithful will put a line through Outwork (11.00) and Suddenbreakingnews (4.20).
Major three-year-olds with the best Dosage aptitude for distance racing are Mor Spirit (1.57), Mo Tom (1.55), Brody’s Cause (1.38), Destin (1.43), Gun Runner (1.25) and Lani (1.92).
As mentioned above, Lani is the stoutest bred despite the fact that five other rivals listed above are have lower figures--the lower the number, the stouter the pedigree; above 4.00 is considered a speed-oriented disqualifier.
Lani is stoutest because, in our memory, no one has had such a powerful pedigree profile in the five categories, in order; the Speed, Intermediate, Classic, Solid and Professional wings of the pedigree, reading left to right: Speed is the fastest, Professional is stoutest.
Lani’s Dosage Profile is 7-9-18-3-1, according to HRI contributor Brad Morgan. We simply cannot recall representation in all five wings, including four points [3 + 1], on the stamina side of the pedigree. But recall that Dubai shippers are 0-for-Derby and, in fact, haven't come close to hitting the board.
Oh, nearly forgot: Champion Nyquist, like Outwork a son of Uncle Mo, owns a Dosage Index of 7.00 which is extremely speed oriented. His Profile of 1-2-1-0-0. yielding the sum of four, is the lowest we can ever recall.
Parenthetically, this is the sire’s first crop so the dosage jury may still be out. Should Nyquist win the Derby, like linear speed figures, his Index could be retrofitted to suit the outcome.
Much is made of the Kentucky Derby’s "mile and a quarter without any water." Rightly so. Then many roses runs are nine furlongs + one: Take the lead by the eighth pole and allow class to take you the rest of the way.
That very likely could be the case this year. Dosage qualified or not, Nyquist never has allowed a rival to run him down. So far, anyway.
The HRI Kentucky Derby Power 10, Week 8:
1. Nyquist (48) has resumed his old-school galloping regimen at Keeneland in good order. Let’s see how he adapts to Churchill but seems to act on any surface.
2. Gun Runner (31) as Steve Haskin, the best chronicler of three-year-olds since “Derby Doings,” reminds us, only two Louisiana Derby winners have doubled up in Kentucky and none following a six-week break.
3. Exaggerator (30) doesn’t have to prove that the slop is what made him freak in Arcadia, but he must show he can put that effort back-to-back.
4. Brody's Cause (29) has pedigree, a strong juvenile foundation Derby style and, as mentioned, broke his maiden at Churchill.
5. Destin (22) is another potential history maker. Either wins the Derby off a two-month break or becomes another sacrificial equine on the later of Derby history.
6. Creator (20) leapfrogged lots of talented sophomores with his comprehensive last-to-first Hot Springs score. He might love Oaklawn, or he might be getting good at just the right time.
7. Outwork (12) is ranked seventh here off his placing in Destin’s track record Tampa Derby and his courage to win the Wood in only his fourth lifetime start.
8. Mor Spirit (9) much was expected in the Santa Anita Derby, leaving Team Baffert/Stevens very disappointed. But it was a good, willing finish that sets him up well for the task.
9. Mohaymen (7) went from Derby buzz horse to Derby forgotten horse in a matter of nine sloppy furlongs. Was the effort a throw-out or portent of race to come?
10. Suddenbreakingnews (5) comes from the clouds with relentless late power and Arkansas Derby finish showed added furlong should pose no problem.
10. My Man Sam (5) came from far, far back in a gallant Blue Grass placing behind Brody’s Cause from extreme outside slip #14 and good effort behind talented speedster Matt King Coal previously. Price shot with a puncher’s chance.
10. Mo Tom (5) relentless finisher in any race he runs and prefers to run outside of horses according to his connections. So what’s the plan, through or around 19 rivals?
Written by John Pricci - Comments (7)