A strong Kentucky Derby field has gathered for the 2016 edition. Nyquist will be the likely favorite with Exaggerator capturing a lot of support. With a full field of 20 horses I will focus on the top 12 contenders who have the best chance of winning or running 2nd. This year’s field is a quality group with a group of 8 horses in ability. Nyquist, Gun Runner and Moyhamen have a chance to move to the top of the class with a victory.
2016 Kentucky Derby Contenders
Nyquist has a perfect 7 for 7 record but only 2 starts in 2016 with one of them at 7 furlongs. Has been trained extremely light in the last month. Has a running style that puts him near the lead. He was sent to the lead in the Florida Derby and the San Vincente. He came off the pace in the Breeders Cup Juvenile because he had the 13th post position but even in that race he broke from the gate well and used speed while running wide. I think he has need to lead tendencies and that may be a weakness. Has never really been eyeballed since his maiden win. He needs to chase raw speed in Danzing Candy and has to face pressure from multiple horses and then hold off closers who have impressive races. The key to him winning the race is to relax off the speed and get first run on the mid pack runners. Talented but not over not overpowering.
Gun Runner is 4 for five lifetime and has the pedigree on both the sire and mare side to get the classic 10 furlong distance. The female family provides class and stamina. He Dominated the Louisiana Derby with a big move on the turn. Has never raced shorter than a mile and had a string of solid works since the last win. A steady string of 5 and 6 furlong works with 7 and 8 furlong gallop outs. Has a lot of energy in the mornings. Very fit now just needs to run faster. Not sure I trusty the speed figures on this horse. They seem slow every race but he passes the eye test watching the races and the he finished full of run in the gallop out in his maiden race. He did tire noticeably at Churchill in the Jockey Club race after making a perfect inside/Out move to to the lead. Strong contender with a shot at wearing roses. Post Position 5 should be solid with closers drawn inside of him.
Moyhamen is a good race horse who had a bad day in Florida last race. But a closer look reveals he ran (2) sub 24 fractions, he also had the top speed of 42 miles an hour in the Florida Derby. He may have ran inefficient. He was running on the outside so he had to expand more energy to stay in contact with the leaders. A bundle of energy in the mornings his works have been solid showing speed and running solid beyond the wired in the gallop out. This is a good horse and should sit a perfect trip coming from 6th to 7th place early and making a sustained run. Has the perfect stride, doesn’t waste any energy in his runs. Did come home fast with slow paces. He may be an off the pace horse disguised as a presser due to small fields. Gets a big field and can let other horses do the dirty work. Small frame, but raw speed. Mixed training signals in the morning. Draws next to Nyquist in Post 14 if he wants to show speed.
Danzing Candy had the most dominating win in the Kentucky Derby Prep races dominating the San Felipe with a tremendous burst of speed easily defeating Exaggerator and Mor Spirit in that Spot. Sent insane fractions in the Santa Anita Derby going 45 and change in the slop. Which is impossible to win. He still only finished 3 lengths behind more spirit despite the wicked fractions and being eased late. Raw talent and fast horse, loved the maiden win and his best race may been his debut race when he broke slow, rushed, went wide and then was eased late. The San Felipe was a dominating performance but he may have peaked a month too soon. Danzing Candy I feel is the key to the race. How well he runs may determine the ultimate winner of the race. But the raw talent is still enticing to possibly pick up a share of the pie. Post position 20 may not hurt as he is the speed of the speed and can break cleanly and be loaded late.
Shagaf dominated a maiden win last fall that was probably the 2nd best maiden win of the year behind Seymourdini. Won in hand in Gulfsteam in comeback race off only 4 workouts. Did not like the slop in the Wood Memorial. Big horses, carries some weight and won’t be intimidated. Has had 2 solid works at Churchill downs and seems to be thriving. Have to respect the training and race schedule and is very playable on tickets. Gulfsteam win was push button. Capable of running better than people expect and is usable on trifecta and superfecta tickes. Dominating maiden win last year in debut race and may have the most upside on Saturday.
Whitmore is another who may benefit from the jockey switch he won a 6 furlong race and has a win over the Churchill Downs surface. This horse has speed they just need to time his move to get the distance and finish in the top 3. Powerful sprint wins and has some dirtied up trips at Oaklawn a win contender and has more speed than the deep closers. Training on the muscle and has the speed, a well-timed ride puts him in the top 5 as they turn for home and Victor Espinoza in the Saddle for the first time.
Mor Spirit runs like a focused anteater in the mornings and the Aardvark running style is similar to A. P. Indy. Seems to have plateaued in speed figures and his best route race was facing distance challenged runners last fall. Should prefer the dry track with his big frame and carries a lot of body weight. He seems slow and not sure how he wins the race, his style is methodical and not much brilliance. Outside draw will cause ground loss.
Mo Tom has been the victim of some well bad trips but never stops running in any of his races. Has no speed and so will be at the back of the pack early and have to pass the field. He does start his run earlier than the other closers and should sit a good trip in this race getting first jump on the tiring speed. He has talent and keeps on running, very capable of being used on tickets, but 15/1 is fair odds anything lower is reaching a little.
Creator has improved dramatically. This long-fused runner took advantage of the pace set up last race, but started his run going into the turn and outfinished Whitmore and Suddenbreakingnews. Is a runner and maiden win was a break-out party. Has to string together another strong race on short rest, but running style may suit if the pace falls apart.
Exaggerator has run 9 times and his Santa Anita Derby race is the outlier he loved the slop that day but visually was tired at the end of the race making a sweeping move after the fractions wore out Danzing Candy. This horse clearly tired in the San Felipe and has run his best races on sloppy tracks. Not sure he wants any part of 10 furlongs and has not faced any adversity in last 2 races. Kent Desourmeaux has won 3 Kentucky Derby’s. He won’t be on my tickets and I’m not that bullish on his chances.
Brody’s Cause my Ipad tells me he’s slow, my eyes tell me he’s a turfer.
Majesto is a long striding son of Tiznow who is getting good at the right time has faced the best horses at Gulfstream and New York on multiple ocassions.
Destin is a full brother to Creative Cause and has become a new horse since adding blinkers at Tampa Bay. Dominated the Tampa Bay circuit running fast both times and galloping out with long and powerful strides for a trainer who never lets a horse gallop out. 8-week layoff is worrisome and has never run farther than 8.5 furlongs. Loved the workout with the classy Stradivari last week. Seems fit and has a perfect running style. Should sit 5-7th early and make a move.
Danzing Candy is the pace setter and he can take them a long way if allowed a 47 and change 4 furlong race and 1:11 for six furlongs. Gun Runner, Moyhamen, Shagaf and Outwork all figure to make their move at the six furlong mark. The best of the closers at the mile mark is Creator. Danzing Candy is the key to the race. Quality speed on the front end can soften up mid pack runners and possibly make Nyquist work a little harder than he wants to work early. The key to the closers may be which jockey chooses to go inside and save some ground several horses are equal in ability and they just taking turns getting better trips among Creator, Suddenbreakingnews, Exaggerator, Mor Spirit and Whitmore.
Moyhamen is the top selection this horse dominated the New York scene last fall and the Florida crew in February. He was wide and used his speed to make a half mile run on the outside into moderate fractions. I expect him to make a run from 8 or 9th place. His morning workouts have been a mixed bag of signals. He has energy but he has never trained with so much quirky behavior
Gun Runner is usable on all tickets. Has never been to the bottom of him this year. Had the lead in the Jockey Club race and tired. But that was on sloppy track and chasing the speed.
Danzing Candy had the most dominating win in a stakes race and should be fit coming off the huge fractions. Longshot with a chance.
Whitmore should get the pace and make his move going into the turn. Using him on all trifecta and superfecta tickets.
Shagaf has the pedigree to be a top horse, looks like a router, threw in a clunker in the slop. Training too well to ignore and did make a run in the Wood. Have to respect the work outs and the races and the breeding and use on some tickets.
Oaks/Derby Doubles: $40 Bankroll.
Taxable, Lewis Bay, Rachels’ Valentina, Royal Obsession, Terra Promessa
Moyhamen, Gun Runner, Whitmore, Shagaf