fb-pixel Skip to main content

Handicapping the 2016 Kentucky Derby

Derby favorite Nyquist, under Jonny Garcia, galloped at Churchill Downs Tuesday.
Derby favorite Nyquist, under Jonny Garcia, galloped at Churchill Downs Tuesday.garry jones/AP

Nyquist, the Kentucky Derby favorite, fared well in the random draw of post positions Wednesday. Undefeated in seven races, Nyquist will break from the No. 13 post position, which should allow jockey Mario Gutierrez to survey the situation inside and outside before deciding his strategy after the break.

The early front-runner is expected to be Danzing Candy, who will break from the extreme outside, post position No. 20. The most undesirable post, No. 1, fell to 50-1 long shot Trojan Nation.

Here is a look at the full field (in post position order) for the 142d Kentucky Derby, for 3-year-olds, to be run at 1¼ miles at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., Saturday. Post time is 6:34 p.m.


1. Trojan Nation

Odds: 50-1

Jockey/trainer: Aaron Gryder/Patrick Gallaher

Comment: He has never won a race but was a fast-closing second in the Wood Memorial at 81-1. The last winless horse to win the Derby was Brokers Tip in 1933.

2. Suddenbreakingnews

Odds: 20-1

Jockey/trainer: Luis Quinonez/Donnie K. Van Hemel

Comment: He’ll be far back early, and if the front-runners are going too fast, he’ll be rallying in the stretch. Doesn’t seem fast enough based on speed figures.

3. Creator

Odds: 10-1

Jockey/trainer: Ricardo Santana/Steve Asmussen

Comment: He will be last going into the first turn, so the early pace will probably dictate how much he can move up. His Arkansas Derby victory was impressive.

4. Mo Tom

Odds: 20-1

Jockey/trainer: Corey Lanerie/Thomas Amoss

Comment: The trainer brags that his horse has great potential; he has been bet heavily but keeps finding traffic problems when he rallies. It’s bound to happen again in the congested Derby.

5. Gun Runner

Odds: 10-1

Jockey/trainer: Florent Geroux/Steve Asmussen

Comment: Has won four of five lifetime, including a romp in the Louisiana Derby, but his speed figure was slow.

6. My Man Sam

Odds: 20-1

Jockey/trainer: Julien Leparoux/Chad Brown

Comment: He’s raced only four times, with one victory, but had an eye-catching rally to finish second in the Blue Grass.


7. Oscar Nominated

Odds: 50-1

Jockey/trainer: Robby Albarado/Michael Maker

Comment: He has a terrific record on the grass. His only non-grass race was a victory in the Spiral Stakes on a synthetic track.

8. Lani

Odds: 30-1

Jockey/trainer: Yutaka Take/Mikio Matsunaga

Comment: Owned, trained, and ridden by Japanese connections, he’s never raced in the US and has trained erratically.

9. Destin

Odds: 15-1

Jockey/trainer: Javier Castellano/Todd Pletcher

Comment: He hasn’t raced since March 12, when he won the Tampa Bay Derby, and has never run farther than 1 1/16 miles. But he has a great trainer-jockey combo.

10. Whitmore

Odds: 20-1

Jockey/trainer: Victor Espinoza/Ron Moquett

Comment: Another horse that needs a fast pace; there might be some horses behind him in the first half-mile, but not many. Might be good to use on the tail end of trifectas and superfectas.

11. Exaggerator

Odds: 8-1

Jockey/trainer: Kent Desormeaux/Keith Desormeaux

Comment: He has the best speed figure off his win in the Santa Anita Derby but he benefitted from a fast pace. He’ll be running late and has finished behind Nyquist three times.

12. Tom’s Ready

Odds: 30-1

Jockey/trainer: Brian Hernandez/Dallas Stewart

Comment: He has won only race, but his trainer has a habit of hitting the board with long-priced horses.

13. Nyquist

Odds: 3-1

Jockey/trainer: Mario Gutierrez/Doug O’Neill

Comment: Undefeated in seven races, the 2-year-old champion had a visually impressive victory in the Florida Derby but the speed figure was ordinary. His sire, Uncle Mo, did not run any long distances, and whether his offspring can is unknown.


14. Mohaymen

Odds: 10-1

Jockey/trainer: Junior Alvarado/Kiaran McLaughlin

Comment: He looked like a potential favorite until he surrendered to Nyquist in the Florida Derby. He’d have to reverse form. His workouts have been quick but his behavior has been erratic.

15. Outwork

Odds: 15-1

Jockey/trainer: John Velazquez/Todd Pletcher

Comment: Has three wins and a second in four starts. Had a gritty victory in the Wood Memorial but a maiden was only a head behind. Great trainer-jockey combination.

16. Shagaf

Odds: 20-1

Jockey/trainer: Irad Ortiz/Chad Brown

Comment: He failed miserably as the favorite in the Wood Memorial but won his other three races.

17. Mor Spirit

Odds: 12-1

Jockey/trainer: Gary Stevens/Bob Baffert

Comment: Baffert is the trainer, so that makes him dangerous. Has never been worse than second in seven races.

18. Majesto

Odds: 30-1

Jockey/trainer: Emisael Jaramillo/Gustavo Delgado

Comment: Only 1 for 6 lifetime, but his second-place finish in the Florida Derby shows he has potential. Would be good to use in trifectas and superfectas.

19. Brody’s Cause

Odds: 12-1

Jockey/trainer: Luis Saez/Dale Romans

Comment: He won his first race at Churchill Downs but doesn’t seem fast enough. He’ll get the distance but he lacks winning acceleration.

20. Danzing Candy

Odds: 15-1

Jockey/trainer: Mike Smith/Clifford Sise

Comment: The front-runner. How fast he runs the first quarter-mile could affect the race critically. The trainer said he’s at the Derby because the owners want to be there. That doesn’t sound encouraging.

Prediction: 1. Outwork; 2. Mor Spirit; 3. Nyquist.

Race info

Weights: 126 pounds. Distance: 1¼ miles. Purse: $2,391,600 if 20 start. First place: $1,631,000. Second place: $400,000. Third place: $200,000. Fourth place: $100,000. Fifth place: $60,000. Post time: 6:34 p.m. TV: NBC.


Joe Sullivan can be reached at Joseph.sullivan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeSullivan