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Profile on Kentucky Derby Favorite Nyquist

Update - Nyquist was victorious in the 2016 Kentucky Derby with a time of 2:01:31. The horse is now a big favorite to win the Preakness Stakes. See the latest Preakness odds here.

He is perfect and he is heading to Churchill Downs on the first Saturday of May as the betting favorite for the Kentucky Derby (G1).

His name is Nyquist and after being temporarily overtaken in early Kentucky Derby futures wagering by Mohaymen back in January, the Doug O’Neill trainee disposed of that rival easily in his final prep, the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park on April 2. That race can be viewed here.

Currently at early Kentucky Derby betting odds of +300 at Bovada, Nyquist showed early in his career he had some serious talent.

He was all out to break his maiden in his debut last June at Santa Anita, and returned his backers $17.00 for the victory. He won’t pay that much for a win again anytime soon.

The colt took Del Mar by storm, winning the Best Pal (G2) followed by the Del Mar Futurity (G1).

A victory in the Frontrunner (G1) at Santa Anita followed, and then he wrapped up the Eclipse Award for top juvenile of 2015 by winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Keeneland.

His three-year-old debut came in the seven-furlong San Vicente (G2) on Feb. 15, and despite being on the sidelines for 3 ½ months he was a sharp winner.

That race normally serves as a prep for the San Felipe (G2) and Santa Anita Derby (G1), but as a sales graduate of the Fasig Tipton Florida Sale in March of 2015 for $400,000, he was eligible for a $1 million bonus for winning the Florida Derby (G1).

That also meant taking on the undefeated Mohaymen, who had taken over as early betting favorite for the Kentucky Derby after his wins in the Holy Bull and Fountain of Youth (G2).

His connections shipped to Florida, stating the bonus was not the only incentive, but the five weeks between the Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby would also suit the colt.

Mohaymen was sent off as the 4-5 favorite in the Florida Derby while Nyquist was the second choice at 6-5. Nyquist took the field gate to wire while Mohaymen did not show his usual punch, weakening to finish fourth.

Before the Florida Derby Mohaymen was listed at +225 while Nyquist was at +500 in early Derby wagering at Bovada. When the dust cleared after the Florida Derby, Nyquist was back on top as the betting favorite at +300 while Mohaymen has now dropped to the third choice at +800.

Nyquist is attempting to become just the second Breeders’ Cup Juvenile champion to win the Kentucky Derby the following spring. Street Sense was the first in 2007.

If Nyquist’s connections look familiar, they should. Owner Paul Reddam, O’Neill and jockey Mario Gutierrez teamed up to win the 2012 Kentucky Derby and Preakness with I’ll Have Another.

I’ll Have Another was going to be sent off as the short priced favorite for the Belmont Stakes with a Triple Crown hanging in the balance, but the colt had to scratch on the eve of the race with a tendon injury.

Nyquist’s sire Uncle Mo is fast becoming one of the hottest sires in the game. He was a highly regarded three-year-old who was the beaten favorite in the Wood Memorial (G1) and would have been one of the favorites for the Kentucky Derby only to get scratched the day before with a gastrointestinal infection.

His mare is Seeking Gabrielle, a winner of one of her seven starts, a sprint on dirt. Nyquist is her first foal to race.

It is tough to find any knocks on Nyquist, who has done everything asked of him and more. He will be a major player on the first Saturday of May.

Handicapper Michael Dempsey provides his full card analysis for Keeneland daily and selections for Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby Day at turfnsport.com.

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