CRAWFORD | Nyquist draws No. 13 post, is 3-1 morning line favori - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Nyquist draws No. 13 post, is 3-1 morning line favorite for Kentucky Derby 142

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Unbeaten 2-year-old champion Nyquist drew the No. 13 post and was installed as a 3-1 Morning Line favorite for the 142nd Kentucky Derby during the post-position draw at Churchill Downs on Wednesday.

The Derby is scheduled to go to post at 6:34 p.m. on Saturday.

Trained by Doug O'Neill, who won the 2011 Derby with I'll Have Another, Nyquist has won all seven of his races -- four of them Grade 1 stakes -- and has been the clear favorite for the race since winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile last October in Keeneland. Nyquist also is bidding to become the fourth consecutive favorite to win the race.

O'Neill had said before the race he wouldn't mind the No. 14 post. That's the jersey number, worn by his namesake, Detroit Red Wings player Gustav Nyquist. He was only one off.

"It's pretty exciting to have the favorite for the Kentucky Derby," he said. "Watching them train this week. Exaggerator looked really good today. Mohaymen looked really good today. Gun Runner continues to impress. It's a really wide-open group. It does look like there's not a ton of speed. I expect a great race. . . . Our horse is eating good, feeling good, thriving on all the positive attention. We're very blessed to be around him."

The draw can have a major impact on Kentucky Derby strategy, with an expected 20-horse field and major jockeying for position to get to the first turn in the 1 1/4-mile first leg of horse racing's Triple Crown. But this year's Derby shapes up as a potentially late-closing affair, with 13 of the 20 starters having preferred to come from well off the pace, or far off it, during their pre-Derby prep races.

But in an interesting twist, the only real speed horse, and the one most likely to be in a hurry to get to the front, Danzing Candy, will break from the far outside, the No. 20 post, under jockey Mike Smith, who won the 2005 Derby aboard 50-1 shot Giacomo.

"They can get to the front from out there, but you wonder what it would do to his energy late if he does," O'Neill said. "But at the same time, on the inside you have a lot of closers, and if the pace is slow enough, maybe he could make the lead or be close without having to send hard."

Exaggerator, who made a late run to win the Santa Anita Derby, drew the No. 11 post and was assigned odds of 8-1 as the second-choice in the Morning Line. Trained by Keith Desormeaux and ridden by his brother, Kent, a three-time winner of the Derby, Exaggerator is bidding to become the third Santa Anita Derby winner in the past five years to win the Run for the Roses.

Kent Desormeaux wasn't happy with the prospect of being one of the first colts entered into the gate in the No. 11 spot.

"It sucks," he said. When asked if that's what he really meant, he said, "It sucks. He'll be in the gate too long."

Oddsmaker Mike Battaglia listed three third-choices at 10-1.

Two of them are trained by Steve Asmussen, recently elected to the National Horse Racing Museum and Hall of Fame. Gun Runner, winner of the Louisiana Derby, was the leading points-earner in Churchill Downs Derby qualifying system and will break from the No. 5 spot. Creator, a late-blooming colt was winless as a 2-year-old but was impressive in capturing the Arkansas Derby with a late run, and also is 10-1 and will break from the No. 3 spot.

"You just want to make sure you get to the wire the first time without being eliminated," Asmussen said. "What you want to avoid is getting bumped around. You lose a head here, a neck there, and all of a sudden it multiplies quickly, and you don't ever get that stuff back."

The other third-choice is Kiaran McLaughlin's Mohaymen, who was unbeaten until a flat effort in an off track against winner Nyquist in the Florida Derby.

Among those at 12-1 is Bob Baffert, who won the Triple Crown last season with American Pharoah, is seeking to become just the second trainer ever to collect a fifth Derby victory, but he'll have to do it from a post which has never produced a Derby winner. His Mor Spirit, ridden by three-time winner Gary Stevens, will break from the No. 17 hole, which is 0-for-37.

"We wanted post position No. 16," Baffert said. "We got 17. We're OK. It's like two different races. Most of the speed horses are going to be outside."

Baffert remembered that one of his best horses, Point Given, drew No. 17 and was beaten, with Stevens as the rider.

"But it wasn't the post position that beat him," Baffert said.

Brody's Cause, trained by Louisville's Dale Romans, also got a tough post at No. 19. The Blue Grass Stakes winner still was listed at odds of 12-1.

"Nyquist is still the horse to beat," Stevens said. "We've all made a lot of excuses trying to beat him. But none of us have done it."

POST POSITIONS AND ODDS FOR KENTUCKY DERBY 142

1. Trojan Nation 50-1
2. Suddenbreakingnews 20-1
3. Creator 10-1
4. Mo Tom 20-1
5. Gun Runner 10-1
6. My Man Sam 20-1
7. Oscar Nominated 50-1
8. Lani 30-1
9. Destin 15-1
10. Whitmore 20-1
11. Exaggerator 8-1
12. Tom's Ready 30-1
13. Nyquist 3-1
14. Mohaymen 10-1
15. Outwork 15-1
16. Shagaf 20-1
17. Mor Spirit 12-1
18. Majesto 30-1
19. Brody's Cause 12-1
20. Danzing Candy 15-1

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