If there were any doubters Saturday afternoon about Nyquist’s ability and talent, they were quickly silenced as the undefeated horse ran a perfect race, taking the lead in the stretch and holding off Exaggerator for a 1 1/4 length win.
(I must brag here and say that I picked the top two finishers – considering they were the top two betting choices, it wasn’t a long shot, but I based it more on race strategy than betting odds. Damn you Brody’s Cause – I would have had a Trifecta.)
Nyquist broke perfectly, and jockey Mario Gutierrez had to put the brakes on the horse as he wanted to run. Instead he let Danzing Candy set the pace and stalked him for most of the race, sometimes second, sometimes third to Gun Runner. He made his move at the far turn, neck and neck with Gun Runner, and at the top of the stretch he was in the lead.
Then it was typical Nyquist – you think he’s going to tire, you think he’s slowing down, but he holds off all challengers. Exaggerator made a bold move at the last 1/8 of a mile but couldn’t catch Nyquist, who finished the race in 2:01.31, the fastest Derby in 13 years. He earned a 103 Beyer figure for the effort, tying Exaggerator for the fastest figure of the season.
It looks like there will be a rematch between the two in the Preakness, although the shorter race seems more set up for Nyquist than Exaggerator. No details yet on who else will make the trip to Pimlico, but third- and fourth-place finishers Gun Runner and Mohaymen certainly deserve an entry.
There’s already talk of another Triple Crown as the undefeated Nyquist seemed in control the whole way. The only question is whether Nyquist can go a mile and a half. Of course, there were some who didn’t think he could go a mile and a quarter.