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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Saturday, May 7, 2016) – Reddam Racing’s Nyquist took the lead from Gun Runner in the upper stretch, opened a daylight margin and had more than enough to hold off Exaggerator by 1 1/4 lengths to win the 142nd running of the $2,391,600 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) on a sun-splashed afternoon before a crowd of 167,227, the second-largest in Derby history.
It was the second victory in the Derby for owner Paul Reddam, trainer Doug O’Neill and jockey Mario Gutierrez; the trio that got the roses in 2012 with I’ll Have Another.
Gutierrez became the first jockey since Willie Simms to win the Derby twice with his first two mounts. Simms won in 1896 with Ben Brush and in 1898 with Plaudit.
Nyquist covered the mile and a quarter on a fast track in 2:01.31, the 13th fastest in race history. He became the 21st 2-year-old champion to come back the following year and win the Kentucky Derby and the second Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI) winner to take the roses along with Street Sense nine years ago.
Now undefeated in eight career starts, Nyquist is the first undefeated Derby winner with eight victories since Majestic Prince in 1969.
Nyquist is a Kentucky-bred son of Uncle Mo out of the Forestry mare Seeking Gabrielle. Now a five-time Grade I winner, Nyquist boosted his earnings to $4,954,200.
Danzing Candy led the field of 20 past the finish line the first time with Nyquist and Gun Runner in closest pursuit. Danzing Candy cut out fractions of :22.58, :45.72 and 1:10.40 but on the far turn, the complexion of the race changed.
With Gun Runner on the inside and Nyquist on the outside, the two leaders turned for home virtually together with five lengths on the rest of the field. Nyquist opened a 2 ½-length lead at the eighth pole and coasted home as the fourth straight favorite to win the Kentucky Derby.
Nyquist returned $6.60, $4.80 and $3.60. Exaggerator, ridden by Kent Desormeaux, returned $5.40 and $4.20 with Gun Runner finishing 3 ¼ lengths back in third under Florent Geroux and returning $6 to show.
Mohaymen finished another head back in fourth and was followed in order by Suddenbreakingnews, Destin, Brody’s Cause, Mo Tom, Lani, Mor Spirit, My Man Sam, Tom’s Ready, Creator, Outwork, Danzing Cancy, Trojan Nation, Oscar Nominated, Majesto and Whitmore. Shagaf did not finish.
Kentucky Derby Post-Race News Conference
Doug O’Neill, trainer of Nyquist (first) – “He’s a special, special horse. You can see it in his eye on a daily basis. He knows how to bring his ‘A’ game. If he was a human athlete, we’d celebrate him as a super star.”
Keith Desormeaux, trainer of Exaggerator (second) – “I didn’t think Exaggerator hit the brakes as much as Kent alluded to. He burst out of the turn, I thought we had time to catch Nyquist. He had clear running room the entire one-quarter mile stretch. I thought for sure we would catch him. He did kind of level off the last sixteenth of a mile. Maybe he ran out of the training. I didn’t see where Nyquist was during the race until after it was over and he was there right there on the pace. What a horse. I can’t respect that horse enough.”
Steve Asmussen, trainer of Gun Runner (third)/Creator (13th) – “We tried to win. You know what I mean. We tried to win. A solid pace. Nyquist was the horse to beat. I thought Florent (Geroux) tried to win the race. Creator, he got turned sideways on the turn. I looked. I loved where Gun Runner was. I was worried about him going too fast, but you can see that he was relaxed. He’s talented. I liked where he was. I looked back at Creator. You could tell that Ricardo (Santana Jr.) had horse. The next time I looked at Creator, he was fish-tailing.”
Kiaran McLaughlin, trainer of Mohaymen, (fourth) – “It was too much ground to make up by then, he didn’t get away great and he (Junior Alvarado) said that he spun his wheels too early, but he had a pretty good trip and saved ground around the first turn. He came out and put in a good run, congratulations to Nyquist, he’s still undefeated. He’s a star. I don’t know about the Triple Crown, but we’ll have a great year. I have no idea where he’ll run next, it’s too early to tell.”
Donnie Von Hemel, trainer of Suddenbreakingnews (fifth) – “Another jump he’s probably third. (Jockey) Luis (Quinonez) said the four (Mo Tom) came over on them.”
Todd Pletcher, trainer of Destin (sixth)/Outwork (14th) – (On Outwork) “He got the exactly the trip we had talked about. He got into perfect position but Johnny (Velazquez) said at the half-mile pole, he came off the bridle a little bit and finished evenly from there.” (On Destin) “He didn’t break real sharp, got shuffled back a little further back than we wanted to and flattened out the last eighth of a mile.”
Dale Romans, trainer of Brody’s Cause (seventh) – “I thought we got good position, then he started losing it. Then, he came running again. I’ve got to watch it again closely.”
Tom Amoss, trainer of Mo Tom (eighth) – “I’m just proud to be from New Orleans. I’m proud that this is a Louisiana horse all the way. And we’re going to get ’em next time. … We got the right set-up. They went very fast on the front end. The race just didn’t back up. We saw that a lot today, and that’s how it went in the Derby.”
Mikio Matsunaga, trainer of Lani (ninth) – “Very proud to be one of the runners. I am very impressed with the atmosphere. He chased from behind and the ground is too fast so it’s not a suitable ground for him, but he did a good run. For Lani and for myself, it’s a big experience for us.”
Bob Baffert, trainer of Mor Spirit (10th) – “He came away from there OK and he got a good spot going into the first turn. Then it just didn’t happen from there. He didn’t engage. He just didn’t have anything to fire for the finish.”
Chad Brown, trainer of My Man Sam (11th)/Shagaf (DNF) – “Shagaf was a huge disappointment. He got up there in the race, attending pretty hot pace, but I liked the fact that he was out of trouble. Then he just completely spit the bit. I’m not sure what exactly happened. We’ll have to go back to the drawing board. He trained so well leading up to it, that’s a surprise to me, a disappointment.
On May Man Sam: “Irad (Ortiz Jr.) felt that he had pretty good position, no one around him for the first half of the race, which was terrific. When he started to launch his bid he said he was jumping up and down a lot, wasn’t really handling the track, in his opinion. He got squeezed a little bit turning for him, but he said, ‘To be honest, I didn’t have a ton of horse under me. I really wasn’t going anywhere.’ We’ll take both horse back to New York and follow the normal procedures and see how they come out of their races.”
Dallas Stewart, trainer of Tom’s Ready (12th) – “I’m very happy, no excuses. He (Brian Hernandez, Jr.) gave him a great ride, he just got outrun.”
Cliff Sise Jr., trainer of Danzing Candy (15th) – “He’s cooling out great. We have a vet coming here soon [to scope] him since Mike [Smith] said he was making a [breathing] noise.”
Paddy Gallagher, trainer of Trojan Nation (16th) – “He passed four or five of them late. As long as he comes back fine, I’m good with it.”
Mike Maker, trainer of Oscar Nominated (17th) – “When the running started, they went one way, we went the other. Obviously, we’ll take him back to the grass probably and go from there.”
Gustavo Delgado, trainer of Majesto (18th) – “It didn’t look like he handled the racetrack.”
Ron Moquett, trainer of Whitmore (19th) – “The jock (Victor Espinoza) said he didn’t know if it was the rain or what, but he started stumbling around the half-mile mark. He decided to take care of him from there and we appreciate that. He looks OK. He’s walking around the barn fine. We’ll live to fight another day.”
Mario Gutierrez, rider of Nyquist (first) – “It’s unreal. No words can describe it.”
Kent Desormeaux, rider of Exaggerator (second) – “My horse slammed on the brakes at the 3 ½, ducked back to the inside and then took off. When you see the replay, it will be obvious. Before the race, my brother was really calm, calmer than any trainer I have ever ridden for. He just told me to have fun out there.”
Florent Geroux, rider of Gun Runner (third) – “When I hit the top of the stretch, the horse was just coasting along. He broke very nice, clear. I thought I had it for a minute. He started pricking his ears back and forth at the top of the stretch.”
Junior Alvarado, rider of Mohaymen (fourth) – “He broke good, he’s not that sharp the first two steps, but then I tried too late to go behind Nyquist. In the first eighth of the mile he was just climbing. The more I was asking him to be close, the more he was just climbing the first part. Coming into the first turn he was getting into a nice rhythm, but I was too far back. I didn’t want to be there, but that’s where he was. I just took a hold and let him find his rhythm and when he took me, he was himself past the three-quarter pole. Then he started picking it up and getting through traffic. I saved a lot of ground and the five-sixteenths I was trying to find a way to come out and have a nice clean run at the end and he finished up very good to me. It was a lot to do something way from behind, that’s not his best style of running. I had a bad feeling during the first half a mile, he was just climbing. He was too far back with too much to do.”
Luis Quinonez, rider of Suddenbreakingnews (fifth) – “Oh my God, we had a lot of traffic to deal with. He was there. He was running. He was flying.”
Javier Castellano, rider of Destin (sixth) – “I got a good trip. I expected to be closer to the pace. He didn’t break very sharply out of the gate. I got him covered up and saved all the ground on the first turn. He got a good trip. Turning for home, he got tired a little bit.”
Luis Saez, rider of Brody’s Cause (seventh) – “He got a good trip. He got good position. When we got to the half-mile, he was doing good, he was doing well.”
Corey Lanerie, rider of Mo Tom (eighth) – “I ran into a little traffic at the three-eighths pole, between the three-eighths and the quarter-pole. I think there was traffic in from of me that kind of backed up into my face. I did have a little (horse) left, but I don’t think I was going to endanger the front-runners. He would have to have a good, really clean trip. I had horse, but I don’t think on this racetrack I was going to make up a whole lot of ground. Nyquist, he’s a good horse. I tried following Exaggerator. When I saw him put on the brakes, I didn’t know where he was going to go, so I tipped out a little bit, and something in front of me happened, and I wound up being in the middle of that. So it was just a 20-horse field. Riding a closer, it’s hard to do.”
Yutaka Take, rider of Lani (ninth) – “It was a very tough race. He needed more speed.”
Gary Stevens, rider of Mor Spirit, (10th) – “I had a good trip but had no excuse. I didn’t he cared for the racetrack (after the rain) and ran similar to the way he did in the Santa Anita Derby. He fired away from the gate running, ran about five-eighth of a mile, his head was getting lower and lower, but I knew early on we were in for a long trip.”
Irad Ortiz Jr., rider of My Man Sam (11th) – “I had a good trip. No excuses today.”
Brian Hernandez Jr., rider of Tom’s Ready (12th) – “I had a great trip. If I can get that trip every time, the Derby would be easy. We got right behind the winner but turning for home, we just didn’t have the horse that they did.”
Ricardo Santana Jr., rider of Creator (13th) – “I got into a little trouble on the turn, at the three-eighths. He was moving really nice. I think that without that trouble, he was running big. That’s the game. He’s going to be all right. I still had horse. I stopped, then he came back running. I had to snatch up really hard. I’m glad the horse is fine. He came back safe. He’s going to be all right for the next race.”
John Velazquez, rider of Outwork (14th) – “Oh man, I couldn’t have asked for a better trip. It was a dream trip. Like I was telling Todd (Pletcher), I had him right where I wanted to have him, right behind Nyquist. I got to the backstretch and I got next to (Nyquist) and we were cruising along really well. I thought (Outwork) was handling the track really well. At the half-mile pole he kind of came off the bridle and I tried to put him back in the bridle and he just didn’t show any interest.”
Mike Smith, rider of Danzing Candy (15th) – “One thing I found out today that we didn’t know about — I never heard him breathe the way he did today. It sounds like he flipped his palate. As loud as that crowd was, I could hear him down the lane. When I pulled him up, he sounded like a lion.”
Aaron Gryder, rider of Trojan Nation (16th) – “We got squeezed a little going out of the gate, but you expect that in a 20-horse field. He settled and did the best he could from there. He didn’t fire on but he’s going to be a nice colt on down the line.”
Julien Leparoux, rider of Oscar Nominated (17th) – “A really good trip. We sat mid-pack on the fence. But on the second turn he didn’t have anything left. He was just kind of spinning his wheels.”
Emisael Jaramillo, rider of Majesto (18th) – “He didn’t like the track.”
Victor Espinoza, rider of Whitmore (19th) – “I had a great trip around the first turn, but it felt like he was just spinning his wheels. I felt like he was uncomfortable the entire race. He never picked up the bridle. It’s just how it goes sometimes. Sometime they like the track and sometimes they’re picky. He’s one of those. It was a great, great race. The winner, I knew he was the one to beat and he got the perfect trip.”
Joel Rosario, rider of Shagaf (DNF) – “I was in a good position in the first turn and on the backside but when I passed the three-eighths pole he was getting a little weak, a little tired. Turning for home, I just had to pull him up because he was so tired. (Did he not handle the track?) “It’s hard to tell. He was running really nice and was in the bridle. After he ran so far he just kind of gave it up and slowed down. Everyone was kind of passing me and I just had to pull him up.”
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