For Immediate Release April 4, 2016
NYQUIST (7 for 7) TAKES OVER #1; MOHAYMEN #5 IN ULTIMATE KENTUCKY DERBY POLL PRESENTED BY BRISNET.COM
There’s a change at No. 1 for the first time this season in the Ultimate Kentucky Derby Poll presented by Brisnet.com as 2015 juvenile champion Nyquist improved to 7 for 7 with his authoritative 3 1/4-length triumph over 21-1 shot Majesto in Saturday’s $1 million Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park.
The Doug O’Neill-trained Nyquist, last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile victor at Keeneland, went from No. 2 in the poll with two first-place votes to grabbing 10 top spots among the panel of 13 noted handicappers, racing analysts and turf journalists. Louisiana Derby winner Gun Runner, Rebel winner Cupid and San Felipe runner-up Mor Spirit each attracted one first-place vote. Unseated as the overwhelming No. 1 and plunging to No. 5 was Mohaymen, a well-beaten fourth as the Florida Derby favorite suffered his first defeat in six races.
The Ultimate Kentucky Derby poll appears every Monday morning at horseracingradio.net, the website of Eclipse Award-winning Horse Racing Radio Network (HRRN), which is partnering with Brisnet.com, the official data source of the Kentucky Derby, to produce the rankings. HRRN will have extensive coverage of this Saturday’s Grade I Derby prep extravaganza of Keeneland’s Toyota Blue Grass, Aqueduct’s Wood Memorial and the Santa Anita Derby beginning at 4:00 p.m. ET on SiriusXM channel 83 and streaming live on the HRRN website.
“Champion Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Nyquist stayed undefeated with his Florida Derby victory and stayed on top of my Kentucky Derby list, but others dropped on the strength of his victory and weakness of Mohaymen's loss,” said Ed DeRosa of Brisnet and TwinSpires.com, who has had Nyquist on top all along. “Mohaymen, for instance, is out of the top five, as is Zulu, who finished second behind Mohaymen last out. Also second behind Mohaymen earlier this year was Greenpointcrusader, who stunk out the joint in the Louisiana Derby. I have Zulu ahead of Mohaymen because he can still improve whereas the Florida Derby seemed to indicate Mohaymen had plateaued.”
Here’s what other pollsters had to say:
"Nyquist should be on top of everyone's Derby poll,” said Michael Beychok, winner of the 2012 National Handicapping Championship to earn the Eclipse Award as Handicapper of the Year. “He has come East twice and vanquished all opponents on two different surfaces.”
HRRN’s Acacia Courtney: “It was hard to jump on the bandwagon and put Nyquist at the top of my ballot. But I had been waiting for him to show me something and answered the questions I had. Yes, he can go the distance, and yes, he can beat horses I had thought to be superior, like Mohaymen.”
Racing analyst Caton Bredar: “The results of the Florida Derby provide a few answers about Nyquist, and a lot more questions about Mohaymen and the others. Given his perfect record, his win in the BC Juvenile and now, his ability to travel cross country and adapt to the most extreme South Florida conditions, Nyquist must be respected as a horse capable of exceeding expectations. He’s not flashy, but he looked impeccable prior to the Florida Derby. If he can carry not only his form but also his conditioning and flesh to Kentucky through the next five weeks, he’s the horse to beat.
“The question now is whether Nyquist—and with him, the California horses as a group— are that much better than Mohaymen and the East Coast runners, or did the Florida Derby favorite just have an off day?… Was Junior Alvarado being careful and conservative when he knew he couldn’t win? Are Majesto and Fellowship improving horses who might be better than first anticipated?”
Brisnet.com’s James Scully, who has Cupid on top, takes a different stance, saying, “No surprise to see Nyquist win – picked him over Mohaymen due to his tactical advantage (speed) – but I didn’t like the way he drifted out and alternated leads through the stretch. He registered a moderate speed rating (similar to BC Juvenile & FrontRunner) and I don’t like to see Kentucky Derby contenders earn better numbers in sprints than routes (Nyquist’s Speed ratings are 5-to-6 points better at one turn). He won’t be able to dominate on an easy lead at Churchill Downs and remains vulnerable at the 1 ¼-mile distance in my estimation.”
Churchill Downs and TwinSpires.com’s Gary Palmisano is looking to California, but put Mor Spirit and Danzing Candy 1-2. “Nyquist flattered the West Coast horses but I am skeptical that he may have run his derby this past weekend. Cross-country flight, big effort and a Derby which appears to have some pace. I'll look at the other west coast horses on top!”
The Ultimate Kentucky Derby Poll presented by Brisnet.com is overseen by Jennie Rees, a five-time Eclipse Award-winning turf writer who provides comments on the consensus top 20 at horseracingradio.net.
Other Ultimate Kentucky Derby pollsters are HRRN co-founder and president Mike Penna; HRRN analyst and former trainer Jude Feld; reigning NHC Tour winner Jonathon Kinchen; Steve Byk, host of the popular weekday racing show At the Races with Steve Byk; Jim Mulvihill, Director of Media & Industry Relations at the National Thoroughbred Racing Association; and Jeff Siegel, the prominent California analyst, handicapper and longtime horse owner.
The Horse Racing Radio Network is your home for Eclipse Award winning coverage of the biggest events in racing throughout the year. HRRN broadcasts more than 100 stakes races and is the official radio network of the Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup World Championships. HRRN also produces a series of popular talk shows aired throughout the week on SiriusXM satellite radio: Xpressbet Radio on HRRN (Wednesday – Friday, 3-6 p.m. ET), Jock Talk presented by Tito’s Handmade Vodka (Tuesday, 6-7 p.m. ET), Trainer Talk presented by Fasig-Tipton (Wednesday, 6-7 p.m. ET), Brisnet Call In Show (Thursday, 6-7 p.m. ET), Xpressbet Weekend Stakes Preview (Friday, 6-7 p.m. ET) and the Equine Forum (Saturday, 8-10 a.m. ET).
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Brisnet.com is the official data source of the Kentucky Derby, TwinSpires.com, and Churchill Downs Inc.’s family of racetracks. Founded in 1971 by Richard “Dick” Broadbent III as Bloodstock Research Information Services, Brisnet.com was the first large-scale website to offer past performances online when it launched in 1996. Acquired by CDI in 1996, Brisnet.com is a leading provider of horse racing information. Follow Brisnet.com on Twitter @Brisnet.
About Jennie Rees
Jennie Rees, a five-time Eclipse Award winner and 2014 inductee into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame’s Joe Hirsch Media Roll of Honor, covered racing for The (Louisville) Courier-Journal for 32 years before leaving newspaper journalism to specialize in horse-racing communications, advocacy and fan education. Follow her on Twitter @TracksideJennie and at “Trackside Jennie” on Facebook.