Kentucky Derby favourite Nyquist tough to quibble

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The 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby goes off at 23:34 UK time on Saturday and Doug O’Neil’s Nyquist looks a worthy favourite at 3/1.

Unbeaten in seven career runs, the son Uncle Mo is the sole runner in the Churchill Downs contest yet to have his bubble burst.

In his two outings as a three-year-old he has already lowered the colours of several of his likely opponents in the ‘race for the roses’.

He bested 8/1 co-second-favourite Exaggerator over 7f in a Santa Anita Grade 2 in February, having previously topped that foe over 1m½f in Grade 1 company on his final start as a juvenile.

Then, on his most recent start, Nyquist stepped up to 1m1f, the furthest trip he has tackled to date, to land the Grade 1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park.

In taking that dirt affair, he upset previously unbeaten market leader Mohaymen, the other 8/1 co-second-favourite to take the laurels in the first leg of the Triple Crown.

Uncertainty over whether he will definitively stay the 1m2f trip at Churchill Downs is arguably the biggest stick the O’Neil colt’s detractors have to beat him with – his sire never scored over further than 1m½f.

However, his dam’s sire Empire Maker landed the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes over 1m4f on sloppy going so his lineage is not devoid of the requisite stamina.

Furthermore his win last time out came by a comfortable 3¾l, the third-widest margin of victory on his unblemished ledger and in spite of him coming off a straight line inside the final furlong.

The last three runnings of the Kentucky Derby have gone the way of the favourite, with Orb scoring at 5/1 in 2013 and 5/2 shots California Chrome and Triple-Crown hero American Pharoah taking the laurels in 2014 and last year respectively.

Having already accounted for the two horses the market would have us believe are his closest challengers, Nyquist has the credentials to join them in the winner’s enclosure.

Should punters insist upon taking him on, then Ladbrokes are paying four places at 1/5 of the odds in the contest.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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