Favored Nyquist draws lucky 13 for Kentucky Derby

Reuters News
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Posted: May 04, 2016 8:14 PM

(Reuters) - Unbeaten Nyquist was rated the 3-1 early favorite for Saturday's 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville after drawing the 13th gate on Wednesday for the Run for the Roses.

Nyquist has won seven times at four different tracks and has some positive vibes on his side with trainer Doug O'Neill and jockey Mario Gutierrez having teamed up for a Kentucky Derby win in 2012 with I’ll Have Another.

"Breaking from 13 is fine," O'Neill said after the draw. "He was number 13 when he won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Keeneland so the post draw didn't matter to us a ton. But we're happy being more to the outside for sure."

Second choice in the first leg of U.S. thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown is Exaggerator, an 8-1 choice starting from the 11th post position, with Creator, Gun Runner and Mohaymen joint third picks at 10-1 in the 20-horse field.

Exaggerator, coming off an impressive win over a sloppy track in last month's Santa Anita Derby, is handled by a brotherly connection with Kent Desormeaux in the saddle for trainer J. Keith Desormeaux.

Creator and Gun Runner, starting from the third and fifth positions, respectively, are trained by Steven Asmussen, who recently won election to the racing's Hall of Fame and is seeking his first Kentucky Derby victory.

Mohaymen, starting alongside Nyquist from the 14th gate, is trained by Kiaran McLaughlin.

Last year's Derby winner, American Pharoah, went on to sweep the Preakness and Belmont Stakes to become the 12th horse and first in 37 years to complete the Triple Crown.

American Pharoah's trainer Bob Baffert will have to overcome a Gate 17 jinx if he is to snare a fifth Derby win as his mount Mor Spirit drew No. 17 and no horse has won the fabled race from that post position.

"Last year I had the 18th with American Pharoah and there was a scratch, but then we ended up at 16," he said, adding he was not worried about bucking the hex.

Starting from the eighth spot is Japanese-owned Lani, the UAE Derby winner aiming to become the first foreign-shipped horse to win the Kentucky Derby since Cannonero II in 1971. He was rated a 30-1 longshot.

(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Frank Pingue)