Kentucky Derby 2016
Nyquist, ridden by jockey Mario Gutierrez, wins the 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby. Longines, the Swiss watch manufacturer, is the Official Watch and Timekeeper of the KY Derby. (Photo by Diane Bondareff /AP Images for Longines)
The first Saturday in May means the exciting Run for the Roses in Louisville, Kentucky. On May 7, 2016, Churchill Downs was crowded with 167,227 fans, here to savor the spectacle of the 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby. The crowd was the second largest in history, just under the record of 170,513 last year.
The 2 to 1 favorite Nyquist broke well from the 13th pole position and moved well to the front early on, running among the top three horses for most of the race. Danzing Candy took the lead going into the first turn, with Nyquist cruising near the front with jockey Mario Gutierrez biding his time for the right moment. Coming into the final turn, Nyquist and Gun Runner overtook tiring leader Danzing Candy at the top of the stretch. Then Gutierrez and Nyquist made their move, speeding toward the finish line. Coming down the homestretch with 1/16th of a mile to go, Nyquist looked well clear, but Exaggerator closed fast in an unsuccessfully try for the win. Nyquist completed the win by 1 ¼ lengths, leaving Exaggerator in second.
“I thought we had time to catch Nyquist,” said Exaggerator’s trainer, Keith Desormeaux. “What a horse! I can’t respect that horse enough.”
Nyquist delivered a second Derby win for Gutierrez, trainer Doug O’Neill and owner J. Paul Reddam. The Southern California-based team was behind 2012 Derby and Preakness winner I’ll Have Another. The bay colt, who lacks any distinctive markings, now has 8-0 wins in his career as the fourth consecutive favorite to win the race. He entered the Derby as the 2-year-old champion and was undefeated on seven starts. In fact, he had already bested at one time or another nearly a fourth of the field in this year’s field.
Bred in Kentucky by Summerhill Farm, Nyquist was purchased by Reddam at a sale of 2-year olds for $400,000.Nyquist was named for Swedish ice hockey player Gustav Nyquist, who plays for the Detroit Red Wings.
Gun Runner was third, edging out Mohaymen, who was fourth. Suddenbreakingnews, winner of the Southwest Stakes and runner-up in the Arkansas Derby, was fifth.
Racing fans may remember the reports on Doug O’Neill’s drug practices during the 2012 Triple Crown season. The New York Times reported that over 14 years and in four states, O’Neill had received more than a dozen violations for giving his horses improper drugs, and that his horses also had a tendency to break down or show signs of injury at more than twice the average rate nationally. [see NY Times article “A Derby Win, but a Troubled Record for a Trainer” by Joe Drape and Walt Bogdanich, May 10, 2012 at: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/11/sports/trainer-of-kentucky-derby-winner-has-a-troubled-record.html]
Tim Layden wrote in a May 3, 2016 article, “Behind Kentucky Derby favorite Nyquist, a familiar team:”
“As I’ll Have Another was running toward history (in 2012 before the Belmont Stakes), the racing industry was struggling to control the actions of trainers who use illegal drugs to keep horses running fast, or simply just running. O’Neill had been punished a dozen times for drug-related violations in multiple states. He was cast in the media as an example of all that was wrong with the sport (and Reddam was criticized not only for employing O’Neill, but for once owning a company that sold subprime mortgages and founding Cash Call, the company he still owns, which specializes in high-interest loans).
That year “the New York Racing Association implemented a rule mandating that Belmont Stakes horses be placed in a detention barn 72 hours before the race. The rule lasted one year.”
Upon retirement, Nyquist will stand at Lexington, Ky.-based Jonabell Farm. Darley America purchased his breeding rights days after Nyquist won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile last year.
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