Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, March 31, 2016 at 3:01 PM
DERBY DOINGS 2016
VOL. 16 - NUMBER 2
IS THE FLORIDA DERBY REALLY JUST A TWO COLT RACE...
Only 6 Weekends Until The First Saturday In May
There are two Kentucky Derby Qualifying Preps scheduled for Saturday and it is rather safe to make at least one definitive statement about each.
In the Grade I Florida Derby 100 qualifying points will be provided to the winner and 40 points to the second place finisher. And based on the pundits' conversation regarding this key Derby Prep Nyquist and Mohaymen are about to run first and second or second and first respectively, which will leave the eight challengers battling for the 20 and 10 points that go to the third and fourth place finishers.
At Turfway Park fourteen 3-year olds, including a pair of also-eligible runners will look to gain a share of the 50-20-10-5 points awarded to the top four finishers, And if there is a definitive statement to be made about this synthetic surface race it is this...if you look up the term wide open in the dictionary it says, see 2016 Spiral Stakes, Turfway Park.
In today's Part One of this weekend's DERBY DOINGS we'll take a look at the Florida Derby and will return tomorrow with a preview of the Spiral Stakes.
MOHAYMEN GIVEN "EDGE" OVER NYQUIST IN SUPPOSED MATCH RACE
When post positions were drawn for the $1 Million Grade I Florida Derby the other day, the undefeated Mohaymen drew post 4 and was immediately installed as the even-money favorite while the equally undefeated Nyquist drew post 9 and was installed at 6-5 on the morning line.
These short ML estimates make it obvious that the officials who determine such projections are banking on a public that will completely ignore the other eight runners that were set to challenge the undefeated duo.
Admittedly, it is difficult to discover any tarnish on these two well-polished machines so the overwhelming attention paid to a singular meme, that the Mohaymen-Nyquist "match race" is a must watch.
In fact, TVG, which of late has become as much or more of a tout service than a true handicapping venue (every announcer has a pick on every race at every track and continually exhorts you to sign up and wager) is guaranteeing players 3-1 odds on either Mohaymen or Nyquist should either win at whatever price.
Fair enough, but given that it would take an injury or other mishap to keep either out of the Kentucky Derby regardless of "which one wins" an astute handicapper must wonder if indeed there are any tarnished spots.
It is of course difficult to find them. That being said, with the exception of Nyquist's BC Juvenile win, neither of the two has faced a stern challenge in any of their races...and in fact, the rivals they have recently beaten haven't exactly flattered them.
Mohaymen, is likely 1-1 vs 6-5 for Nyquist because he has won twice over the Gulfstream main track while Nyquist will be making his first start over the surface.
Indeed, these two might very well be heads above their challengers but Mohaymen certainly was not flattered by Greenpointcrusader, who ran second to him in the Holy Bull but was far up the track at Fair Grounds in last Saturday's Louisiana Derby.
For his part, Nyquist has had exactly one major challenger in the four races he ran before his return in the 7 furlong San Vicente Stakes and that rival was Swipe, who finished second to Nyquist four straight times, including the BC Juvenile. It is also worth noting that Exaggerator, who finished second to Nyquist in the San Vicente reverted to a non-threatening third in the San Felipe Stakes three weeks back.
Slight tarnish perhaps, but one should always question the invincibility trope. So what about the remaining eight challengers.
SAWYERS MICKEY - O.K., maybe not every one of the eight challengers makes sense. Still a maiden after seven lifetime tries and coming off an even third over the synthetic in the ungraded marginal John Battaglia Stakes at Turfway Park one has to wonder just what trainer Peter Walder is hoping for.
FELLOWSHIP - The Stanley Gold trained son of Awesome Of Course has already outrun his mile speed blood lines with even third place finishes behind Mohaymen in the Holy Bull and the Fountain Of Youth. With the desire to be in the Kentucky derby. If not dream of winning it, a similar third place finish and 20 more points would give this colt enough qualifying points to almost (based on the qualifying numbers of past years) guarantee a spot in the starting gate the first Saturday in May. He has stayed on at a mile and a sixteenth despite slight traffic issues in his two previous so it is reasonable to think the extra sixteenth of a mile will be helpful.
MAJESTO - The Tiznow colt finally broke his maiden in his 5th start on February 27 and has turned in a series of sharp breezes since. The Gustavo Delgado trainee will definitely be testing deeper but it is worth noting that his last 4 races have been around two turns and he has run the 9 furlong distance twice. Also in his favor is that Gulfstream leading jockey Javier Castellano, who jumped aboard the 300K yearling purchase colt for the first time for the maiden breaker returns.
COPINGAWAY - This is the other truly questionable runner whose connections must be looking for a miracle. While the son of Brother Derek has shown decent enough form on the turf to warrant upper level claiming contention, he is 0 for 4 on the main track and 1 for 14 overall lifetime. In addition, as of Wednesday his trainer Jaimie Mejia was looking for his first win at the meet after 48 failed tries.
CHOVANES - This lightly raced Colonel John colt is another going from a maiden win into the Florida Derby. It is likely he will be overlooked by the public, especially since he dropped from a MSW test to 50K maiden claimers to break through in career start number four. This is of course a big step up, but with 30% trainer Jorge Navarro (from about 150 starters at the meet) as the colt's handler, a trainer who wins at 21% in Graded Stakes, improvement isn't completely out of the realm of possibility.
TAKEITTOTHEEDGE - This Broken Vow colt is definitely the one unknown prospect in the race. It took until March 6 for the Dale Romans trainee to make his career debut but it was sure worth the wait. In a 7 furlong MSW test (by consensus the most difficult distance to debut at) he went right up to control the pace and opened up through the lane. He went into that race off a series of very solid drills and has breezed sharply since. He would not be a complete surprise if he hit the board.
FASHIONABLE FREDDY - The Nick Zito trainee has had a trio of attempts going two turns vs entry level allowance foes and is still looking for career win number two. Zito has struggled a bit in important Graded Stakes races in recently years and this guy has an even running style that could pick up pieces if others falter or could be out of the hunt throughout. Those that look to a silver lining will see that in his three allowance tries he was bumped out of the gate, broke slowly prior to that and three back was caught in between rivals while looking for position.
ISOFASS - The son of Rodman will make his fifth career start after finishing a decent enough third in an entry level allowance race over the track in his last. In that race he ran even at mile and an eight distance and stayed on through the lane. On the plus side the colt gets Lasix for the first time and the very capable piloting of Julien Leparoux. On the questionable side he was 5 lengths behind battery in the last race and Battery was a disappointing no show in the Louisiana Derby last Saturday.
Looking at the eight challengers to Mohaymen and Nyquist one can see why the pundits aren't looking beyond the potential match race. And if that is how it turns out finishing the third and fourth place finishers might be the challenge. Especially since the exotics are the advisable wagers given that either or both Mohaymen and Nyquist might go off at "less" than even money and 6-5 respectively.
Don't forget to check back tomorrow afternoon for the preview of the Spiral Stakes from Turfway Park.