2016 Kentucky Derby Preview – What To Know, Who To Bet

2016 Kentucky Derby Preview – What To Know, Who To Bet

On Saturday, May 7th, the Kentucky Derby will run for the 142nd time kicking off an intense Triple Crown series that also includes the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes. The race is scheduled for 6:34 pm EST. Are you ready for the Fastest Two Minutes in Sports?

Horse racing may not be your thing, but if you’re like any other sports betting snob out there then you’ll want to get in on the action. The biggest draw of the Kentucky Derby is rarely the sport itself; it’s the ability to make heaps of money with smartly placed wagers.

So if you want to sound like you know what you’re talking about from all angles – horse betting included – then this is the article for you to digest.

Nyquist Is The Best Bet To Win The Kentucky Derby

2016 Kentucky Derby Preview – What To Know, Who To BetThe favorite at the Kentucky Derby will run out of the 13th post, and in a field of twenty horses, that’s a great position to be in. All in all, this is shaping up quite nicely for the 2016 Florida Derby champion.

Nyquist is getting 3/1 odds right now that won’t likely shift all that much considering how talented the field at this year’s event is. Keep in mind that the favorite has won the Kentucky Derby for three straight years, thanks to better analysis from handicappers and oddsmakers alike.

American Pharoah and California Chrome both won the last two renditions as 5/2 preferences. Orb won in 2013 at a slightly higher mark of 7/2. Nyquist is somewhere in between those odds, so the payout is more than fair. If I could offer you 3/1 odds on Golden State winning the championship, you would unload your entire bankroll on that bet. That’s how good Nyquist is.

The 2016 Kentucky Derby favorite has looked sensational during his training. This is largely due to the fact that Nyquist is one of the most well rested horses heading in to this weekend’s Run for the Roses. He’s only competed twice this season since his trainers and ownership are confident that he doesn’t have anything more to prove.

Of course, it wouldn’t be much of a race if Nyquist was such a decisive favorite. He’s being pressed by a particularly dense field of talent pressing behind him. The second-favorite in particular has generated some curious numbers from the oddsmakers.

What’s The Deal With Exaggerator?

A month ago, Exaggerator was a 27/1 longshot in the Kentucky Derby futures market. A week after that, he won the Santa Anita Derby and his odds dropped all the way to 8/1. To be fair, lots of horses have won lots of big races over the past three months. Exaggerator’s win at the Santa Anita Derby was huge (the race offers a $1 million purse) but it could also be treated as a one-off. So what gives?

There are three main factors here:

1) Exaggerator is the son of Curlin, a Hall of Fame horse who earned $10.5 million. Pedigree doesn’t necessarily mean everything in this sport, but genetics play a very large role in generating odds.

2) Exaggerator clocked the fastest speed rating of 2016. Beyond that, he blasted through a muddy 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.66. By comparison, Nyquist ran the same distance over optimal conditions at the Florida Derby in 1:49.11. To put it simply, Exaggerator is capable of incredibly impressive performances.

3) The oddsmakers are essentially trying to insulate themselves from a sudden rush of action on Exaggerator. At no point during the season did he warrant anything better than 27/1 odds.

So do you take him seriously? Only if you truly don’t believe in Nyquist’s level of excellence. I should also point out that Nyquist has beaten Exaggerator twice already straight up.

He deserves to be on your radar, but I’m more skeptical of Exaggerator than most. Just because he’s a son of Curlin doesn’t necessarily make him a champion outright. But breeding is a vital element to this sport, which brings me to my next talking point…

Who The Hell Are Tapit and Uncle Mo?

The 2007 financial crisis left U.S. thoroughbred breeding in dire straits, just like the rest of the country. One of the major sires to survive the massive economic downturn was Tapit, a horse who has become essential to maintaining the bloodstock of champion pedigrees. To put things simply, Tapit’s offspring tend to run really, really fast.

The ownership group for Tapit charges a stud fee of $300,000 for about 15 minutes of his service to mate with mares (i.e. female horses). In 2015, Tapit grossed $35 million with over 135 sessions. Ironically, Tapit makes more in thirty minutes of stud work than he did in his entire career. He has been called the most important animal in American sports. It’s hard to argue with the results.

Three of Tapit’s sons will be challenging for the 2016 Kentucky Derby. These include Creator (10/1), Lani (30/1) and Mohaymen (10/1). In fact, Mohaymen was originally purchased for $2.2 million. That’s how much the pedigree of Tapit can be worth on some levels.

For the past few generations, Tapit’s offspring have literally been running wild in U.S. thoroughbred racing. But this year, a new crop of horses is emerging from another bloodline. The sons of Uncle Mo have arrived.

Uncle Mo wasn’t a spectacular racehorse himself. An award winning two-year old, Uncle Mo’s liver crapped out before he could contend for the Triple Crown. As is the way of the sport, Uncle Mo was retired in to breeding in 2012 since he couldn’t compete.

This crop of three-year-olds is Uncle Mo’s first wave of real competitors and it’s a hell of a class. Uncle Mo’s offspring include Nyquist (3/1), Mo Tom (20/1) and Outwork (15/1). Legendary trainer Todd Pletcher, who is overseeing Outwork, was quoted as saying, “I can’t remember this strong of a first crop from any stallion”.

Right now, Uncle Mo is charging $75,000 to stud. Fees are locked for a certain length of time. The next time his price tag is updated, you can expect that number to double. If Nyquist or Outwork actually win the derby, then he might even approach a quarter-million.

Why is this so important?

Some of the biggest money in the sport is in breeding. It’s part of the reason that all of these horses compete. But the discovery of a potentially championship winning bloodstock through Uncle Mo signals an invigoration in U.S. thoroughbred racing.

Incidentally, it also creates a rivalry between Uncle Mo and Tapit which couldn’t be more unlikely given that they competed a lifetime apart from one another.

The Kentucky Oaks Has A Special Favorite As Well

The Kentucky Oaks is basically “the Kentucky Derby for girls”. Three-year-old fillies compete over the 1 1/8 mile distance on Friday, May 6th and the favorite in the race is someone truly special from a breeding standpoint.

Rachel’s Valentina will run out of the 11th post in a field of 15 as the 7/2 favorite. She is the daughter of sire Bernardini, and her mother is none other than Rachel Alexandra, widely regarded as one of the five greatest female race horses of all time.

The original favorite for the Kentucky Oaks was Songbird, an undefeated (and frankly unbeatable) filly who came down with a low grade favor a few weeks ago. As a precaution, her handlers took her out of the running.

That’s made Rachel’s Valentina the odds on favorite. Frankly, she is due for a win after placing second at last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and at this season’s Ashland Stakes. Don’t overthink this one. Just bet on Rachel’s Valentina to win.

Who Are The Best Bets To Beat Nyquist?

While I wouldn’t necessarily discredit Exaggerator entirely, he simply doesn’t feel like a rock-solid second favorite. His win at the Santa Anita Derby was blazing fast, but it wasn’t necessarily indicative of anything in particular. Some horses can just cobble together impressive days. So who are the other horses you should be looking at?

MOHAYMEN (10/1 to win Kentucky Derby)

Mohaymen was undefeated until the Florida Derby, winning five races between September 2015 and February 2016. Though he was trounced at the Florida Derby by Nyquist, there is the feeling that a lengthy rest will rejuvenate his spirits. Mohaymen has shown unreal closing speed and is a proven asset with a championship pedigree.

Mohaymen and Nyquist make the most sense to finish first and second if Mohaymen isn’t totally burned out from a heavy prep race schedule. He is the co-third favorite at the 2016 Kentucky Derby along with Gun Runner and Creator, who I’m not necessarily sold on.

Mohaymen will run out of the 14th post next to Nyquist. Unless the Florida Derby completely ruined his competitive psyche, these two are about to wage a brilliant battle.

MO TOM (20/1 to win Kentucky Derby)

One of the skills that is actually passed down through pedigree is something called “route running”. It’s the inherent ability of a horse to find the best line to the finish line while weaving through traffic. Sadly, Mo Tom doesn’t exactly have the best route running skills.

In both the Louisiana Derby and Risen Star Stakes, Mo Tom’s jockey made horrific choices and was forced to hit the brakes down the home stretch as he was basically cut off by other horses.

The problem for bettors is that Mo Tom’s speed and competitiveness is readily visible. He is from the some bloodline as Nyquist, and possesses a ferocious throttle that hasn’t been truly displayed in competition. Learning from mistakes is critical in this sport, and jockey Corey Lanerie has been in the saddle twice for Mo Tom’s disappointing defeats. There’s no way he doesn’t fight to give Mo Tom the best line choice he can.

Mo Tom will run out of the fourth gate, giving him an optimal chance to burn the final corner and sit within the pack.

DANZING CANDY (15/1 to win Kentucky Derby)

Lots of horses are bred for versatility. They’re able to run over multiple surfaces such as turf or dirt, handle variable conditions and can strategically pace difference distances. This allows them to compete in a broader spectrum of races.

Unfortunately, Danzing Candy is not that type of horse. He is all throttle, all the time. If there’s slow conditions then he’s going to run in to trouble. A fast track will play to this frontrunner’s strengths and weather reports for the 2016 Kentucky Derby have been very favorable.

Danzing Candy will run out of the 20th post with Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith in the saddle. This gives him the longest line to run at the Kentucky Derby, but also allows him to hit the gas pedal from the onset to get to the front of the pack. It’s not an impossible task given how the horse prefers to run.

Chasing frontrunners isn’t usually advised when betting on horses, but there’s something admirable in how Danzing Candy completely empties the tank and avoids all sense of strategy. If “balls to the wall” is your kind of tempo, then Danzing Candy is the horse for you.

Tom’s Ready (30/1 to win the Kentucky Derby)

Running in the middle of the pack will be a 30/1 longshot I can’t help myself with. The Dallas Stewart trainee finished 2nd at the Louisiana Derby and has yet to win a stakes race. So why bother here?

Well, for one the odds are attractive but the circumstances are even better. Tom’s Ready is trained by Dallas Stewart, who has engineered two second place finishes at the Kentucky Derby with horses boasting 50/1 odds. Those included Golden Soul in 2013 and Commanding Curve in 2014.

If there’s any screwy trend worth lobbing a chip shot at, it’s Tom’s Ready and Nyquist in an exacta box.

This is horse racing. A lot of wild things can and will happen. At the very least, you know how to burn up the day talking about the big race with your pals. All of your betting options should be built around Nyquist and a personal preference of any horse listed above.

Final Verdict – My favorite bets at the 2016 Kentucky Derby

Now that we’ve got all the water cooler talking points out of the way, here are my favorite bets to make. The way to do it is relatively simple. Take the larger portion of your bankroll and bet straight up on Nyquist to win. It’s the safest bet.

Next, take two smaller lobs and place them on an exacta involving Nyquist and Mohaymen to finish 1st and 2nd in that order. This is a big payout.

I also, for some reason, really like the trio of Uncle Mo’s horses to finish in the top-three (no particular order) using a triacta box.

From my standpoint, these are the best options on the board and they cover most of my bases. Enjoy the race and don’t blink – it’ll be over before you know it.

1. Nyquist to win at 3/1 (straight bet)

2. Nyquist, Mohaymen to finish 1st and 2nd (exacta)

3. Nyquist, Mo Tom and Outwork to finish top-3 (triacta box)

2016 Kentucky Derby – $2,000,000 – Saturday, May 7th (6:34pm EST)
1Trojan NationAaron GryderPatrick Gallagher50-1
2SuddenbreakingnewsLuis QuinonezDonnie Von Hemel20-1
3CreatorRicardo Santana Jr.Steven Asmussen10-1
4Mo TomCorey LanerieTom Amoss20-1
5Gun RunnerFlorent GerouxSteven Asmussen10-1
6My Man SamIrad Ortiz Jr.Chad Brown20-1
7Oscar NominatedJulien LeparouxMichael Maker50-1
8LaniYutaka TakeMikio Matsunaga30-1
9DestinJavier CastellanoTodd Pletcher15-1
10WhitmoreVictor EspinozaRon Moquett20-1
11ExaggeratorKent DesormeauxKeith Desormeaux8-1
12Tom’s ReadyBrian Hernandez Jr.Dallas Stewart30-1
13NyquistMario GutierrezDoug O’Neill3-1
14MohaymenJunior AlvaradoKiaran McLaughlin10-1
15OutworkJohnny VelazquezTodd Pletcher15-1
16ShagafJoel RosarioChad Brown20-1
17Mor SpiritGary StevensBob Baffert12-1
18MajestoEmisael JaramilloGustavo Delgado30-1
19Brody’s CauseLuis SaezDale Romans12-1
20Danzing CandyMike SmithClifford Sise, Jr.15-1