The $1000 Derby Bankroll:
2016 Week 8 Bets

For purchasers of The Lazy Bettor Guide to the Kentucky Derby who are planning to be at beautiful Emerald Downs on Derby day, we head into the major preps with $26 in profits in the pool. That’s not a lot of cash to split, but it’s nice to get a head start out of the gate.

The Florida Derby

Like most bettors, analysts and mystics looking at this race, I see it as a match race between the West Coast invader Nyquist (morning line 6-5) and Mohaymen (1-1). Does one or the other have an edge here? Is the edge large enough to accept very low odds?

Nyquist

With all that speed in his pedigree, nobody should be surprised by his blazing sprint victories. The doubt arises when contemplating whether his speed will shine at a mile and an eighth in the Florida Derby or at a mile and a quarter in Kentucky.

Let’s skip past opinions first and take a gander at the facts—his fractional times in his best 2-turn race:

BC JUVENILE

1:12.80, 1:37.26, 1:43.79
(projected final furlong of :13.26 seconds)

Despite sitting behind a slow pace and launching a late rally, Nyquist failed to put up a superb closing fraction. His final quarter was decent—even above average—but not outstanding.

Will he improve on that performance in the Florida Derby? Or will he finish even more slowly if forced to follow an early pace that’s 5 to 10 lengths faster than the pace of the BC Juvie?

Trainer Doug O’Neill understands what he has here: quality ratable speed. He also understands how that asset can be used to win the Kentucky Derby. That’s why Nyquist‘s BC Juvenile effort, on the surface, resembles the Kentucky Derby victory of O’Neill’s former star I’ll Have Another. This year’s Florida Derby will tell us whether O’Neill, indeed, will have another.

Mohaymen

You’ve already read all the accolades. Let’s cut to the chase…figures for the Holy Bull and Fountain of Youth wins:

HOLY BULL

1:12.52, 1:36.04, 1:42.07
(projected final furlong of 12.06 seconds)

In the Holy Bull Mohaymen ran about the same early pace as Nyquist did in the BC Juvenile, but he absolutely exploded down the lane. The only question here, and it’s a very important one, is whether he can do that when running a more honest Grade 1 pace. Look at his next race, the Fountain of Youth Stakes:

FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH

1:11.10, 1:36.06, 142.84
(projected final furlong of 13.56 seconds)

That’s a resounding “No.” We see that he can run much faster early without completely falling apart late. But we also see how his explosive late kick gets watered down even worse than Nyquist‘s when putting in an honest 6 furlongs early.

The Verdict

The final times of Nyquist’s win in the BC Juvenile and Mohaymen’s time in the Fountain of Youth Stakes show two horses with nearly equal abilities. Unless the odds diverge significantly (such as Nyquist at 9-5 and Mohaymen at 3-5), I don’t see much value on either side.

THE BET: $40 win on Nyquist at 9-5 or higher

Roger LeBlanc