The field for the 2016 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on Saturday, May 7 is set. In the meantime, we continue to breakdown the list of probable entries in search of this year’s winner.
Using Top Rated Sportsbooks BetOnline’s updated futures odds to win this year’s Kentucky Derby, the following is a look at my top favorite, contender and longshot for this year’s most exciting two minutes in sports.
Top Favorite- Nyquist (+350)
At this point it would be hard to pick against this three-year old Kentucky-bred colt given everything he has accomplished in his young racing career. Unless something dramatically changes between now and next Wednesday, he should open as the morning line favorite and he comes into this race with the highest Horse Racing Nation rating in the field at 8.71. Trained by Doug O’Neill, Nyquist has never lost a race in seven previous runs starting with a Maiden Special Weight race as a juvenile.
His biggest career victory to date came on April 2 when he outdueled favored Mohaymen for first place in the Grade 1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park. He also won the Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes after closing-out his two-year old campaign with a victory in the prestigious Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Keeneland in late October.
Top Contender- Destin (+1000)
This three-year old Kentucky-bred colt got off to a slow start in his racing career with finishes in the money in two non-stakes races as a juvenile. In this season’s debut, he faded to fourth in the Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes at Fair Grounds on Jan. 16 over a distance of 1 mile 70 yards. Despite these early results, famed trainer Todd Pletcher still saw Destin as a legitimate Kentucky Derby contender and his patience paid off.
Destin first caught horse bettors’ attention with his victory in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs in mid-February and he established himself as one of the best thoroughbreds in this year’s crop of three-year olds with his impressive first-place finish in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby over a distance of 1 1/16 miles on March 12.
Top Longshot- Lani (+4000)
Bred in Kentucky, but trained in Japan by Mikio Matsunaga, this three-year old colt has been racing under the radar as opposed to most of the other horses in this race. His racing ability has not gone unnoticed with a HRN rating of 8.02, which is the fourth-highest in the projected field. In four events as a juvenile, he finished in the money three times including a win in a Maiden race over an extended distance of 1 1/8 miles.
Lani has yet to race in the United States, but he is coming off an important victory in the Grade 2 UAE Derby at Meydan in Dubai on March 26 over a distance of 1 3/16 miles. What I really like about this horse is the value in his longshot betting odds as compared to his proven ability on the track.
Futures Odds for Other Notable Horses
Exaggerator is second on BetOnline’s list at +600 betting odds to win, but he is well down the list when it comes to his HRN rating of 7.72. The third-choice on the futures list to win would be Mor Spirit at +850. His HRN rating stands also stands at 7.72 and he is ranked eighth when it comes to prep race points with 84.
After Nyquist, the next highest rated horse to consider as a betting pick in the running for the Kentucky Derby title by HRN is Gun Runner at 8.44 and he comes into this race with the most prep season points (151) of any Derby horse. Despite both of these lofty numbers his futures odds to win are set at +1200. Mohaymen was everyone’s favorite before his loss in the Florida Derby and while he still has the third-highest HRN rating on the board at 8.33, his odds to win are also set at +1200.