2016 Kentucky Derby Picks

Profile Picture: D.S. Williamson

D.S. Williamson

April 30th, 2016


Photo: Matt Carter

There's no time like the present to make my Kentucky Derby picks. After going through every single 1 of the 20 entrants, I've come up with my Top 4 finishers for the 2016 Kentucky Derby. It makes no sense to wait until the post-position draw. The only thing that the post-positions will do is make me second guess myself. I've lost more bets on the Derby by second guessing myself than I have by sticking to my guns.

Unless one of my Top 4 choices scratches, be rest assured that I'm going to wager these the way that I have them written down. Exaggerator, my top choice, is going to be my key horse. I like Destin and Nyquist and I also like Mo Tom. I added a list of horses that I'm going to use in my $1 and $2 superfectas. I'm not sure that I'm going to play a trifecta. After looking at how deep the Kentucky Derby field is after Exaggerator, I think that I'd rather put most of my brankroll towards trying to hit the super, a nice exacta, and the win on Keith Desormeaux's horse. Good luck to you on the First Saturday in May!
Win: Exaggerator

I wanted to post Exaggerator's win in the 2015 Delta Downs Jackpot to make my point that this horse can run any style needed in order to win a race. Sure, he might just be a mudder, but at what could end up being overlaid odds, I'm taking a chance that he's much more than that. His Santa Anita Derby win was breathtaking. What's most impressive is that Exaggerator appeared to get stronger as he ran. It was almost as if once Kent Desormeaux got him going, he just wasn't going to stop until Kent D. decided to pull him up. That makes Exaggerator the horse to beat in my estimation.

There's definitely been a lot of talk about the pace possibly not being as fast as it was in some of the prep races. I'm not sure if I agree. Outwork doesn't appear capable of rating as kindly as some may believe. Nyquist can rate, but he'd much prefer to be close to the pace. Danzing Candy has one way to run and one way to win. That's by going right to the front. The pace may not matter all that much to Exaggerator. As his Delta Downs Jackpot win shows, he's perfectly capable of running near the lead.  He's my pick to wear the roses on May 7.
Place: Destin

I understand the knock on this Todd Pletcher trainee that hasn't raced since winning the Tampa Bay Derby on March 12. It's awfully tough to win the Kentucky Derby after a long layoff. But there is so much going for Destin that I have to believe he'll fire his best shot in the Derby. For starters, he's trained by Todd Pletcher who might be the best trainer in the world right now. Secondly, the Kentucky Derby will be Destin's 6th lifetime start. He has the bottom to compete while still having a high upside. Finally, Destin was sired by Giant's Causeway, a horse that could run as far and as fast as he needed to in order to win. He shows 4 works in April and, no doubt, will likely get a work in around 5 to 6 days before the Derby. I think that Destin has a huge shot to win the Kentucky Derby next Saturday.
Show: Nyquist

Check out Nyquist's work on April 23. He's so responsive to the jockey's cues that it's scary. If he were an overlay, higher than around 4 to 1 in the Kentucky Derby, I'd be all over him. But I do feel that he'll definitely be over bet since he's undefeated, trained by a former Derby winning trainer, won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and put a smack down on Mohaymen in the Florida Derby.

All of that aside, Nyquist, based on both of the speed ratings that I use, hasn't run as fast as Exaggerator or Destin in a route race. That makes me pause and really wonder about whether or not he can actually run as fast as he did in the San Felipe Stakes on the First Saturday in May. You can't question his heart or his unbelievable ability to relax near the lead while being shadowed by horses. He's the most professional of any equine in this year's Run for the Roses. That's why I can't leave him out of the Top 3. Unfortunately, there isn't a lot in his past performances telling me that he's the monster horse that his odds are going to imply on Derby Day.
Fourth: Mo Tom

Sure, sired by Uncle Mo and out of a Rubiano broodmare doesn't scream 1/4 miles. Then again, there aren't that many horses nowadays that are bred to run 1 1/4 miles. I think that Mo Tom can get the distance, no problem. I also think that jockey Corey Lanerie, should he ride Mo Tom, isn't going to worry about saving ground in the Derby. Instead, he's gong to allow this talented Tom Amoss trainee to stretch his legs and run around the front runners at the top of the stretch. If the jockey can keep Mo Tom from being cut off somewhere along the race, if this talented horse can get the right trip, he could definitely upset the field in the Kentucky Derby.

Using in the Superfecta

Mor Spirit - Bob Baffert and Gary Stevens...enough said.

Mohaymen - If the Florida Derby was his bounce race, he could come back strong in the Kentucky Derby.

Gun Runner - He's really improved since this past winter. Plus, he's bred to relish  the distance.

Creator - That was one heck of a move to win the Arkansas Derby in his last.

Suddenbreakingnews - I'm a huge fan of this horse. He went 8 wide in the Arkansas Derby and still managed to be the closest to Creator at the wire.

My Man Sam - I think he learned a lot in the Bluegrass Stakes. He could improve enough to get into the superfecta, I think.

Trojan Nation - Out of Street Cry and a Summer Squall broodmare means that Trojan Nation might be the best bred horse in the race to get the 1 1/4 mile distance. I can't leave out.

Shagaf - He learned a lot in the Wood Memorial. If Chad Brown gets this guy to improve on Kentucky Derby Day, he'll have a shot to get into the trifecta and super.


The Kentucky Derby is a week away!  Get in on the BetAmerica Race Contests and ready yourself for the big day!