Mohaymen listed at even-money, Nyquist 6-5 in Florida Derby showdown

Profile Picture: James Scully

March 30th, 2016

Saturday’s $1 million Florida Derby (G1) features an unprecedented match-up in the final Kentucky Derby (G1) prep race between unbeaten leading contenders on both coasts, with Nyquist shipping east to face Mohaymen at Gulfstream Park.

As part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series, the Florida Derby awards points on a 100-40-20-10 scale to the top four finishers.

Mohaymen, who stretched his record to 5-for-5 with facile wins in the Holy Bull (G2) and Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream, is listed as the even-money favorite on the morning line. Regular rider Junior Alvarado has the call on the gray Tapit colt for Kiaran McLaughlin.

Nyquist capped his championship juvenile campaign with a victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Keeneland and will bring a 6-for-6 mark into the Florida Derby following a smart 1 ½-length tally in the 7-furlong San Vicente (G2) at Santa Anita on February 15. Trained by Doug O’Neill, the bay colt hails from the first crop of record-setting freshman sire Uncle Mo and Mario Gutierrez retains the assignment.

By virtue of selling for $400,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Florida 2-year-old sale at Gulfstream last March, Nyquist is eligible for a $1 million bonus for winning the Florida Derby, the incentive for his participation.

Eight other horses were entered for the 1 1/8-mile race, including Fellowship, a late-running third in the Holy Bull and Fountain of Youth, but the top two contenders lay over the competition on paper.

And with little other pace entered, Nyquist figures to be on or very close to the lead from the start after breaking from post 4.

Mohaymen, who starts from post 9, has the tactical speed to race in the first flight behind his main rival before offering his best.

The Florida Derby, which anchors a 14-race card that includes seven other stakes, promises to be very exciting, indeed.

Florida Derby field photo courtesy of Adam Coglianese