Heavy favorite Nyqvist came from behind and held off Exaggerator to win the Kentucky Derby on Saturday afternoon before 167,000 fans who packed Churchill Downs for the race’s 142nd edition.
The Derby is often called the greatest two minutes in sports, and this year was no exception. Many fans got soaked during a brief downpour prior to the race, but conditions cleared in time for the main event.
Nyquist stormed into the lead on the turn for home and held on for a 1¼-length win. Danzing Candy held the lead for the majority of the race, but faded late when Nyquist made its push to the finish line.
Nyquist was a 2-1 favorite, having entered the race undefeated. A total of 26 horses have entered the Derby’s starting gate without a loss, Nyquist being only the eighth of which to cross the finish line first. The Derby win puts the horse’s record at 8-0. Gun Runner, the third betting choice at 10-1 odds, came in third.
Jockey Mario Gutierrez picked up his second career win at the Kentucky Derby, having placed first atop I’ll Have Another in 2012. Gutierrez is now the first jockey to win his first two Derby starts. It was also the second Derby win for owner J. Paul Reddam and trainer Doug O’Neill.
Last year American Pharoah won the Derby en route to becoming the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years. According to experts, Nyquist appears to be every bit as strong. The last Derby winner to go into the second leg of the Triple Crown undefeated was Big Brown in 2008.
Nyquist is named for Detroit Red Wings forward Gustav Nyquist. The winning time for 1¼ miles was 2:01.31.
A scary two-horse spill took place during the running of the $500,000 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic, just prior to the Kentucky Derby, but the jockeys involved are reportedly OK. The horses were taken by ambulance to their respective stables for further examination.