It is rare for the top two betting favorites for the Kentucky Derby (G1) to square off in their final prep, but thanks to Fasig-Tipton Mohaymen and Nyquist will battle on Saturday in the $1 million Florida Derby (G1).
A field of 10 will line up with Road to the Kentucky Derby points up for grabs, 100-40-20-10 going to the top four finishers.
Mohaymen is already in the Kentucky Derby field having earned 70 points. The colt has won two Derby points races over the Gulfstream Park main track, taking the Holy Bull (G2) followed by the Fountain of Youth (G2). He is undefeated in five career starts.
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin will give jockey Junior Alvarado a leg up. They will break from the nine post and installed as the even money favorite on the morning line. The colt is the current early betting favorite for the Kentucky Derby at +300 at Mybookie.ag.
“We’re pleased to be outside of Nyquist,” McLaughlin said. “We just wanted to be outside of him, for one, and two, hopefully we’ll stay out of trouble being outside a little bit. It will give Junior an opportunity to ride his race and be out in the clear.”
Nyquist is last year’s Eclipse Award winning juvenile and winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1). He made his three-year-old debut in the San Vicente (G2) at seven furlongs where he won by 1 ½ lengths, now perfect in six career starts.
The colt is 12th in the Road to the Kentucky Derby points standings with 30.
Logically the Doug O’Neill trainee would prep in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) and avoid a confrontation with Mohaymen. However, as a graduate of the Fasig-Tipton sale he is eligible for a $1 million bonus if he wins the Florida Derby, and his connections are going for the dough.
O’Neill said the five weeks between the Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby is perfect for his colt. “We love the five weeks out,” O’Neill said. “That put us strongly on the map for the race. The Florida Derby made all the sense.”
“This is why you get up early and go to the barn – for opportunities like this. To have our colt No. 2 and Mohaymen No. 1 and have that matchup five weeks before the Kentucky Derby is awesome. I think it’s awesome for the sport and exciting for all the connections,” he added.
The colt is the 6-5 second choice on the morning line and will break from the four post with regular jockey Mario Gutierrez aboard. The colt is listed at +500 in early Kentucky Derby betting at Mybookie.ag.
The lineup for the $1 million Florida Derby:
Post Horse jockey/trainer odds
- Sawyers Mickey Spieth/Walder 30-1
- Fellowship Lezcano/Gold 15-1
- Majesto Castellano/Delgado 20-1
- Nyquist Gutierrez/O’Neill 6-5
- Copingaway Vasquez/Mejia 50-1
- Chovanes Zayas/Navarro 30-1
- Takeittotheedge Gaffalione/Romans 20-1
- Fashionable Freddy Juarez/Zito 30-1
- Mohaymen Alvarado/McLaughlin 1-1
- Isofass Leparoux/Abbott 30-1
There is a 14 race card on tap on Saturday featuring seven supporting stakes races, with first post at 12:00 ET.
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