LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Doug O’Neill, trainer of 3-1 morning-line favorite Nyquist, saw nothing unlucky about post 13. Deep closers drew the four inside spots, with likely pacesetter Danzing Candy on the outside in a field of 20 entered Wednesday for Saturday’s Kentucky Derby.
“I’m very happy with 13,” O’Neill said of his undefeated colt, “and very happy with how well he’s doing.”
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NBCSN couldn’t have been very happy with the performance of oddsmaker Mike Battaglia, who for the 42nd consecutive year made the Derby’s morning line. The former Churchill Downs race caller skipped Outwork when he announced the odds the first time. He also said Oscar Nominated was 20-1, which sent a surprised buzz through the crowd, before correcting himself and saying he was 50-1.
Analyst Jerry Bailey also made a rare mistake early in the show, referring to Outwork as Outlaw.
Besides those gaffes, the pill pull was uneventful, with none of the leading contenders ending up in bad spots. Trojan Nation, 0-for-6 lifetime, got the dreaded rail, which hasn’t produced a winner since 1986. Trainer Dale Romans probably would have preferred somewhere besides post 19 for his late-running Brody’s Cause, but he wasn’t complaining.
“I can see the speed horse [Danzing Candy] dropping over,’’ Romans said. “Maybe we can sit back and let him clear and then see what the rest of the field does.’’
After Nyquist, Battaglia made Santa Anita Derby winner Exaggerator the second choice at 8-1. Mohaymen, Creator and Gun Runner were 10-1, with Brody’s Cause and Mor Spirit at 12-1 and Todd Pletcher’s pair of Destin and Outwork at 15-1 along with Danzing Candy. Also-eligibles Laoban (first preference) and Cherry Wine would draw in if there are any scratches before 9 a.m. Friday.
Romans agreed with O’Neill’s take on Nyquist in 13. “That’s a perfect spot for the favorite,’’ Romans said. “I think he’ll have no excuse from there.’’