The betting world has spoken: Nyquist is the clear favorite to win this year's race at Churchill Downs. Before Saturday, Nyquist had 3-1 odds for winning the Kentucky Derby, and as race day approached the odds increased 2-1, with the second favorite, Exaggerator, at 8-1 odds. But like the 2016 Republican primary, the horse racing world is unpredictable and devoid of standard logic, and as the excitement surrounding the Derby mounts, so have the doubts that the favorite will be able to pull off a win. Will Nyquist win the Kentucky Derby? The horse has its doubters.
As Sports Illustrated notes, the race isn't exactly wide open for anyone to wage a massive upset. Nyquist is faster and in much better physical shape than many of the other contenders, so the chances of an all-out long shot shaking things up isn't likely. But the Derby is about more than the horse. It's a crowded field, and so pacing can play a huge factor. If Nyquist happens to get trapped, or tired out, as Sports Illustrated notes, it could open the door for a number of different horses to take the lead. But will that scenario actually happen? It doesn't look like it.
The New York Times seems to be the highest-profile naysayer, and mostly because of a numbers game. If Nyquist wins, it would be the fourth year in a row that the morning-line favorite, or the horse that has the best betting odds the morning of the race, won the Kentucky Derby. The Times calls that a "statistical anomaly."
As the paper also notes, Nyquist comes from a line of horses who prefer shorter distances and is untested when it comes to the quarter, which is the Derby distance. He's only had two test races this spring, which could mean that he could have a jittery start.
Meanwhile, experts are looking to second-favorite horse Exaggerator, who shows promise on longer distances and has been touted as an explosive competitor that could possibly take down the top competitor. In order to win, Nyquist must be able to overcome his tendency for shorter distances and keep up the pace through the end. If statistics are any lesson, Nyquist won't be able to pull off the fourth year in a row for a morning-line win. But if you're putting your money (and hopes) on any competitor, I'm betting on Nyquist to pull this one off.