Nyquist stormed into the lead on the turn for home and won the Kentucky Derby to become just the eighth undefeated horse to win the Run for the Roses.
With his 1 ¼-length win over Exaggerator on Saturday, Nyquist ran his unbeaten record to 8 for 8 heading into the Preakness in two weeks. The last Derby winner to go into the second leg of the Triple Crown undefeated was Big Brown 2008.
A year after American Pharoah won the Derby on the way to becoming the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years, Nyquist just may be on a similar path. The son of Uncle Mo was the 2-1 favorite in the full field of 20 3-year-olds,
The winning time for 1 ¼ miles was 2:01.31.
Nyquist, named for NHL player Gustav Nyquist, gives owner J. Paul Reddam, trainer Doug O'Neill and jockey Mario Gutierrez their second Derby winner. I'll Have Another won the Derby and Preakness in 2012, but was retired the day before the race with a leg injury.
A crowd of 167,227 saw the race under sunny skies. It's the second largest crowd in Derby history, behind the 170,513 last year that saw American Pharoah win.
With Kentucky Derby favorite Nyquist looking to stretch his unbeaten record to 8 for 8, here's a little unbeaten history to consider in the half-hour before the race goes off:
A total of 26 undefeated horses entered the starting gate for the Derby and seven crossed the finish line and remained unbeaten. The seven, with records after the Derby are Big Brown (2008, 4-0); Barbaro (2006, 6-0); Smarty Jones (2004, 7-0); Seattle Slew (1977, 7-0); Majestic Prince (1969, 8-0); Morvich (1922, 12-0); and Regret (1915, 4-0).
Since Big Brown, four unbeatens started in the Derby and came up short - Dortmund (2015, third); Materiality (2015, sixth); Verrazano (2013, 14th); and Gemologist (2012, 16th).
A scary two-horse spill has taken place during the running of the $500,000 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic, the race before the Kentucky Derby.
The jockeys of both horses were thrown to the turf, but they stood up and walked away, apparently unhurt. An initial medical report says Jose Lezcano aboard Triple Threat and Paco Lopez aboard Kasaqui are OK.
An official report on the horses said neither was injured, but both were taken by horse ambulance to their respective barns for further examination.
The spill took place around the far turn, when it appeared Kasaqui clipped heels with the horse in front of him, and fell to the ground, rolling over but getting back on his feet. Triple Threat was running behind Kasaqui and stumbled over him. Both riders went to the turf, were helped up and taken away by ambulance as a precaution.
Divisideo, ridden by Edgar Prado, won the race by a neck over World Approval. The winner paid $15.40 on a $2 bet.
Neither jockey has a mount in the Derby.
It was absolutely pouring rain over the past few minutes, about 1 ½ hours before the start of the Kentucky Derby.
The wind was gusting as sheets of rain fell and the huge crowd tried to take cover with little success.
The rain let up after about 10 minutes, and the sun is out, but the National Weather Service recently said strong storms with gusty winds and some hail is moving into the Louisville metro area. It also said pea-sized hail was reported in Lyndon, about 10 miles from Louisville.
It's a day to be seen, and a whole bunch of athletes and celebs showed up for a walk along the red carpet at Churchill Downs before the Kentucky Derby.
Among them were Lady Antebellum, Star Jones, Don Lemon, JD Shelburn, Jordan Smith and Dean Norris. Athletes included Ramon Sessions (Washington Wizards),
Lorenzo Mauldin, Breno Giacomini and Bilal Powell (New York Jets), Eric Wood, Richie Incognito (Buffalo Bills) and Cooper Helfet (Seahawks).
Trainer Jorge Navarro is the king of upsets on the Derby undercard.
He saddled Catalina Red to a 14-1 surprise in the $500,000 Churchill Downs Stakes.
Three races later, Navarro was back in the winner's circle after Sharp Azteca took the Pat Day Mile for 3-year-olds at 13-1.
It was the third straight win for Sharp Azteca, who was making his stakes debut. The colt broke alertly under Edgard Zayas and took up the chase in second as Imperial Hint set a blazingly fast pace.
When the leader faltered turning for home, Sharp Azteca took command. He was never seriously threatened in the lane, rolling to a 2 ½-length victory over Forevamo to pay $28.20. The time was 1:34.37.
The race is named for the retired Hall of Fame jockey who won the 1992 Derby on Lil E. Tee.
What Camelot Kitten couldn't see certainly didn't hurt his chances in the $300,000 American Turf for 3-year-olds.
Trainer Chad Brown added blinkers and the colt responded with an 18-1 upset, edging Beach Patrol by a head.
Blinkers restrict a horse's field of vision, often improving their focus. Camelot Kitten was certainly on his game, picking up his second victory in five starts.
He paid $39.40 to win.
Irad Ortiz Jr. was aboard for the 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.13.
Camelot Kitten is owned and bred by Ken and Sarah Ramsey who paid a $200,000 supplement to run Oscar Nominated, another of their 3-year-olds, later this afternoon in the Derby.
Thunderstorms are rumbling toward Louisville and rain is quite possible around post time for the Kentucky Derby.
According to The Weather Channel, there's a 90 percent chance of rain at the 6 p.m. hour, and a 60 percent chance at the 7 p.m. hours. Post time is set for 6:34 p.m.
Derby weather the past two years has been clear and the track labeled fast. In 2013, Orb won over a rainy, sloppy track.
If it rains, among the beneficiaries could be unbeaten favorite Nyquist, Exaggerator, Outwork and Brody's Cause.
For now, a huge crowd that could top 150,000 is basking in warm, breezy conditions.
3: 17 p.m.
The improving Taris rolled to a 5 3/4 length win in the $300,000 Humana Distaff.
The victory was her third in the last four races - all stakes in different regions of the country starting at Aqueduct in the Go For Wand and continuing on to Santa Anita for the La Canada.
Stonetastic set the pace in the seven-furlong race with Taris never worse than third. She collared the leader in the lane and drew off to her eighth win in 13 starts.
The 5-year-old trained by Simon Callaghan and ridden by Flavien Prat paid $8.40 to win.
Stonetastic held on for second with Enchanting Lady third. Wavell Avenue, winner of last year's Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, was fourth.
Winning time 1:21.03.
Tony Graham craned his neck to try to get a glimpse of the celebrities walking the red carpet.
Graham came to Kentucky from Ohio for his first Derby, and figured he should see a celebrity or two. He wasn't looking for anyone in particular, and didn't recognize most of the people who wandered by.
"There was the dude that was in the Transformers," he said. "But I have no idea what his name is."
He exchanged celebrity gossip with others in the crowd. A rumor started circulating that Lady Gaga would soon appear. She never did.
He shrugged, then spotted a woman on the red carpet in a big blue hat and exclaimed.
"That's Gayle King. Ohhh! That's totally worth seeing."
No matter what happens in the Kentucky Derby, trainer Steve Asmussen has appreciated this year's stay a little more than the others.
The feeling is understandable considering he has two contenders in Arkansas Derby winner Creator and Louisiana Derby winner Gun Runner.
Asmussen was also selected last week for racing's Hall of Fame, an honor he said has made him reflect on his career.
"I'm very grateful for the opportunity," the 50-year-old said this week. "We realize how blessed and fortunate we are able to be given horses with their physical (ability) and that pedigree."
The hard part is the all-day wait to see how it turns out.
This is the 10th Derby for Asmussen. His best finish was a second with Nehro in 2011. His horses are 0 for 13.
Catalina Red pulled a 14-1 upset in the $500,000 Churchill Downs Stakes for sprinters, the seventh of 14 races on the Derby day card.
The 4-year-old, making his first start for trainer Jorge Navarro, was largely overlooked despite a recent win against state breds at Tampa Bay Downs.
He was always a factor in the Churchill Downs, laying third as Limousine Liberal and Holy Boss set the pace. Catalina Red and jockey Javier Castellano took charge in midstretch and held off Calculator by a length.
The 4-year-old son of Munnings improved to 5 for 10 with the richest victory of his career, and his first win outside Florida.
Catalina Red rewarded his backers with a $30.20 win payoff.
The time was 1:20.79 for seven furlongs.
For a change, Ted Cruz didn't have much to say. Not even a pick for the Kentucky Derby.
Days after suspending his presidential campaign, the Texas senator showed up with his wife at Churchill Downs.
He got off the elevator at The Mansion, the track's most exclusive section near Millionaires Row.
Cruz said he's at the Derby to have a good time, and declined to be interviewed. His wife, Heidi, repeated "no media interviews today, no media interviews today," as the couple ducked through a door, blocked by security guards, into the private club.
Tepin is the queen of the grass runners following another impressive win in the $300,000 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile.
It was her sixth straight stakes victory, including a decisive win over males last October in the Breeders' Cup Mile. The consistent 5-year-old trained by Mark Casse improved her career mark to 11 for 19. She won this race last year as a 9-1 long shot.
Those days of cashing a big ticket on Tepin are long gone. She paid $2.60 to win as the overwhelming 1-5 favorite.
Rainha Da Bateria finished second, 3 1/4 lengths behind the winner.
Julien Leparoux was aboard the winner, covering the mile in 1:34.36
Derby day weather is holding out, but it's a long way before the Run for the Roses. The forecast is calling for isolated thunderstorms with a high temperature of 81 degrees. There's a 30 percent chance of rain. Currently, it's partly cloudy with winds from the west up to 17 mph.
Some Derby weather nuggets:
- The average high for May 7 is 75 (record 89 in 1940); the average low is 54 (record 36 in 1989); average rainfall is .18 inches (record 4.6 inches in 1961).
- 94 degrees was the warmest, May 2, 1959 (Tomy Lee)
- 47 degrees was the coldest, May 4, 1935 (Omaha), May 4, 1957 (Iron Liege); the record cold in '57 was accompanied by north winds between 20-25 mph
- 2.31 inches of rain was wettest, May 11, 1918 (Exterminator).
They ran the American Pharoah as the fifth race, an allowance optional claimer won by appropriately named Hesinfront ($17.80). The winner, trained by Dale Romans, ran his record to 5-for-5 this year.
And they're off and racing at Churchill Downs on Derby day.
In the third of 14 races on the program, the American Pharoah Triple Crown team of owner Ahmed Zayat and trainer Bob Baffert sent out Jazzy Times for an easy win in his debut. Zayat bought the son of Discreetly Mine for $460,000.
Jazzy Times was ridden by Javier Castellano. The 6-5 favorite, the colt returned $5 for a $2 win bet. Winning time for the 6 ½-furlong race was 1:15.21.
Baffert sends out Mor Spirit in the Derby later Saturday.
Rocket Time ($5.20) won the opening race Call the Colonel ($38.60) took the second.
Nothing like the Stanley Cup showing up on the backstretch at Churchill Downs the morning of the Kentucky Derby.
That's exactly what happened early Saturday, when NHL officials brought the championship trophy to the barn of Derby favorite Nyquist.
The horse is named for Detroit Red Wings forward Gustav Nyquist, a player Nyquist owner J. Paul Reddam admires but has not yet met. Reddam, who grew up in Windsor, Ontario, is a Red Wings fan.
Nyquist trainer Doug O'Neill stood by his unbeaten horse and they posed with the Stanley Cup. At one point, Nyquist stuck his nose into the cup.
Reddam also has named horses after other Red Wings players, including Pavel Datsyuk, Niklas Kronwall, Petr Mrazek and Henrik Zetterberg. Detroit is out of the playoffs, currently in the second round.
Post time for the Derby is 6:34 p.m.