The highlight of the Gulfstream Park meeting is the $1 million Xpressbet Florida Derby (G1), a major prep for the Kentucky Derby. A field of 9 three-year-olds contested this 1 1/8 mile trip on Saturday afternoon with 100 “Kentucky Derby Championship Series” points to the winner, under cloudy skies (after earlier rains) and temperatures in the low 90’s. As expected Mohaymen was sent off as the 4-5 favorite, undefeated in 5 starts including the Nashua (G2), Remsen (G2), Holy Bull (G2) and Fountain of Youth (G2). In to challenge him included Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) champion Nyquist as the 6-5 second choice, undefeated in 6 starts and coming off his win in the San Vicente (G2), and 15-1 third choice Takeittotheedge, a debut winner last out.
Jockey Mario Gutierrez sent Nyquist to the lead first time past the stands and he set fractions of 23.60, 47.09, and 1:11.39 while pressed by 125-1 Sawyers Mickey and stalked by 136-1 Chovanes, with Mohaymen settling in fourth but wide throughout. On the far turn Mohaymen moved up to challenge, and almost drawing even with Nyquist at the top of the lane. However, Mohaymen, tiring from the overland trip, faded in the stretch. Nyquist opened up by 2 1/2 lengths at the 1/8 pole getting 1 mile in 1:36.38, and drew off late to win by 3 1/4 lengths over late-running 21-1 Majesto in 1:49.11 over the good main track. It was a length back to deep closer 16-1 Fellowship third, and 4 more to favorite Mohaymen fourth.
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