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Favorite Nyquist wins the Kentucky Derby; trainer Doug O'Neill captures second Derby in four years

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Favored Nyquist was on the lead for much of the race, burst in front as the field turned for home and scored a length and a half victory over Exaggerator in the 142nd Kentucky Derby on Saturday at Churchill Downs.

Trainer Doug O'Neill had a quiet confidence about him since arriving at Churchill Downs with the favorite - Nyquist - one week before the running of the 142nd Kentucky Derby.

O'Neill, who had been to the Kentucky Derby winners' circle in 2012 with I'll Have Another, said the day he arrived it was a matter of keeping Nyquist happy and keeping everyone around him loose.

Well, it worked.

Team O'Neill went bowling at The Sports and Social Club on Fourth Street, they took in a few of the Derby parties, they drank Tequila the morning of the race and they stayed calm.

"Sometimes you need to relax and get the edge off," O'Neill said with a smile.

Nyquist did the rest. The undefeated son of Uncle Mo was super impressive as he held off Exaggerator to win by one and one-quarter lengths in 2:01.31 to push his career record to 8-0.

"He's just special," O'Neill said. "He's a special horse and I think you saw that again."

Ridden by Mario Gutierrez, Nyquist became the eighth unbeaten winner in the race’s 142-year history. He paid $6.60, $4.80 and $3.60 as the 2-1 favorite in the full field of 20 horses.

It was the second Derby in four years for the connections, including owner J. Paul Reddam. They all teamed for I'll Have Another, who went on to win the Preakness Stakes and was scratched before the Belmont.

It was a perfect trip for Nyquist over a fast track at Churchill.

The colt broke from the No. 13 post position, sat just behind speedster Danzing Candy and then went to the front on the turn for home. He was with Gun Runner out in front but then pulled clear.

He had to hold off Exaggerator in the end.

"Amazing," O'Neill said. "This is sweeter than the first time. This is something special."

Nyquist will try to become the second straight Triple Crown winner after American Pharoah ended a 37-year drought last spring. He'll travel to Baltimore early next week to train for the May 21 Preakness Stakes.

Nyquist is named for NHL player Gustav Nyquist.

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