The main attractions for the 2016 Pennsylvania Derby were set in stone. This was the eighth clash between Nyquist and Exaggerator, and a chance for both to put recent doubts to rest. Unfortunately, neither were up to the task with a $1.25 million bounty on the line at Parx Racing over the weekend.
Connect was the big winner at the Pennsylvania Derby, paying out $23.20, $9.80, and $7.20 across the board as a longshot. Gun Runner delivered $5.40 and $4.00 in second. Wild About Deb slipped in as the third place horse with 61/1 odds delivering $21.20 to show.
Nyquist fell to 6th, while Exaggerator was 7th after opening the race in second last. It was a disappointing turn of events for the pair to say the least, especially after Doug O’Neill had touted a change in gameplan for the front-running Nyquist. The altered strategy didn’t pan out as he seemed out of sorts down the home stretch and frustrated that he wasn’t in a better position to win. I don’t know if he even had it in him to be honest.
Paul Reddam was a little despondent following the Pennsylvania Derby results. Nyquist is undoubtedly poised for strong career, but his later showings have not gone according to plan in the slightest. Hopes of him competing at the Breeders’ Cup are legitimately fading. “The winner ran well and we didn’t have any apparent excuse,” Reddam said of Nyquist. “We’ll have to check the horse over and make sure that he’s well and we’ll work from there. That was definitely the worst performance of his life, so that’s not how you want to go into the Breeders’ Cup. Maybe it’ll somehow look different tomorrow, but I’m not sure how.”
The same is likely expected of Exaggerator. The two have now gone from having the biggest rivalry in the sport, to having one of the least interesting. How they both regroup and resolve their recent issues is pivotal to their futures, but it’s impossible to stay uplifted about their chances for the balance of the 2016 campaign after such sour showings in the Pennsylvania Derby.