Nyquist draws No. 13 post as early 3-1 Kentucky Derby fav

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Nyquist has been made the early 3-1 favorite for the 142nd Kentucky Derby, with Exaggerator the second choice in the full field of 20 horses.

Trained by Doug O’Neill, Nyquist is undefeated in seven career races. The colt drew the No. 13 post on Wednesday. Four horses have won from there since 1900, most recently Smarty Jones in 2004. O’Neill, jockey Mario Gutierrez and owner Paul Reddam teamed to win the race in 2012 with I’ll Have Another.

Nyquist broke from the No. 13 post when he won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last year at Keeneland.

“The post draw didn’t matter to us a ton but we’re happy being more toward the outside for sure,” O’Neill said. “The whole team is pumped up. We’re just very optimistic for a big day.”

Exaggerator drew the No. 11 post and is 8-1 for the 1 1/4-mile race Saturday at Churchill Downs. He’s trained by Keith Desormeaux, whose Hall of Fame brother, Kent, will be aboard.

Creator, Gun Runner and Mohaymen are the co-third choices at 10-1. Creator will break from the No. 3 post with Gun Runner in the No. 5. Both are trained by Steve Asmussen. Mohaymen drew the No. 14 post.

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Mor Spirit, trained by four-time Derby winner Bob Baffert, will break from the No. 17 post. No horse has won from there in the race’s previous 141 editions. Mor Spirit is 12-1, the same odds as Brody’s Cause, who drew No. 19.

Last year, Baffert won with American Pharoah, who swept the Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes to win the sport’s first Triple Crown in 37 years.

“The last time I had the 17 post was Point Given with Gary Stevens (fifth in 2001), and here we are again,” Baffert said. “I wanted the 16. All the speed is on the outside, so there will probably be two different races going on.”

The dreaded No. 1 spot that pins a horse to the inside rail coming out of the gate went to Trojan Nation, who has yet to win a race. Along with Trojan Nation, the other horse listed at 50-1 is Oscar Nominated, whose owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey put up a supplemental fee of $200,000 to get him into the race.

That fee boosted the Derby purse to $2,391,600 if 20 horses start. The winner would receive $1,631,000.

Japan’s entry, Lani, is listed at 30-1. The horse is known to be unpredictable in starting gate, and he will break from the No. 8 post.

Native River gets wire-to-wire win in Cheltenham Gold Cup

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CHELTENHAM, England (AP) Native River delivered an exhibition in front-running to outlast favorite Might Bite in a thrilling duel to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Britain’s most prestigious jumps race, on Friday.

Ridden by champion jockey Richard Johnson, 5-1 shot Native River took the lead right from the start and was never passed in the race over 3 miles and 2 1/2 furlongs in front of a crowd of 70,000.

After they jumped the last fence, Native River and Might Bite were neck and neck, but Johnson got a kick out of the Colin Tizzard-trained horse on the uphill finish and Native River won by 4 1/2 lengths – a year after finishing third in the race.

For Johnson, it was a second victory in the Gold Cup – 18 years after his first on Looks Like Trouble.

“It’s been a long 18 years,” Johnson said. “To be honest, I was a passenger.

“The more I asked from him, the better he jumped.”

Might Bite’s handler, Nicky Henderson, was looking to become the first trainer to capture the Cheltenham Festival’s three signature races in the same year – the Champion Hurdle, the Champion Chase, and the Gold Cup.

It was Might Bite’s first defeat over fences, and Henderson said the heavy going didn’t do the horse any favors – especially against a rival who is a past winner of the Welsh National and the Hennessy Gold Cup

“It was the right thing to track Native River because no other horse got into the race, he had to be in the right place,” Henderson said of the 4-1 favorite.

“On better ground, stamina wouldn’t have been an issue. But in that ground you have to work so much harder. The winner is a Welsh National winner and the reason I’ve never won that race is because I can’t find horses that go in that ground.”

Native River won his owners 369,822 pounds ($515,000).

Anibale Fly, a 33-1 shot, was third.

Jockey Ruby Walsh to miss rest of Cheltenham Festival

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CHELTENHAM, England (AP) Jockey Ruby Walsh will miss the remainder of the Cheltenham Festival after aggravating a leg injury when falling off his horse during the RSA Insurance Novices’ chase on Wednesday.

Walsh, the most successful jockey in the festival’s history with 52 wins, had only recently returned to competition after a four-month layoff due to a broken leg. He was taken to a hospital for X-rays and his sister Jennifer said in a statement that “unfortunately he has aggravated a recent leg injury and will see his consultant in Dublin next week for further assessment.”

Walsh had been set to ride Killultagh Vic in Friday’s Gold Cup.

On Wednesday’s second day of the festival, Altior extended his unbeaten record over jumps to 13 in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase.

Altior had a slow start eventually powered seven lengths clear of the Willie Mullins-trained Min.

It was also a good day for trainer Gordon Elliott who took home three wins, headlined by Samcro in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.

The 8-11 favorite beat Black Op by two and three-quarter lengths.