Nyquist enters next weekend’s 2016 Kentucky Derby as the odds on favorite to win. From there, it’s entirely possible that Nyquist wins again and sets himself up for a shot at winning the Triple Crown – sweeping horse racing’s most prestigious event that includes jaunts in the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes.

Naturally, three main questions take front and center heading into this year’s Kentucky Derby – the first leg of the Triple Crown: can Nyquist win the Kentucky Derby, will that propel him to a full sweep of the Triple Crown and if not, who else can get it done?

Nyquist’s Kentucky Derby Bid

The first step is taking a look at Nyquist’s chances of winning the first leg of the Triple Crown, which would be this Saturday’s 142nd Kentucky Derby. Vegas says it will probably be so, as the undefeated champion is slated to step foot at Churchill Downs with strong 10-3 odds. He’s the favorite, he hasn’t lost, and the last three undefeated horses to enter the Kentucky Derby did in fact move on to the second leg of the Triple Crown with their record unscathed.

Of course, history can be tricky and being a favorite does not guarantee a thing. Worse yet is this field, which is painfully strong for any horse racing bettor. A quick dart at the odds tells you that, as 10 other horses enter the weekend with odds of 20-1 or far better.

On top of the accompanying odds, Nyquist actually has some seriously stiff competition ready to take him down. Exaggerator, Mohaymen and Gun Runner are probably his top three threats and all have the talent, training and experience to really make some noise. We still like Nyquist to pull off the Kentucky Derby and give us a shot at a repeat Triple Crown champion, but how likely is that, really?

Repeat Champion?

History tells us it probably won’t happen. We hadn’t seen a Triple Crown sweep since Affirmed back in 1978, and while Affirmed was the second of back-to-back Triple Crown winners in 1977 and 1978, that was the only time in the event’s history that we’ve ever seen the impossible happen two years in a row.

To put it further in perspective, the Triple Crown wasn’t completed in 37 years and since the first champion back in 1919, we’ve seen the event swept a grand total of 12 times. The odds of a horse winning another Triple Crown within the next 10 years might not be great. Banking on Nyquist – or any other horse, for that matter – winning it for the second straight year might be a serious pipe dream.

That doesn’t kill the hype or joy associated with trying to predict or pick a potential winner. It just makes it very unlikely to actually happen.

Other Contenders

That being said, it could happen and if it does, it’s very possible it comes from a horse other than Nyquist. So, if Nyquist can’t win the Kentucky Derby and go on a crazy Triple Crown run, what other horses can? There is first the thought of which of these horses have the best chances of winning this first particular race, there is the argument over which sleepers could pull off the upset and then, quite naturally, there is the question of the Triple Crown feat.

If you’re looking for safety and logic, you’re looking at a four-pack of Nyquist, Gun Runner, Exaggerator and Mohaymen. They have strong odds, they’re well trainer, they’re talented and they have solid experience. They all have mild flaws, and it’s still very arguably Nyquist is the cream of that crop. However, if an upset looms, it’s likely coming from that secondary trio of colts.

There is the thought of a sleeper with extra fun odds. If you want to make a play on someone who will provide a nice payout, perhaps horses like Creator (20-1), Suddenbreakingnews (16-1) or My Man Sam (25/1) should be considered.

Suddenbreakingnews has a great pedigree and won the Southwest Stakes, while also possesses great power and the ability to hunt down distance. My Man Sam is one of the more inexperienced colts on display, but we can’t discount him, as he’s got a win and two second place finishes in limited action and also displayed the ability to rally. He could be a true sleeper just because we don’t know all that much about him and he could come out of nowhere late.

The other horse to consider could be Creator, who has done quite well with 7 top-three finishes in eight career races. Creator crushed the Arkansas Derby and has shown the ability in different spots both to rally and close. All three of these horses have fun odds and could spell trouble for Nyquist and the other top contenders. Of the sleepers, Creator has a mysticism that produces wonder.

That being said, can any of the main contenders or the sleepers make a Triple Crown run if they do upend Nyquist? It’s doubtful. Nyquist has an unblemished record and has a truly remarkable resume when you think about it. He should win and Vegas knows it. If he doesn’t, it will be a shocker and the Triple Crown is certainly be spiced up quite a bit. It’d be a shame, though, as Nyquist is quite easily our best bet at another Triple Crown sweep in 2016.

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