The road that leads to the Kentucky Derby will get a little bit hotter on February 15 when a pair of top contenders square off in the 7 furlong San Vicente at Santa Anita.

Unbeaten Juvenile champion Nyquist will make his 3-year old debut in the President’s Day stakes at “the great race place”. On Sunday February 7, the Doug O’Neill trained colt worked a snappy 5 furlongs in 59.20. The conditioner who trained 2012 Kentucky Derby champ I’ll Have Another said the work made him “very happy” as his horse moves toward what he hopes is another run for the roses.

The chief competition for Nyquist could come in the form of a promising three-year old named Exaggerator. Trained by Keith Desormeaux, this son of Curlin worked a sizzling 5 furlongs on February 2 in 58.2, which was the fastest time at that distance on the day. Desormeaux also was pleased with the workout as he politely put it “I can’t ask for any better”.

Given the great works of these two it looks as if a showdown is looming. The bullets may not be flying at Santa Anita on February 15, but the ponies will be.