05/09/2016 12:50PM

At $400k, Nyquist was a bargain


Nyquist, the Kentucky Derby winner and 2015 champion juvenile male, could have been had by anyone willing to be the highest bidder on three separate occasions.

Pinhooking, buying a horse to resell for a profit, is an integral part of the Thoroughbred auction business, with major markets for buying weanlings to sell as yearlings and yearlings to sell as 2-year-olds. Sometimes, a horse tags all three bases at auction – weanling, yearling, and 2-year-old. From that small sliver of the Thoroughbred population is a smaller sliver that goes on to test the Triple Crown races. Then there’s Nyquist.

Bred in Kentucky by Summerhill Farm, the first-crop son of Uncle Mo sold as a weanling to Madison Farm for $180,000 at the 2013 Keeneland November breeding stock sale. The following year, Nyquist was entered in the Keeneland September yearling sale, where he was purchased by Sutton Place Stables for $230,000, the seventh-most-expensive Uncle Mo of the sale.

Prominent central Florida horseman Niall Brennan was part of the group that bought Nyquist as a yearling.

“At that stage, I was really liking the Uncle Mos as a group,” Brennan said. “There were several of them that I liked, and I loved the consistency as a sire. They were all the same color, same kind of shape, and had a really nice presence about them. I saw what happened to be Nyquist, and I thought, ‘Damn, this is the best one yet.’ I wanted to buy an Uncle Mo, and this was the best one I’d seen by the sire at the time.”

Nyquist was sent to Brennan’s Ocala, Fla., farm, where he was later joined by eventual Triple Crown prep-race winners Gun Runner – third in the Derby – and Cupid, who won the Rebel Stakes.

“When we got him home, we were never disappointed,” Brennan said. “He was always the star of the class, the epitome of a good horse. He had so much aura and intelligence. Every time you were around him, you just admired him. He was just a great student.”

Nyquist was one of nine Uncle Mo juveniles cataloged in the 2015 Fasig-Tipton Florida sale of select 2-year-olds in training. He turned in one of the better times of a generally slow under-tack show, getting one furlong in 10 2/5 seconds.

“I never try to let my imagination get the better of me, but we felt very, very confident going down there last year that he was one of our best colts,” Brennan said. “We knew we had a nice horse. He did everything so right, and I think one of the benefits of being blessed with having so many good horses over the years is you know you have a good one when you’re around him.

“He breezed very nice, and he did it the right way,” he added. “It wasn’t a stressed, flat-out breeze.”

Nyquist sold for $400,000 to Dennis O’Neill, acting as agent for Reddam Racing. The price tied him for the 16th-highest of the sale and was the second-highest price for an Uncle Mo.

Still, Brennan said he was a bit underwhelmed by the price, suggesting that the colt lost some momentum among buyers on the sale grounds.

“This might sound a little greedy to say I was a little disappointed in the price, but I thought he was a hell of a colt and so popular, I just thought he could have sold for more than that,” Brennan said. “But at the end of the day, you always hear those rumors, somebody didn’t like this or somebody didn’t like that, and then all of a sudden, how many people show up to bid?

“I think they were knocking things on him that were absolutely ridiculous for a racehorse, but that is the reality,” he added. “Now, history shows that Dennis made a tremendous buy.”