02/10/2016 10:56AM

Jerardi: Nyquist's numbers say it could be a rocky season

Benoit & Associates
Nyquist, who makes his 3-year-old debut Monday in the San Vicente at Santa Anita, put together a Beyer series of 84-89-82-79-89 at 2.

As the unbeaten Nyquist – with the weakest set of Beyer Speed Figures for a 2-year-old champion in memory – gets set for his 3-year-old debut in the San Vicente Stakes on Monday at Santa Anita, I took a look back at recent history to check out accomplished 2-year-olds with similar profiles to see how they did as 3-year-olds. Not to spoil the fun, but the short answer is not very well.

Nyquist ran five times last year, once in a maiden race, once in a Grade 2, and three times in Grade 1 races, including the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. The colt was 7-1 in his debut and 9-2 in the Breeders’ Cup. He was favored in his other three starts, odds-on twice. Three times the colt won by less than a length. His Beyers were 84, 89, 82, 79, and 89.

If you judged Nyquist just by how he ran in the Breeders’ Cup and not how slowly he ran, you would have to be impressed. He overcame a very difficult trip and never stopped trying. There is something to be said for that. There is also something to be said about a colt who could not hit 90 on the Beyer scale. And if history is the guide, it is not going to be positive in 2016.

Over the last 20 years, there are four clear comparisons, the most obvious being Shanghai Bobby in 2012 and 2013. The colt was an unbeaten 2-year-old champion who raced five times, with a Grade 2 win and two Grade 1 wins, including the BC Juvenile. Shanghai Bobby’s 2-year-old Beyers were 68, 93, 88, 94, and 82 in the BC Juvenile, the last a clear tip-off that 2013 was going to be nothing like 2012.

Shanghai Bobby made his 3-year-old debut in the Holy Bull Stakes and ran well, getting a 100 Beyer when second to Itsmyluckyday. He tired badly in the Florida Derby, finishing fifth behind Orb and getting an 80. He won a small stakes that fall with a 92 and never ran again.

Hansen was unbeaten in three starts as a 2-year-old in 2011. He won his maiden, an ungraded stakes, and the BC Juvenile with Beyers of 89, 80, and 94.

Hansen’s 3-year-old season was less than perfect. He got a 96 Beyer when second in the Holy Bull, a 95 in winning the Gotham Stakes, a 96 when second in the Blue Grass Stakes, an 86 when ninth behind I’ll Have Another in the Kentucky Derby, a 97 when he blew away the field in the Iowa Derby, and a 90 in his finale, a fourth in the West Virginia Derby.

By the numbers, Hansen never really moved forward from his best 2-year-old form, which was never that great to begin with. He was odds-on four times in 2012, winning two and losing two. He also lost at 6-5.

Action This Day was kind of a freak BC Juvenile winner in 2003 with a 92 Beyer after posting a 74 and a 79 in his first two starts. The horse ran four times on dirt in 2004 without winning. His Beyers were 98, 84, 89, and 87 when sixth at 43-1 behind Smarty Jones in the Derby.

Action This Day ran back in December 2004 on grass and was nowhere. His career ended early in 2005 with an eighth-place finish in the San Fernando Stakes, where he got an 80.

My personal favorite is Answer Lively, the 1998 BC Juvenile winner. I made a big bet on the colt, and he got me started on a huge day that culminated with Da Hoss winning the BC Mile at 11-1. Jerry Bailey gave Answer Lively a perfect trip, sitting third, in the clear, behind two dueling leaders. Answer Lively was two lengths clear at the eighth pole and barely held on to win the race with a 97 Beyer after a series of 97, 100, and 91.

Andrew Beyer and I turned to each other after the race in the old Churchill Downs press box and said in unison that this horse will never win another race. We cashed our tickets and vowed to start betting against.

Answer Lively was 0 for 7 in 1999. To be fair, the colt was not horrible, but he had peaked in the Breeders’ Cup, and we knew it.

Answer Lively began 1999 as the 1-2 favorite in the Lecomte Stakes at Fair Grounds. He was seventh with a 71 Beyer. He actually hit triple digits three times that year, with a 103 Beyer when second in the Louisiana Derby, a 100 when seventh behind Charismatic in the Kentucky Derby, and a 100 when second in the Remington Park Derby. Others had gotten faster, and Answer Lively simply could not keep up, with a 3-year-old series of 71, 95, 103, 85, 100, 100, and 82 when he was sixth in the Super Derby, his final race.

Nyquist certainly could be the exception to this recent history, but given the prices the champ will be in his first start or two, I certainly wouldn’t bet on it. In fact, I may very well be betting against it.

Jeff Lee More than 1 year ago
So adjusting Nyquist's Beyer number for the Breeders Cup Juvenile from an 89  and add 8 points for his gruesome trip you come up with a 97 which is entirely plausible. His San Vicente is also shaded perhaps about 2 points too slow. The day of the Florida Derby didn't have enough route dirt races to give a fair cumulative total from which to derive a variant and the wet weather and the conditions changed dramatically throughout the day. I would approximate that one could easily add 4 to 5 Beyer points onto Nyquist's speed fig that day. So to summarize Nyquist gets an adjusted Beyer fig of 97 for the BC Juvenile, we'll take the 103 fig given for the 7 furlong San Vincente for his first start of 2016(but also acknowledge his impressive fast time of 1:20.3), and add 4 points to his Florida Derby victory for a 98 Beyer. So his last three Beyer figs read as 97, 103, and 98 for the Florida Derby. not so bad.
Jeff Lee More than 1 year ago
When you look at the Brisnet figs and see that they give Exaggerator 4 triple digit figures for his last 4 starts, you'll notice that he only won 2 of those races and was beaten by Nyquist in one of them in the San Vicente at 7 furlongs. If you dig back through Exaggerator's past performances you will also notice that he has raced against Nyquist 3 times and has been beaten off by that rival in all three races. Yet Exaggerator is given the highest class rating out of all the derby starters, with Mo Spirit ranking 2nd and Danzing Candy as the 3rd highest class rating. What a joke. How do they measure class since Nyquist has raced in four grade 1 races and won every one of them. Heck outside of his maiden victory Nyquist has never raced in anything less than a grade 2 and has won every one of them. This horse's class rating should be off the Richter Scale based on his unblemished record, versatility, atheleticism, and sheer will to win!!!
Jeff Lee More than 1 year ago
if you adjust Nyquist's Beyer rating in the BC Juvenile for the wide trip he took the entire way and add two lengths for both turns minimum, that equates to roughly a minimum improvement of 8 Beyer speed points. The Florida Derby rating is slow as there were not enough dirt route races to make a fair average and I would suggest adding at least 2 to 3 Beyer speed points to this rating. As to Nyquist's first start of 2016 in the 7 furlong San Vicente how many 3 year olds let alone older horses run a 7 furlong time as fast as 1;20.3 in the first 60 days of the new year. This was an awesome fast time and indicates Nyquist's athleticism and fleetness of foot. As to the Breeders Cup Juvenile he made me a believer after watching him win a race he had no business winning and overcoming the wide trip and trouble throughout. In this race I swear he ran the equivalent of an extra eighth of a mile to win this race. The thing about Nyquist is his versatility and will to win all of which indicate that he is something very very special. The questions were there about American Pharoah also until he posted the blowout Beyer fig in the Breeders Classic.
Robert Jodoin More than 1 year ago
That's all you need --- for a 'THINKLESS HORSE' to prove all these 'THINKING MEN' wrong. :-)
John Boyes More than 1 year ago
I love these "Monday Morning Quarterbacks " ..................I bet this writer, and I know Andrew Beyer wont step up and say, "whoops we wuz wrong "...........heck, Andrew Beyer is always right ! Isnt he a millionaire from all the money he has won at the track ?............................"NOT "........he drives a Yugo and still wears bell bottoms !
ed More than 1 year ago
DJ is not a bad voice to listen to. It is only Feb. and miles and miles 1/4 to go before the Derby. Nyquist"s races were nice wins, but the Beyer's were so so. BUT they pay on the odds and not the Beyers. The Beyers are a betting factor, but they can be so wrong. Oxbow's 106 in the Preakness? No way. If you win the Derby, it's a 106 unless you do something exceptional. His new theory of adding 3 points to turf races is just a new theory. If I take a stab in the futures, I will throw in Nyquist just on heart alone.