04/09/2016 9:45AM

Nyquist returns to track for energetic training session

Barbara D. Livingston
Nyquist won the Grade 1 Florida Derby on April 2.

The unbeaten champion Nyquist returned to the track for the first time since his Florida Derby win on Saturday morning at Keeneland, jogging twice around the main track accompanied by a stable pony.

Due to an elevated white blood cell count earlier in the week, this was the first time Nyquist had been allowed to do more than walk in a week – and thus, he was understandably energetic.

"We went out there with the intention to jog one [lap], and if [exercise rider Johnny Garcia] felt we had to go two, we'd go two," assistant trainer Jack Sisterson, who accompanied the colt on the pony, said. "Within the first eighth of a mile jogging him, Johnny looks at me and says, 'We're gonna have to go two.' Initially starting off, he wanted to do more than just jog, but then he relaxed great and took everything in."

Nyquist arrived at Keeneland on April 3, a day after winning the Florida Derby to stamp himself as the clear Kentucky Derby favorite. However, he was limited to walking the shed row this week after routine blood work taken after traveling showed an elevated white blood cell count, which can be indicative of stress or an immune response. The colt showed no external symptoms of illness.

Sisterson said he would confer with trainer Doug O’Neill later on Saturday to determine whether Nyquist would jog or gallop Sunday.