04/04/2016 11:50AM

Nyquist snags bonus in its first year

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A massive bonus offered by Fasig-Tipton to its sale graduates paid major dividends in its first year – both for Gulfstream Park and the horse in question.

When Fasig-Tipton moved its Florida sale of select 2-year-olds in training to Gulfstream in 2015, it introduced a $1 million bonus for any graduate who went on to win the 2016 Florida Derby at the same track. The incentive scheme lured juvenile male champion Nyquist in from his California base, setting up a salty matchup of unbeaten Kentucky Derby contenders with Mohaymen. Not only did Nyquist post a dominant victory to establish himself as the favorite for the spring classics, his major payday will now make him the richest horse ever to start in the Derby.

Nyquist, now unbeaten in seven starts, earned a $589,000 winner’s purse to push his career earnings to $2,322,600 – already surpassing the $1,719,040 that Snow Chief brought to the 1986 Derby, where he finished 11th. The $1 million Fasig bonus would pad Nyquist’s bankroll to $3,322,600.

“You only got the bonus if you won, right? So, we wouldn’t have come unless we had certainly a decent chance,” owner Paul Reddam said. “We didn’t know at the end of last year that Mohaymen was going to be such a big horse on the radar, and my feeling was, ‘Well, gee, if you’re afraid to go run against someone, how do you really think you have a Derby horse?’ We just stuck to our plan, and I thought if we get beat, we get beat, but we can’t be afraid. If you’re afraid in the business, you’re not going anywhere.”

According to Churchill Downs statistics, Snow Chief is followed on the pre-Derby earnings list by Hansen ($1,623,305, ninth in 2012) and Express Tour ($1,613,515, eighth in 2001). Of the 40 millionaires to start in the Derby, three have won: Street Sense ($1,508,200 in 2007), California Chrome ($1,134,850), and American Pharoah ($1,411,500 in 2015).

Nyquist, from the first crop of champion Uncle Mo, has been offered at public auction three times, each time changing hands for more money. He was a $180,000 purchase by Madison Farm, from the consignment of Paramount Sales, out of the 2013 Keeneland November breeding stock sale as a weanling, then a $230,000 purchase at the following year’s Keeneland September yearling sale by Sutton Place Stables, from the consignment of Dromoland Farm. Prominent 2-year-old trainer and consignor Niall Brennan then offered him at Fasig-Tipton, where Dennis O’Neill, the brother of trainer Doug O’Neill, purchased the colt as agent for Reddam for $400,000.