05/07/2016 10:07PM

Nyquist stays perfect with Kentucky Derby victory

Barbara D. Livingston
Nyquist, with Mario Gutierrez up, wins the Kentucky Derby to remain unbeaten through eight starts.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - When it comes to winning the Kentucky Derby, trainer Doug O'Neill, owner Paul Reddam, and jockey Mario Gutierrez said they'll have another.

Four years after teaming to win with the longshot I'll Have Another, they won the 142nd Derby on Saturday at Churchill Downs with Nyquist, who remained unbeaten after eight starts and put his name alongside Seattle Slew as the only horses to have won their divisional championship at age 2 and remained unbeaten through a victory in the Kentucky Derby.

Nyquist ($6.60), the favorite, stalked the hot early pace set by Danzing Candy, seized the lead from Gun Runner heading into the lane after Danzing Candy faded, opened a large margin at midstretch and had plenty left to hold off the late run of Exaggerator to win by 1 1/4 lengths before an announced crowd of 167,227, the second-largest crowd in Derby history.

Exaggerator never got past Nyquist on the gallop out.

Gun Runner finished another 3 1/4 lengths back in third, a head in front of Mohaymen, who rallied for fourth after breaking poorly and finding himself farther back earlier than anticipated. The first four finishers were the top four betting choices in the race, and they finished in order of the bettors' preference.

Suddenbreakingnews was fifth and was followed, in order, by Destin, Brody's Cause, Mo Tom, Lani, Mor Spirit, My Man Sam, Tom's Ready, Creator, Outwork, Danzing Candy, Trojan Nation, Oscar Nominated, Majesto, Whitmore, and Shagaf, who was eased a furlong from the wire but walked off under his own power.

Nyquist covered 1 1/4 miles on the fast main track in 2:01.31. There was a brief, strong storm about 90 minutes before the Derby, but it had no impact on the surface on a day where temperatures had risen into the low-80s.

The first two finishers are both based in California at Santa Anita. This marked the third straight Derby win for horses based in California - following California Chrome and American Pharoah - and the fourth win for a California-based horse in the last five years.

:: Kentucky Derby race chart

Nyquist thus becomes the only horse this year who can try to emulate what American Pharoah accomplished last year and sweep the Triple Crown. O'Neill, Reddam, and Gutierrez got close four years ago with I'll Have Another, who won the Derby and Preakness but was scratched on the eve of the Belmont with a career-ending injury.

"You've seen what happened last year. It shows it can happen with a special horse," O'Neill said.

Nyquist certainly is proving to be very special. He won all five of his starts last year at age 2, including the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, and this year beat Exaggerator in the seven-furlong San Vicente at Santa Anita before sending Mohaymen to his first defeat in the Florida Derby. Nyquist has won his eight races at five different racetracks in three states.

Next up, the Preakness at Pimlico on May 21, marking track number six and state number four on the Nyquist Tour.

Reddam named Nyquist for Gustav Nyquist, a forward on the Detroit Red Wings, a National Hockey League team Reddam has been a fan of since growing up just across the river from Detroit in Windsor, Ontario.

Nyquist, a son of the red-hot first-year sire Uncle Mo, was purchased by O'Neill's brother, Dennis, on behalf Reddam for $400,000 14 months ago in Florida at the Fasig-Tipton sale. He made his debut in June, going five furlongs at Santa Anita, and by year's end had won four more races as well as the Eclipse Award.

After the Breeders' Cup, those associated with Nyquist had a meeting and decided to have a sprint comeback to start the year following a break, then to go to the Florida Derby, where Nyquist was eligible for a $1 million bonus. The five-week timeline from the Florida Derby to the Kentucky Derby also had appeal, and it certainly became a factor when Nyquist had a slight case of shipping fever after first arriving at Keeneland following the Florida Derby. This gave him more time to recover.

O'Neill also trains Nyquist a lot easier than I'll Have Another, jogging him more often than he did I'll Have Another and working him less aggressively. That resulted in a horse that was fresh and ready for a top performance Saturday.

Nyquist broke cleanly from stall 13, was in front a furlong into the race, then Gutierrez made the first of several smart, tactical moves. First, he allowed Danzing Candy to clear him just after an opening quarter in 22.58 seconds, then he took up a stalking position through a half-mile in 45.72.

"When he was able to grab a hold and let Danzing Candy go, I said okay," Reddam said. "When I saw 45, that was a little quicker than I liked. We were hoping for a much more moderate pace. But when he got to the far turn, I thought, I like this."

As the field advanced to the far turn, Gun Runner was keen to go on and Gutierrez let him go, without asking Nyquist to move too soon. After six furlongs in 1:10.40, Nyquist was third, just off the leaders, ready to advance, and it looked as though Gutierrez had plenty of horse under him.

"You could see he was going to go by those two," Reddam said, referring to Danzing Candy and Gun Runner. "Then it was a question of the stretch-runners."

Those three pulled away from their rivals around the far turn, and just outside the quarter pole Danzing Candy dropped away, leaving Nyquist and Gun Runner up top through a mile in 1:35.61. Nyquist put away Gun Runner in upper stretch, was up by 2 1/2 lengths with a furlong to go, and went strong to the wire, showing neither the desire to drift out nor change to his incorrect lead, which he had done when the Florida Derby was put away five weeks ago.

It was a thoroughly professional performance from horse and rider, and a testament that the plan mapped out by the team had been executed to perfection by O'Neill.

:: Full list of Kentucky Derby mutuel payoffs

O'Neill, as is his wont, deferred to the team in general, but Nyquist specifically, for this Derby win.

"He's such a special horse," O'Neill said. "You see it in his eye on a daily basis."

"We felt quietly confident coming in," said Reddam, who has had O'Neill as one of his trainers for 12 years. "We were feeding off the trainer."

O'Neill said Nyquist is "the best horse I've trained."

He's certainly the best of this crop, which he has proven over and over and over again. He'll get a chance to add to his legacy in the Preakness, and if he does that, it's back to the Belmont, with a chance for redemption for his connections after the I'll Have Another setback. Improbably, it would come just one year after American Pharoah ended a 37-year Triple Crown drought, marking a chance to for the first back-to-back Triple Crowns since Seattle Slew and Affirmed in 1977 and 1978.

"He's the real deal," Reddam said.

BrownRiggle More than 1 year ago
Seems like my comments are disappearing...lol
randall More than 1 year ago
California based horses have been in charge for the best part of the past decade.  Nothing new.
What is the Beyer number on this win?
Jeffrey Eisenstein More than 1 year ago
103. You can get Beyers for all stakes races by clicking on the stakes results sight of DRF.
gradeonewinner More than 1 year ago
haters going to hate and ainters going to aint. nyquist going to win the preakness.lol

alex More than 1 year ago
California colts finish 1,2 what else is new? How much did you lose Ray Sousa?
gradeonewinner More than 1 year ago
what they did what!

timis88 More than 1 year ago
nice pick up by travis to call exaggerators checkup
cappelletti63 More than 1 year ago
I'll say he's the real deal. My goodness what does a horse have to do around here to get some respect. All he does is win....
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
For me this goes down has the worst derby ever. Not only because I was completely wrong about the outcome . I did not like Nyquist but I would live with the result if not for a few details. First how ridiculously speed biased the track was .no closer had a shot at winning all day. The closers might as well have scratched out of the race.. Despite ridiculously fast fractions 2 of the pace makers held on to finish 1st and 3rd.. Favourites have won  every derby since the new point system was introduced  and  the race has become a boring spectacle usually won by a horse from a barn with multiple drug positives..
Stuart Hill More than 1 year ago
Real Azteca did not come off the pace? C'mon man. Take Nyquist out of the race and Exaggerator wins coming from far back, followed by GR, who ran with guts and heart, followed by 2 other horses that were well off the pace: Mohaymen and SBN. None could get past Nyquist in the gallop out. Give the horse his due! It takes a special horse to kick away after 1:10 for 6f.
Stuart Hill More than 1 year ago
The winner of the Pat Day mile also came from off the pace.
Stuart Hill More than 1 year ago
I meant to say the winner of the Churchill Downs sprint won from off the pace, not the Pat Day. He was pretty close...
Jef Beck More than 1 year ago
sore looser.
Ada Art More than 1 year ago
IDIOT!  Shari seré you looping at all dar!
Edward More than 1 year ago
Balogna. Gunrunner got passed by Exagg. and was about to be passed by Sydden and Mohaymen. The next 4 finishers after Gun runner came form mid-pack or deep off the pace. The only speed bias is that EVERY horse race favors speed. If you do  not yet know that an overwhelming number of horse races are won by a horse that races with-in a couple lengths of the pace, then you are wasting your money at the window. A great closer will almost never beat a great stalker. That is what happened.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Review race 7 churchill downs stakes.  Then rewrite your post about track bias and scratching closers.  Then go away. 
Michael Snyder More than 1 year ago
you are a POOR SPORT and a sore loser. The sport has no place for your ignorance
philcoforde More than 1 year ago
Joel Firsching More than 1 year ago
The classiest owners and trainers are winning all of the recent derbies
Navin Vethanayagam More than 1 year ago
Nyquist's a great horse! Check out his wiki https://www.everipedia.com/nyquist-horse/