12/14/2015 4:25PM

Road to the Derby analysis: Breeders' Cup Juvenile

Barbara D. Livingston
Nyquist wins the Breeders' Cup Juvenile by a half-length Oct. 31 at Keeneland.

Grade 1, $1,840,000 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, 1 1/16 miles, Keeneland, Oct. 31, 2015
(20 Derby qualifying points for a win, 8 for second, 4 for third, 2 for fourth)

Winner: Nyquist, by Uncle Mo
Trainer: Doug O’Neill
Jockey: Mario Gutierrez
Owner: Reddam Racing, LLC
Beyer Speed Figure: 89

NYQUIST overcame a wide trip and concern that his form was tailing off by beating all the top candidates for the divisional title, securing an Eclipse Award, and remaining unbeaten in five starts while making his first start outside of California.

His Beyer Speed Figure in the BC Juvenile matched his career high, which he earned in the 6 1/2-furlong Best Pal at Del Mar in August. It was a 10-point jump from his most recent start, the FrontRunner Stakes at Santa Anita, in which he was coming back just 19 days after winning the Del Mar Futurity.

While Nyquist deserves major credit for his perfect record and for showing a new dimension in this race by rallying from off the pace after being on or near the lead in his prior starts, students of time will note he ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.79 compared to Songbird’s time of 1:42.73 – a full second faster – when she captured the BC Juvenile Fillies earlier on the card, though she had a far easier trip.

Nyquist broke from post 12 in the full field of 14. He was bumped by SWIPE at the start, was bumped a few times by ISOTHERM heading into the first turn, had no chance to get over, and was caught five paths wide around the first turn. He never had an opportunity to drop in down the backstretch and thus was caught four paths wide on the far turn, kicked away in upper stretch, and safely held off familiar challenger Swipe to prevail. Considering the ground loss, this was by far his best effort.

Swipe, who finished second – the fourth straight time he had done so vs. Nyquist – veered out at the start and bumped Nyquist, was rated strongly by jockey Victor Espinoza, and dropped back to 11th while able to save some ground on the first turn. He advanced quickly nearing the half-mile pole, drafted behind Nyquist heading into and around the far turn, and could not gain on Nyquist in upper stretch but made headway late while again coming up short. He ran well, but Nyquist so far has his number.

BRODY’S CAUSE, who was third, had no speed and raced near the back of the pack inside Swipe around the first turn. He stayed on the rail down the backstretch and into the far turn, was tipped off the rail, and ended up about three to four paths wide entering the lane. He was slow to change leads in upper stretch and finished well. He was no match for the top two, and he had a far better trip than they had.

EXAGGERATOR, who was fourth, was part of bumping match about 100 yards into the race, dropped over, and got a good spot along the rail turning into the backstretch. He was a bit keen behind horses down the backstretch, was able to get through inside into the lane, was angled off the rail at midstretch, but was outrun by the top three.

COCKED AND LOADED, who was fifth, broke sharply but drifted out a bit early and wound up three paths wide into the first turn, outside and in the clear, in a good stalking position. He moved boldly to go after RIKER and challenge for the lead on the far turn but initially was repelled by Riker. He drifted out in upper stretch, drifted back in through the lane, and was not good enough. He had one of the better trips in this race.

Riker, who was sixth, broke a touch awkwardly but was hustled to the front and led by the time the field reached the first turn. He got the best of UNBRIDLED OUTLAW with three furlongs to go, showed grit to fight off Cocked and Loaded nearing the quarter pole, but gradually tired through the stretch.

GREENPOINTCRUSADER, who finished seventh, saved ground near the back of the pack around the first turn and into the backstretch, lost ground down the backstretch, advanced briefly into the far turn while tipped three paths wide, came under an aggressive ride with three furlongs to go, was fanned about five paths wide into the lane, and made a decent late run. He ran in spots, so I’m not sure what to make of his race. Maybe he needs blinkers?

CONQUEST BIG E, who was eighth, was forwardly placed early inside while just behind Riker, was stuck behind Riker and Unbridled Outlaw while between Exaggerator and Cocked and Loaded down the backstretch, had a clear run with three furlongs to go, but was quickly passed by Nyquist and went evenly the rest of the way.

WATERLOO BRIDGE, who was ninth, broke last and was quickly angled from his outside post toward the rail and was only in front of RATED R SUPERSTAR around the first turn. He dropped back to last with three furlongs to go, was able again to save ground on the far turn, but could not make an impact. Back to turf.

SIDING SPRING, who was 10th, was caught about six paths wide heading into the first turn after breaking from the far outside post but was able to angle in midway on that turn and was about three paths wide entering the backstretch. He then found his way to the rail down the backstretch under extremely clever handling by jockey Luis Saez and was only about three lengths back entering the far turn. He stayed inside around the far turn and didn’t make up any ground through the lane while having to check slightly very late when stuck behind the tiring Riker.

Rated R Superstar, who was 11th, broke awkwardly and was taken back to last early. He made a big brush while about four paths wide on the far turn to get to the middle of the field, was fanned about five paths wide into the lane, then flattened out. He acts like a late-running sprinter.

Unbridled Outlaw, who faded to 12th, pressed the early pace just outside of Riker. He came under an aggressive ride with three furlongs to go to try to hold his position between Riker and Cocked and Loaded, was late to change leads, and then tired. Considering his tenacity in trying to overcome a troubled trip in the Iroquois, this was a huge disappointment.

Isotherm, who was 13th, was bumped a few times while between horses heading into the first turn, raced four paths wide on that turn while inside Nyquist, came under a ride on the far turn, but had nothing to offer and checked slightly near the quarter pole while being outrun. He’s a good turf horse. That looks like his future.

RALIS, who finished last of 14, was another who was bumped several times in the opening sixteenth. He had a forward position on the first turn, just outside Exaggerator, was tipped to the middle of the track down the backstretch, was just inside stablemate Nyquist heading into the far turn, but backed up quickly beginning with three furlongs to go and readily gave way.