05/08/2016 10:52AM

Watchmaker: Nyquist proves far superior to his contemporaries

Barbara D. Livingston
Nyquist was even more impressive winning the Kentucky Derby than his 103 Beyer Speed Figure would suggest.

Consider these finish positions in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby:

Third, beaten 4 1/2 lengths (was fifth a half-stride past the wire).

10th, beaten 14 1/2 lengths.

12th, beaten 17 lengths.

14th, beaten 18 1/2 lengths.

15th, beaten 20 lengths.

19th, beaten 37 1/4 lengths.


Those were the respective finish positions of Gun Runner, Mor Spirit, Tom’s Ready, Outwork, Danzing Candy, Whitmore, and Shagaf. And what these seven had in common in the Kentucky Derby is they all were within 4 1/4 lengths of the early lead in the first call of the result chart.

Oh yes, there was one other horse involved in the early Derby pace. Nyquist was second in the initial stages, only a half-length off Danzing Candy’s lead.

And that, in a nutshell, is why Nyquist’s Kentucky Derby victory Saturday was so impressive, and so thoroughly deserved. He was the only true survivor of a Derby pace that completely fell apart, and Nyquist did much more than merely survive.

Every other horse involved in the Derby pace either collapsed, or out and out disintegrated. But not Nyquist. He kept on with dogged determination the way champions so often do, and he safely turned back a runner-up in Exaggerator who had this race set up for him on a silver platter. I guess Exaggerator shouldn’t feel bad that even with the aid of such a favorable pace scenario, he couldn’t dent Nyquist. No one has yet. Nyquist is now 8 for 8.

It’s seems so obvious the morning after, but it is still worth stating: Nyquist is just plain better than his contemporaries, and it isn’t really close right now. And even if Nyquist is beaten someday – almost all of the best horses lose eventually if they race often enough – this won’t change. Nyquist’s body of work already makes this established fact.

Personally, I never questioned Nyquist’s talent. I did, however, have serious doubts about his ability to successfully negotiate the Derby’s 1 1/4- mile distance. But he answered that question forcefully Saturday by scoring decisively despite such a demanding trip.

Any more questions? I don’t have any.

Quick notes:

◗Nyquist’s winning Derby Beyer Figure of 103 doesn’t do him justice. I am not in any way saying the number is inaccurate. I have every confidence it is. But that number alone doesn’t reflect how hard Nyquist ran every step of the way. Remember, how a speed figure is earned is as important as the figure itself.

◗People have to stop with the Nyquist and the lack of respect thing. He was a shorter price Saturday than American Pharoah was in his Derby last year. If money wagered isn’t a sign of respect, what is?

◗Colleague Marty McGee noted something very interesting on Twitter. Favorites are now 4 for 4 in the Derby since the Derby points system was introduced in 2013. Is there a connection, or is this just coincidence? I’m not sure yet, but it’s something to think about once the Derby dust settles.

◗It’s funny how the game works. Cathryn Sophia, impressive winner of Friday’s Kentucky Oaks, wasn’t even going to run in the Oaks until Songbird took ill and was forced to miss the race. After being beaten for the first time in the Ashland in her two-turn debut, Cathryn Sophia was targeting the seven furlong Eight Belles on the Oaks undercard. And yet even as good as she was winning the Oaks, given the most impressive way Carina Mia won the Eight Belles, Cathryn Sophia might have had real trouble in that spot.

◗Tepin was brilliant yet again winning Saturday’s Churchill Distaff Turf Mile. There isn’t a better turf miler of either sex in this country right now, which is why the decision to venture to Royal Ascot with her makes great sense from a sporting standpoint.

◗Sea Calisi, winner of Saturday’s Sheepshead Bay at Belmont, is a monster. That is all.

◗Our male turf division is always ripe for plunder from European shippers later in the year. That said, Divisidero’s win in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic, and Ironicus’s score in the Fort Marcy at Belmont, both on Saturday, established them as major players in their division.

◗People claiming Saturday’s Churchill track was speed-favoring must have been watching different races than I saw. There were 10 main track races Saturday, and not a single one of them was won by a front-runner. Not one. If the track was so speed-favoring, you would think there would have been at least one front-running winner. For the record, I though the main track for Oaks Day was fair, too.



john gardner More than 1 year ago
No one will beat Nyquist in the Preakness. Not any other Derby horse, or any new shooter. I think he's the best of a rather ordinary bunch. Now, the Belmont might be another story. I hope they run Suddenbreakingnews in the Belmont. It takes him so very long to get rolling. 
But, it sure would nice to " Have Another" ( pun intended ) triple crown winner after such a long drought. Maybe Destin might give a better performance in the Preakness. I could see where he could have needed a race.Exaggerator seems like a colt that will give an honest effort every time, reminds me of Mucho Macho Man in that sense. Another that may turn in a better effort might be Outwork. I think Nyquist dominates the Preakness, the Belmont may be a different story.
Scott More than 1 year ago
Nyquist's race was quite a surprise to me considering how fast they went early.  He definitely showed his versatility and talent.  I don't think Gun Runner had any chance of winning, but I do think his jockey did him no favors...I thought he had the absolute perfect post for his horse and should have stayed further off the early pace and he definitely moved him way too early...he was lucky to hold 3rd.  

Quick question for you Mike:  Can you remember the top 4 betting choices coming in the top 4 spots in the Derby before?  I thought last year was chalky!  

By the way, I think when you consider the running styles and the fact that the last 3 years had clear leaders of their respective Class that the points system isn't the reason why we've seen the streak of 4 straight Favorites win the Derby.  Only Orb wasn't a clear cut leader and the race was set up perfect for his style and it's also worth noting that he wasn't nearly as clear a favorite as the last 3 horses.  (Still, can you remember 4 favorites winning in a row?!)  
Gaye Goodwin More than 1 year ago
No, Nyquist definitely DID have a lack of respect from the pundits (who cares about the betting hoards on Derby day ?So what?) and you said it yourself: you didn't think he could get a mile and a quarter. Thanks for admitting that he ran a spectacular race. The denial of his talent pre-race was NOT a "myth"
Scott More than 1 year ago
There were plenty of people who wondered about Nyquist's (or any Uncle Mo foal) ability to get 10F's...I was definitely in that boat.  However, when a horse comes in 7 for 7 and has shown the versatility Nyquist had you have to at least cover him in a hedge bet or 2.  Ultimately, I think this is a very weak class of 3 year olds.  With that said, it's not Nyquist's fault...all he does is win and he's winning by open space.

Finally, I don't think the talent was being questioned as much as the distance ability.  Additionally, consider that almost everybody on the NBC Broadcast picked Nyquist to win...it seems quite a few people were buying into his talent.
Robert More than 1 year ago
You nailed it Mike. We all agree after the races are over .  
ML_NJ More than 1 year ago
Nice analysis !
Carlo Campanella More than 1 year ago
Jack, for a guy that makes 3 or 4 long winded posts, you know very little about racing. 

You're comment about Ill have another missing the Belmont is the most ridiculous comment that Ive ever seen on DRF. 

They didn't keep him out of the Belmont- he had tendonitous- an inflammation of the tendon- if s horse races with this, there'd s big change he bows a tendon during the race. Once again, another guy that JUST bets horse racing, but knows zero about owning, training and equine medicine- hate to tell you, but betting/handicapping is less than half of the sport! 
Jack Armstead More than 1 year ago

Carlo... that's exactly the question I "asked"... thanks for finally telling me what happened. If you re-call, there was also some controversy about wearing his "nasal-patch" too. Since he never raced in the Belmont, I never got a real explanation about that either.

I also never got an answer about the "security barns."  Since you're so "wired"/intelligent, can you find the NYRA rules that were "in effect" at that time?  Are they still in effect?

You have no idea what I "know" about racing.  I know enough to stay away from races that have suspect owners/trainers.  As far as my having OC-45 equivalent bandwidth and being able to type at least 95 WPM, what do you care?

I was smart enough to take home ("Net," after meals and tipping waitresses $64.00, and; tipping the teller $27.00/3%) $900 over both days last week. How did you do?

Carlo, just ignore my posts if they offend you, or; they're over your head. That's what I do to people who are looking to feel better by dogging someone else. My experience is that these people usually lost money and seek to change the way they feel. They spout-off or dog someone who reminds them... of what they wish they could be (themselves).

You might consider finding that fellow named Frank who doesn't like my posts either.  Ask DRF.com to put an "Ignore" feature on these blogs.  I've been in I.T. for 40+ years... it would be "easy" to do.  Either way, I don't care what you like or dislike about anyone on this blog.

As far as knowing "Zero" about "Equine Medicine," I already posted the reason why some horses can recover quicker from a tough race, or; a minor injury to muscle/tendon. 

If you're an owner (or know some and wish them well), go look up the name yourself. For years, it was only used on humans.  Now they've figured out how to properly ground the equine athlete.  I already know that they've had 2 inquiries from people who figured it out from what I posted.  What's your latest equine medical contribution?


dksII More than 1 year ago
Track was not speed favoring per se but was biased against closers much more than CD usually is. Played like the old santa anita dirt, if not pressing pace by stretch, you had no shot. Look at derby, nobody was visually flying by anybody despite swift pace like they usually do in stretch especially midpack and back. Nyquist ran huge and was the best horse no doubt but he did not conquer a bias in my opinion and his 103 beyer was a fair mark of his current ability. This is a slower developing crop and should present some great betting opportunities as we head into summer.
Joseph More than 1 year ago
That 103 is a pathetic Beyer Speed Figur. Probably give the poor horse a 102 when he wins the Preakness by 10 lengths.
Gene Fischer More than 1 year ago
Hope SBN skips the Preakness. As a MIneshaft, he is a natural for the mile and a half Belmont 
Mineshaft colts keep getting bigger and stronger and faster (e.g. -Effinex).
J More than 1 year ago

Mike is there any reason why you never comment  on your picks? Both yourself and Steve Crist never get it right. With the exception of Nyquist which you played third all the others you picked finished in the bottom half with each one never getting a call.