Horse of the Week 4-6-16: Nyquist

Horse of the Week 4-6-16: Nyquist

Breeders’ Cup Photo ©

Congratulations to the unbeaten Nyquist, whose runaway win in the $1 million Florida Derby (gr. I) on April 2nd at Gulfstream Park has earned him the title of “Horse of the Week” on The Turf Board!

In a poll on The Turf Board’s Twitter page, Nyquist received 100% of the votes, the first time that The Turf Board’s Horse of the Week honor has been won in unanimous fashion. Other contenders for the title were Spiral Stakes (gr. III) winner Oscar Nominated and Skip Away Stakes (gr. III) winner Valid.

After breaking sharply from post position four, Nyquist went straight to the lead and fended off challenges from both sides before being confronted on the far turn by the four-time graded stakes winner and race favorite Mohaymen. For a brief moment, it looked as though Mohaymen would provide Nyquist with a stiff challenge, but Nyquist left him behind in the homestretch and kicked clear to win by 3 1/4 lengths in the time of 1:49.11 for nine furlongs.

“I just thought Mario (Gutierrez) rode a brilliant race,” trainer Doug O’Neill was quoted as saying on the Gulfstream Park website. “He showed the way out of there and just kept on going, improved his position. It was all Mario—Mario won the first turn, and the first turn won the race.

“Obviously we’re high as a kite right now. But he seems like you could run him on just about anything. He’s trained on synthetic. It doesn’t seem like footing really bothers him. Johnny Garcia, his daily exercise rider, commented that the one day that he galloped here, that the track was just much more tight than Santa Anita. So he felt like (Nyquist) was really ready to run on a tight track after training at Santa Anita, which has a little more cushion. Maybe he was just really legged up, but you know, going a mile and an eighth in only his second time out as a 3-year-old—we’d be lying if we didn’t say we were optimistic, but you never know, and he exceeded our expectations for sure.

“I feel really good (about Kentucky). We drew up thinking two preps before the Derby would leave him with fresh legs. He’s got a lot of miles underneath him in the morning and we have a fresh horse for the afternoon.”

Mario Gutierrez shared his thoughts on the race strategy. “It was always part of the plan (to go to front). It just depends on the break; how the other horses were going to be acting, so coming out of the gate, I broke so clean and so fast so I just had to take the lead.”

Speaking of Nyquist drifting wide on the far turn, Gutierrez said “I saw the gray horse (Mohaymen) coming to my side. I’m riding the race and I didn’t want to be so confident, so if he was going to pass me, he was going to have to pass me running and wide.”

The day after the Florida Derby, Nyquist shipped to Keeneland in Kentucky to prepare for the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) on May 7th at Churchill Downs. The Turf Board wishes Nyquist and his connections the best of luck in their quest to win the Kentucky Derby!

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Follow J. Keeler Johnson ("Keelerman"):

J. Keeler Johnson is a writer, blogger, videographer, and all-around horse racing enthusiast who was drawn to the sport by Curlin's quest to become North America's richest racehorse. A great fan of racing history, he considers Dr. Fager to be the greatest racehorse ever produced in America, but counts Zenyatta as his all-time favorite. He lives in Wisconsin and also writes for the blog Unlocking Winners.

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