Kentucky Derby favorite Nyquist's work moved to Saturday

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TwinSpires Staff

April 22nd, 2016

Edited press releases from Keeneland

Trainer Doug O’Neill opted to wait a day to work his undefeated Kentucky Derby (G1) favorite Nyquist after overnight rains left water on Keeneland’s main track.

“I played the conservative card today,” O’Neill said. “The track was plenty safe, but there was some standing water in spots and I have seen horses react to that.”

Owned by Reddam Racing, Nyquist took his morning activity to the five-eighths of a mile all-weather Training Track at 7:30 a.m. (EDT). With Jonny Garcia aboard, Nyquist jogged one lap around next to the pony with O’Neill assistant Jack Sisterson aboard, stood for a short time and galloped once around on his own.

“Working on Fridays, we kind of have the luxury to call an audible,” O’Neill said. “His normal time (to work back home) is 7 and there was still a lot of rain in the area, so why take a chance? It will be better tomorrow.”

Nyquist’s work Saturday will be the second of three scheduled breezes at Keeneland before the Uncle Mo colt ships to Churchill Downs. Last Friday, Nyquist worked five furlongs in 1:02.60 on his own.

“He is going to go wire to wire in company with Ralis,” O’Neill said. “They will two-minute lick the first three-eighths and then five-eighths in around 1:01 and change.”

Ralis, also owned by Reddam Racing, won the Hopeful (G1) last summer at Saratoga and most recently was fifth in the Spiral (G3) at Turfway Park. He is being pointed to the $250,000 Pat Day Mile (G3) at Churchill Downs on May 7.

Also scheduled to work Saturday for O’Neill is Kentucky Oaks (G1) candidate Land Over Sea, who had a similar morning routine Friday to Nyquist.

“She will go at 9 and work by herself,” O’Neill said of the daughter of Bellamy Road, who won the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) in her most recent start.

Nyquist had a special visitor Friday – Dennis Fenton, who probably has known the champion longer than anybody. 

Fenton works for Gerry Dilger’s Dromoland Farm near Lexington and handled Nyquist for about a year beginning late in the colt’s weanling year through most of his yearling year. At Keeneland’s 2013 November Breeding Stock Sale, the weanling Nyquist was purchased for $180,000 by Madison Farm and took up residence at Dromoland. 

Consigned to Keeneland’s 2014 September Yearling Sale, he sold for $230,000 to Sutton Place Stables.

Fenton led Nyquist to the ring for the Keeneland September sale.

“I loved him. He was my favorite,” said Fenton, who was at O’Neill’s barn Friday morning after Nyquist’s exercise. “He was unbelievable to be around. He was never sick. He never had a temperature. He was always easy to be around.”

Fenton is thrilled the colt he thought so much of as a youngster has become such an outstanding racehorse, who is undefeated in seven races while earning $3.3 million. He has visited Nyquist several times at Keeneland, including the day after the colt won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) last October. He has posted copies of photos and articles about the colt on his tack room wall.

“I always thought he was special,” Fenton said, adding he’ll be back at Keeneland tomorrow morning to watch Nyquist in his rescheduled work. 

Photo credit Keeneland/Coady Photography.