Nyquist confirmed for Haskell after strong five-furlong work

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July 11th, 2016

Kentucky Derby (G1) star Nyquist fired a five-furlong bullet at Santa Anita Monday morning, his third work back since an illness following his third in the Preakness (G1). After a flurry of reports indicating that Reddam Racing’s champion was bound for the July 31 Haskell Invitational (G1), trainer Doug O’Neill’s official Facebook page confirmed that the $1 million prize at Monmouth Park is next.

With jockey Mario Gutierrez aboard on Monday, Nyquist zipped in :59, the fastest of 23 works at the five-furlong distance. The second-fastest (:59 3/5) was posted by the Peter Eurton-trained Act.

Nyquist will aim to bounce back from his first career loss in the Preakness, where he dueled through fast fractions on the sloppy track and tired late. The son of Uncle Mo tried gamely to rally once passed by Exaggerator, but didn’t have enough left and lost second in a photo with late-running Cherry Wine.

Subsequently coming down with a fever, Nyquist was ruled out of the June 11 Belmont (G1). He was given extra time to recover at Pimlico before shipping home to Santa Anita.

Nyquist returned to the worktab with a :48 3/5 half-mile June 17, going easily enough to earn the “breezing” designation rare among Southern California clockers. He covered the same ground in the same time “handily” July 4, and stepped it up another panel here.

According to last Friday’s blog by Dean Keppler on Monmouth’s Haskell microsite, the likely cast so far could include Louisiana Derby (G2) hero Gun Runner, third to Nyquist in the Kentucky Derby and most recently a powerful winner of the Matt Winn (G3); Blue Grass (G1) victor Brody’s Cause, seventh in the Derby and ninth in the Belmont; and once-beaten American Freedom, coming off scores in the Sir Barton and Iowa Derby (G3) for Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, who boasts a record eight Haskell wins. Baffert may send more than one to the Jersey Shore.

Addendum: on Saturday, No Distortion earned a try at the Haskell by rolling to a 3 1/4-length decision in Monmouth's Long Branch. Like champion half-sister Proud Spell, he's a Brereton Jones homebred trained by Larry Jones. Donegal Moon, the winner of an earlier Haskell prep in the June 19 Pegasus (G3), is set to sell tonight at Fasig-Tipton's Horses of Racing Age Sale.

File photo from Nyquist working in February courtesy of Benoit.