Nyquist set to rebound from outside post

Profile Picture: James Scully

September 22nd, 2016

Nyquist has posted his biggest victories from outside starting positions, capturing the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) from post 12 and the Kentucky Derby (G1) from post 13, and is drawn favorably once again for Saturday’s $1.25 million Pennsylvania Derby (G2) in post 9. After winning his first eight starts, the Doug O’Neill-trained colt will attempt to rebound from back-to-back setbacks in the Preakness (G1) and Haskell Invitational (G1).

Have we ever seen such a thing?

Well, California Chrome seemed almost unbeatable in 2014 before having his six-race win streak snapped in the Belmont Stakes (G1). The Art Sherman trainee returned to the races with a clunker next time out, finishing a well-beaten sixth as the 4-5 favorite in the Pennsylvania Derby (G2) before rebounding with an excellent neck third in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).

In 2007, Curlin captured the Preakness before losing the Belmont Stakes as the even-money favorite. The Steve Asmussen charge came back from a freshening with a dull third, beaten about five lengths as the 4-5 favorite in the Haskell before rebounding with an outstanding triumph in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1).

The precedent exists for a turnaround and Nyquist is expected to get a fast track after dropping the Preakness and Haskell under sloppy conditions.

So what happened in the Preakness? Nyquist broke from post 2 and became embroiled in a suicidal pace duel from the inside, weakening to third at Pimlico. O’Neill took responsibility for the tactics:

“I didn’t think we could get beat, to be honest with you,” the trainer said after the second leg of the Triple Crown. “We thought we had the best horse and wanted to ride him like the best horse and not try to get too cute and get perfect positioning. Him going fast early was really my idea, thinking ‘he’s the best horse, take it to them.’”

The Haskell was more of the same with Nyquist being pinned down throughout after breaking from the rail, never receiving a breather as he contested the pace. He wound up giving way to be fourth.

Look for a different trip in the Pennsylvania Derby.

The son of Uncle Mo rated off the pacesetter winning the Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and jockey Mario Gutierrez will establish positioning just off the early leaders Saturday, biding his time while in the clear.

I am tabbing Nyquist to rebound with a victory. 

(Coady Photography)