Nyquist skates through final work for San Vicente
Taking to the Santa Anita track about 45 minutes before the Super Bowl Sunday card kicked off, Nyquist turned in a smooth-as-silk five-furlong drill in company. The undefeated champion 2-year-old colt appears primed for his reappearance in the February 15 San Vicente (G2).
Trainer Doug O’Neill sent Nyquist out with stablemate Bad Read Sanchez, who played the role of target. Nyquist sat just off his flank early, cruised alongside on the far turn, readily overtook him at the top of the lane, and widened at will. Regular rider Mario Gutierrez hardly moved a muscle aboard the champ, perched high in the saddle.
After clocking splits of :23.65 and :47.16, Nyquist completed five furlongs in :59.38 while drawing off by four lengths. The Uncle Mo colt went on to gallop out six furlongs in 1:13. Santa Anita clocker Dane Nelson caught Bad Read Sanchez’s five furlongs in 1:00.20.
“That’s exactly what we wanted to see,” O’Neill said. “He’s had a bunch of stamina workouts so we just wanted a sharp drill. He worked unbelievably. Mario was really happy with it, so we’re happy.
“He normally goes by himself. I like letting him put his feet wherever he wants to put them and he’s a horse that will work fine on his own. We put him in company today just to try and put competition back on his mind…So far, so good.”
Getting the mental sharpness back is just as important as the physical side, since Nyquist hasn’t raced since his Eclipse-clinching victory in the October 31 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1).
All along, O’Neill has described a two-prep plan to get to the Kentucky Derby (G1): the seven-furlong San Vicente followed by the 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park April 2.
But judging by his comments, the trainer isn’t wedded to that schedule.
“He’ll walk the shedrow tomorrow and go back to the track on Tuesday and gallop right into the race. We’ll see how the San Vicente goes and huddle up with the whole crew and figure out what’s in the horse’s best interest.
“We talked about going to the Florida Derby, but we’ll play that by ear,” O’Neill said.
“He’s got so much class, so much raw ability. It’s hard to believe that he’s any more mature than last year but he’s doing everything right and thriving on training; he’s doing super.”
Photo courtesy SA Publicity via Twitter.