O’Neill on Nyquist’s final drill for BC Juvenile: ‘I saw what I wanted, I really did’
Edited Press Release
Undefeated Nyquist posted his final drill in preparation for the October 31 Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) early Friday afternoon right before the races at Santa Anita Park.
The Uncle Mo colt worked a handy five furlongs in 1:02.09, prompting trainer Doug O’Neill to opine “I saw what I wanted, I really did.”
With regular rider Mario Gutierrez up, Nyquist sat in behind stablemate Semper Fortis leaving the 5 1/2-furlong pole before taking the lead three furlongs from home. He cruised through splits of :24.94 and :49.68 en route to an eventual gallop-out time of 1:15.70 for six furlongs.
“I just wanted a traffic-free fresh track and I do have to thank Santa Anita so much for offering that,” said O’Neill, who was granted permission to work 45 minutes in advance of Friday’s 1ST race.
“I was very happy, I got him coming home the last eighth in :12 and we actually two-minute licked him for three furlongs going into the work. He looked like he did it easily.
“We ran over to meet Mario on him afterwards and he said that he had a ton of horse all the way around there. We really just wanted a nice, steady work before jumping on the plane to go to Kentucky and that’s exactly what we got.”
A three-quarter length winner of Santa Anita’s FrontRunner S. (G1) at odds of 1-2 on September 26, Nyquist has won all four of his starts in combination with Gutierrez.
A first out maiden winner going five furlongs over the track on June 5, Nyquist was a subsequent winner of the Best Pal S. (G2) on August 8 at Del Mar and notched his first Grade 1 win in the Del Mar Futurity on September 7.
With the Juvenile looming eight days hence at Keeneland, Nyquist will depart for Lexington early Sunday morning.
Earlier in the day, O’Neill sent out a trio of workers also pointing for the Breeders’ Cup.
Sharla Rae readied for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) with a four-furlong move on the fast main track in :50.60. Chandelier S. (G1) runner-up Land Over Sea, who is pre-entered to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) with a second preference in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1), covered the same distance in :51.
Both had exercise rider Jonny Garcia aboard.
Grade 3-placed and Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) hopeful Jimmy Bouncer went five furlongs for O’Neill in 1:01.20.
Victor Espinoza was aboard Santa Anita Oaks (G1) winner Stellar Wind as she worked five furlongs Friday in 1:01.20 for John Sadler. The Curlin filly is headed for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1).
“She went very good,” Espinoza said. “She’s ready to go.”
Grade 1 victor and Breeders’ Cup Classic candidate Hard Aces worked six furlongs from the gate in company with Blue Navy Blue for Sadler, the former getting a time of 1:13.40 while Blue Navy Blue was given a five-furlong clocking of 1:01.40.
Jerry Hollendorfer trainee and unbeaten Chandelier S. (G1) heroine Songbird, who will vie for favoritism in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1), is scheduled to put in her final major move for that October 31 contest on Saturday morning at 6:30 a.m. (PDT).
Jockey Mike Smith worked Songbird six furlongs last Sunday in 1:13.60 and will be aboard again Saturday morning before she departs for Kentucky early Sunday.
“She’s learning more every day; she’s getting stronger, smarter,” Smith said. “She’s been everything you could ask for and more, so hopefully we can stay on the same path we’re on and she’s going to be one to reckon with.
Also scheduled to work at 6:30 a.m. Saturday morning for Hollendorfer is Wild Dude, who will have Rafael Bejarano up. The Wildcat Heir five-year-old earned his shot in the TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) when taking the Santa Anita Sprint Championship S. (G1).
Nyquist photos courtesy of Benoit Photos