Nyquist, the undefeated winner of the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, is preparing for his 2016 debut in the Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes at Santa Anita on February 15. But regardless of what happens–and barring some type of jaw dropping performance from another two year old–he’ll still be the presumptive favorite for the 2016 Kentucky Derby.
The Kentucky Derby will take place on May 7 at Louisville’s iconic Churchill Downs race course. There will be a couple of months of prep races that will lead up to the ‘main event’ and qualify horses for the Derby field. And while it’s well known that two year old race horses are notoriously unpredictable it’s evident that at this point Nyquist is the horse to beat. He’s ranked #1 in the current qualification standings with 30 points, 10 more than Mohaymen (who won the Holy Bull Stakes on Saturday) and 12 more than Sunny Ridge (winner of Saturday’s Withers Stakes). Nyquist has five wins overall and a pair of graded stakes wins with a victory in the Front Runner Stakes at Santa Anita to go along with his Breeders’ Cup Juvenile victory.
Trainer Doug O’Neill was very pleased with Nyquist’s latest workout as he gets ready for his three year old campaign: “I’m very happy and Jonny (Exercise Rider Jonny Garcia) was very happy, which is the main thing, and the horse looks phenomenal.”
It wasn’t so much the sheer speed of the horse that impressed O’Neill but how he handled the furlong: “The final time is a little slow, but it’s the way he did it, the way he finished, and the way he’s cooling out—that’s the important thing. (The final furlong) is the money run. You want them to be able to settle, breathe, and relax, and finish with a flurry. He’s got so much natural speed, I’m just happy Jonny has got him settled and finishing up with a lot of run. If you let him do his thing, he could very easily go really fast.”
To the uninitiated, it would seem that the idea is to ‘go really fast’ but the great horses are able to maintain a pace and ‘go really fast’ at the right time. Assuming that O’Neill is correct in his assessment, Nyquist looks to be very mature for a two year old.