Nyquist, last seen clinching a championship in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), remained undefeated with a sparkling victory in Monday’s $200,000 San Vicente (G2) at Santa Anita.
Trained by Doug O’Neill for Reddam Racing, and piloted by Mario Gutierrez, Nyquist represents the same team responsible for 2012 Derby hero I’ll Have Another.
Nyquist, who went off as the 2-5 favorite in the San Vicente, vied through an opening quarter in :22.50, easily gained a narrow lead at the half-mile mark in :44.49, and kept on strongly down the stretch. Challenged by Exaggerator with a furlong to go, the champion had plenty in reserve as he drew 1 1/2 lengths clear.
By finishing seven furlongs in a quick 1:20.71, Nyquist recorded the second-fastest time in the San Vicente’s history (on dirt).
“He’s just got that mindset that you’re not going to beat him,” owner Paul Reddam said.
“Exaggerator is a nice horse,” O’Neill noted, “and for him (Nyquist) to hold him off the way he did showed you how talented he is.”
Exaggerator’s connections paid tribute to the winner.
“Goodness gracious,” trainer Keith Desormeaux said. “Anybody not a believer in Nyquist now -- that was an awesome race, to set those kinds of fractions and still finish in close to track record time for a three-year-old in February. Wow! Hat’s off to Nyquist.”
The trainer’s brother, Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux, sounded a similar theme.
“You’d have to break the track record to win the race, so that’s telling for both horses,” the 3-time Derby winning-rider said. “They’re both very talented. I had a dream trip. The winner was too good.”
As a sprint, the San Vicente did not offer any points toward the Kentucky Derby (G1), but Nyquist still tops the leaderboard with the 30 points he amassed last season. Exaggerator (16 points) currently ranks fifth on the points list.
Nyquist has now bankrolled $1,733,600 from his perfect 6-for-6 record. From the first crop of 2010 champion juvenile colt Uncle Mo, he is expected to make his final Derby prep the April 2 Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park.
Photo courtesy of Benoit.