Nyquist Fabulous in Florida Derby
RSS Feeds Sunday, April 3, 2016

Nyquist Trounces Mohaymen in Florida Derby

The best of the East and the best of the West hooked up for a moment at the head of the stretch, but a duel never materialized and Nyquist drew away in the $1 million Xpressbet.com Florida Derby (gr. I) April 2 at Gulfstream Park.

Owner J. Paul Reddam's high-stakes gamble was richly rewarded when his front-running son of Uncle Mo handed Mohaymen his first defeat en route to a commanding 3 1/4-length victory over 21-1 shot Majesto.

The winner banked $600,000 of the $1 million purse and also received the $1 million bonus offered to any graduate of the Fasig-Tipton Florida sale to win the Florida Derby.

Mohaymen, 4-5 favorite in a field of 10, never fired on a track that received several heavy downpours of rain but was still rated good. The Tapit  colt ran a non-threatening fourth behind 16-1 Fellowship, who closed to nab third.

Nyquist, the 6-5 second choice, extended his perfection to 7-for-7 for regular rider Mario Gutierrez with his second victory this season (he earned a 1 1/2-length victory against Exaggerator in the seven-furlong San Vicente on Feb. 15 at Santa Anita). Excelling at his first try going 1 1/8 miles, he returned $4.40 for a $2 win wager, finishing in a final time of 1:49.11.

The windfall boosted the lifetime earnings of the 2-year-old champion to $3,333,600. Reddam purchased the colt, bred by Summerhill Farm in Kentucky, for $400,000 as a 2-year-old in training.

"You can't be afraid," Reddam said of his willingness to leave the West Coast to tackle East Coast star Mohaymen at his home course. "If you are afraid in this business, you are not going anywhere."

The outcome provided an emphatic answer to those who questioned the strategy of Reddam and trainer Doug O'Neill. Shadwell Stable's $2.2 million yearling purchase Mohaymen had been a force on the East Coast with a 5-for-5 record that included rousing victories in two previous starts for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin this year, both at Gulfstream.

Said jockey Junior Alvarado of Mohaymen's disappointing performance, "I didn't really have much excuse. I was where I wanted to be the whole race and he didn't fire this time."

"He ran big," McLaughlin said. "We were awfully wide throughout and with the track, you never know. We'll regroup."

Nyquist brought his hard-hitting game with him, just as he had when he overcame a rough and wide trip to grind out a half-length victory in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) at Keeneland last Oct. 31. He turned back the challenge of longshot Sawyers Mickey to secure his spot on the front end, and clicked through fractions of :23.60, :47.09, and 1:11.39. When he turned for home Mohaymen loomed briefly, but offered no threat down the lane. Despite despite drifting outward in deep stretch, Nyquist had the victory secured.

"He's got the mindset of a champion," O'Neill said. "Now, it's up to the whole crew and the racing gods to keep him injury free."

Nyquist will ship to Keeneland April 3 to begin preparations in earnest for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands at Churchill Downs on May 7. The synthetic training track there will assure his conditioning moves forward regardless of weather conditions.

As announced last November, Nyquist will stand at Darley once his racing career is over.

Although the bay colt emerged victorious from the Florida Derby, other questions will linger.

As with every 3-year-old, Nyquist must demonstrate he will handle the classic distance of a mile and a quarter. His sire never had the opportunity to provide an answer. He was scratched before the Kentucky Derby with an illness.

"I feel today was a step forward for the challenge of getting a mile and a quarter against a huge field," said O'Neill, who teamed with Gutierrez and Reddam to sweep the Derby and Preakness (gr. I) with I'll Have Another in 2012. Their hopes for a Triple Crown were dashed when I'll Have Another was scratched on the eve of the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) with a career-ending injury.

Nyquist must overcome a significant body of history if he is to withstand the so-called Juvenile Jinx. Street Sense, the 2007 Kentucky Derby winner, is the only Juvenile champion to prevail in the opening leg of the Triple Crown. The Juvenile was first run in 1984.

 Pedulla, Tom. "Nyquist Trounces Mohaymen in Florida Derby." Blood-Horse, 2 Apr. 2016. Web. 3 Apr. 2016.





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