BOZICH | Cue the Triple Crown hype after Nyquist's powerful Kent - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Cue the Triple Crown hype after Nyquist's powerful Kentucky Derby win

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Nyquist ran the fastest Kentucky Derby time in 13 years. (Associated Press [photo, Garry Jones) Nyquist ran the fastest Kentucky Derby time in 13 years. (Associated Press [photo, Garry Jones)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Get excited about another horse, everybody. Go crazy if you like. Prepare for another serious pursuit of a Triple Crown. Remember the name.

The colt is Nyquist.

He came to the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs Saturday and ran like he was chasing American Pharoah, Seattle Slew, Secretariat and the other winners of the Triple Crown.

Too soon to start that kind of wild chatter?

Usually.

Wasn’t it just 10 minutes ago that critics were questioning his pedigree and insisting that when Nyquist got to the top of the stretch in the Derby he would run like he was pulling his newspaper clippings behind him?

Didn’t one trainer of a Derby rival tell anybody willing to listen that Nyquist would not hit the board Saturday?

“A lot of people said the horse couldn’t go a mile and a quarter,” said Paul Reddam, the colt’s owner. “I didn’t believe them. Thank goodness the horse didn’t believe them either.”

“Paul and I talked a lot,” said trainer Doug O’Neill. “Do you believe that idiot who wrote that article?”

There’s no reason to practice safe hype any more. Not if you watched how Nyquist crackled to a 1-¼ length victory over Exaggerator and 18 other horses in the first leg of the Triple Crown.

He answered the questions about his pedigree, stamina, soundness, size and everything else the skeptics whispered all week. Ask the 167,227 observers who packed steamy Churchill Downs.

He did it the way a legitimately talented horse does it, stalking a thunderous early pace, overtaking tired front-runners and holding off surging closers.

His time for the mile-and-a-quarter was 2:01.31, the fastest Derby in 13 years and nearly two seconds faster than the 2:03.02 that American Pharoah ran last year on his way to the Triple Crown.

“There’s no way you can feel nervous,” O’Neill said. “He’s definitely the best horse I’ve ever been around. We felt like we were going to the gym with Kobe Bryant.”

Or Tom Brady. Or Jordan Spieth. You get the picture. He’s more than just a horse named after a Detroit Red Wings wing (Gustav Nyquist). Much more.

This is a special horse, only the third 8-for-8 horse to win the Kentucky Derby as well as the eighth unbeaten Derby winner.

Nyquist came to Louisville after winning the Florida Derby, San Vincente Stakes, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and four other races since last June 5. Nyquist has never been worse than third at any call in any of his three races this year, winning them by a combined six lengths.

He’s won in California, Florida or Kentucky and looks as if he’s ready to win in Baltimore (Preakness May 21), New York (Belmont, June 11), Pluto and Mars.

Jockey Mario Gutierrez urged the winner briskly from the middle of the starting gate, settled him just behind front-running Danzing Candy in the first turn and let the colt take it from there.

Nyquist was ready. He’s always ready. He stalked the speedy Danzing Candy and Louisiana Derby winner Gun Runner down the backstretch. Then it was time for the serious running.

He surged into the lead with about a quarter mile to run and his talent took it from there.

It always has.

“If anybody watches Nyquist’s races, you will see that he will not allow any other horse to pass him,” Gutierrez said.

Exaggerator was certainly closing at the finish, but Nyquist never seemed threatened. It was 3 ¼ lengths back to third-place Gun Runner with Mohaymen fourth and Suddenbreakingnews fifth.

As long as the colt remains sound, he will race in the Preakness at Pimlico in Baltimore. Reddam, O’Neill and Gutierrez made this circuit four years ago with the precocious I'll Have Another.

Won the Derby. Won the Preakness. Endured all the hype about becoming racing’s first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.

Scratched the day before the Belmont Stakes because of tendonitis. Never raced again.

“Having been close to a possible Triple Crown, we realize it doesn’t happen until it happens,” Reddam said.

“This horse is such a  special horse and he just shows it every day,” O’Neill said. “The fact that he’s unbeaten shows you a lot. Seeing it happen last year shows that it can happen with a special horse.”

Nyquist certainly looked special Saturday at Churchill Downs. Go ahead and get excited.

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