CRAWFORD | Nyquist and Shout! Unbeaten champ makes history in Ke - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Nyquist and Shout! Unbeaten champ makes history in Kentucky Derby win

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Jockey Mario Gutierrez takes Nyquist to the lead in the stretch of Kentucky Derby 142. (AP photo) Jockey Mario Gutierrez takes Nyquist to the lead in the stretch of Kentucky Derby 142. (AP photo)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- If there was a bit of a hangover feeling around Churchill Downs, if the buzz perhaps was lacking despite having an unbeaten 2-year-year old champion on the grounds vying for the Kentucky Derby, Nyquist took care of all that in two scintillating minutes on the historic Louisville track.

Stalking leader Danzing Candy through some of the fastest early fractions in Derby history, Nyquist bolted to the lead coming out of the final turn and jolted the horse racing world back to life with a 1 1/4 length victory that stamps him as a serious threat to become the sport's second Triple Crown winner in as many years, after 37 years without one.

Exciting enough?

Nyquist becomes the eighth unbeaten Kentucky Derby winner, but only two of those (Majestic Prince who was 8-0-0 when he won in 1969 and Morvich, 12-0-0 in 1922) had as many wins as Nyquist's eight.

Not only has the son of Uncle Mo out of the mare Seeking Gabrielle not been beaten, he has not been passed in a race. The fourth straight favorite to win the Derby paid $6.60 to win, and completed the mile and a quarter in 2:01.31, the fastest Kentucky Derby since 2003 and 14th fastest ever, before the second largest crowd in event history, 167,227.

In the Winner's Circle, the team of owner J. Paul Reddam, trainer Doug O'Neill and jockey Mario Guteirrez celebrated their second Derby win in five years, having won with I'll Have Another in 2012.

"I will have another," Reddam said after accepting the winner's trophy.

O'Neill, who had been calmly confident all week, proclaimed Nyquist the best horse he's worked with -- and that includes I'll Have Another and Hall of Famer Lava Man.

"He's just a special horse," O'Neill said. "I mean, I think now it's safe to say . . . he's definitely the best horse I have ever been around. And (exercise rider) Johnny Garcia, who is on him every day, he's been saying for a while now that this horse is so strong and does everything so easy, and he's never tired. It doesn't seem like we have ever really gotten to the bottom of him. That's very exciting about the future."

As expected, Danzing Candy sprinted to the lead from his far outside post and did not allow Nyquist to take it easy in the early going. His half-mile of 45.72 seconds was the 10th-fastest in Derby history and Gun Runner, who put a head in front at the mile marker, will be credited with a mile of 1:10.40, the 11th-fastest in the history of the race.

It didn't wear down Nyquist, who went off as a 2-1 favorite. He had no trouble putting away Gun Runner, then drew clear in the stretch before a late charge from Santa Anita Derby winner Exaggerator. He was in eighth place, 9 1/2-lengths behind Nyquist with a quarter mile to go, but mounted a furious rally, swinging out, through horses before straightening up to pursue the leader.

He closed strongly, but couldn't close the gap. Rider Kent Desormeaux said that he'd had to put on the brakes earlier in the race before moving on, but trainer Keith Desormeaux said his colt just couldn't catch the winner, who now has beaten Exaggerator four times.

"I thought we had time to catch Nyquist," Desormeaux said. "He had clear running room the entire quarter-mile stretch. I thought for sure we would catch him. He did kind of level off the last sixteenth of a mile. Maybe he ran out of the training. I didn't see where Nyquist was during the race until after it was over and he was right there on the pace. What a horse. I can't respect that horse enough."

Gun Runner, the Louisiana Derby winner, hung on to win a photo for third. Mohaymen, who lost to Nyquist in the Florida Derby, finished fourth.

Gutierrez, who won his second Derby, stayed cool early, guided Nyquist easily into stalking position, and used decent urging down the stretch, but nothing like Victor Espinoza used in the stretch of the Derby a year ago, when he was criticized for using the whip on American Pharoah 32 times.

"We got a beautiful trip," Gutierrez said. "You know, from the start to the end. And the pressure, it is pressure. Like the horses on the field, it's the Kentucky Derby. It's the only race we have 19 other horses trying to get to the wire first. But, like I say, I get the confidence from Nyquist. I was able to work with him since he got to the track, so I know him a lot, and I trust him. . . . It's very, very special."

Nyquist is the fourth straight post-time favorite to win the Kentucky Derby, a run which matches the second-longest such streak in Kentucky Derby history. The last time it happened was 1972 through '75, with Riva Ridge, Secretariat, Cannonade and Foolish Pleasure. Those four, however, produced just one Triple Crown winner.

O'Neill, who ran Nyquist just twice this year in the hopes of having a fresh colt who could endure the Triple Crown chase if he could win the Kentucky Derby, now will have that chance.

Nyquist entered the race with just over $3.2 million in earnings, a record for any Kentucky Derby starter. He comes out of the race with $4,954,200 in winnings. He's just the fourth million-dollar earner to win the race, out of 44 who have tried it.

Dennis O'Neill, Doug O'Neill's brother's bloodstock advisor, said he couldn't feel luckier.

"I said to someone it felt like four years ago I bought a lottery ticket," O'Neill said. "And I said for someone to buy two lotto tickets in one lifetime, I don't know if that's ever happened. That's kind of how I feel about this, just an unbelievable day."

And Nyquist may be ready to cash in some more.

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