Trainer Doug O’Neill opted to wait a day to work his undefeated Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) favorite Nyquist after overnight rains left water on the main track.
“I played the conservative card today,” O’Neill said. “The track was plenty safe, but there was some standing water in spots and I have seen horses react to that.”
Owned by Reddam Racing, Nyquist took his morning activity to the five-eighths of a mile all-weather Training Track at 7:30 a.m. With Jonny Garcia aboard, Nyquist jogged one lap around next to the pony with O’Neill assistant Jack Sisterson aboard, stood for a short time and galloped once around on his own.
“Working on Fridays, we kind of have the luxury to call an audible,” O’Neill said. “His normal time (to work back home) is 7 and there was still a lot of rain in the area, so why take a chance? It will be better tomorrow.”
Nyquist’s work Saturday will be the second of three scheduled breezes at Keeneland before the Uncle Mo colt ships to Churchill Downs. Last Friday, Nyquist worked five furlongs in 1:02.60 on his own.
“He is going to go wire to wire in company with Ralis,” O’Neill said. “They will two-minute lick the first three-eighths and then five-eighths in around 1:01 and change.”
Ralis, also owned by Reddam Racing, won the Hopeful (G1) last summer at Saratoga and most recently was fifth in the Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Spiral (G3) at Turfway Park. He is being pointed to the $250,000 Pat Day Mile (G3) at Churchill Downs on May 7.
Also scheduled to work Saturday for O’Neill is Kentucky Oaks (G1) candidate Land Over Sea, who had a similar morning routine Friday to Nyquist.
“She will go at 9 and work by herself,” O’Neill said of the daughter of Bellamy Road, who won the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) in her most recent start.
OLD FRIEND CHECKS ON NYQUIST AT KEENELAND
Dennis Fenton probably has known Reddam Racing’s Nyquist longer than anybody.
Fenton works for Gerry Dilger’s Dromoland Farm near Lexington and handled Nyquist for about a year beginning late in the colt’s weanling year through most of his yearling year. At Keeneland’s 2013 November Breeding Stock Sale, the weanling Nyquist was purchased for $180,000 by Madison Farm and took up residence at Dromoland.
Consigned to Keeneland’s 2014 September Yearling Sale, he sold for $230,000 to Sutton Place Stables.
Fenton led Nyquist to the ring for the Keeneland September sale. (Click here to watch Nyquist sell.)
“I loved him. He was my favorite,” said Fenton, who was at trainer Doug O’Neill’s barn Friday morning after the Uncle Mo colt galloped on the training track. “He was unbelievable to be around. He was never sick. He never had a temperature. He was always easy to be around.”
Fenton is thrilled the colt he thought so much of as a youngster has become such an outstanding racehorse, who is undefeated in seven races, has earned $3.3 million and is the favorite for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1). He has visited Nyquist several times at Keeneland, including the day after the colt won the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) last October. He has posted copies of photos and articles about the colt on his tack room wall.
“I always thought he was special,” Fenton said, adding he’ll be back at Keeneland tomorrow morning to watch Nyquist in his rescheduled work.
UNDEFEATED LIGHTSTREAM MIGHT HEAD TO ACORN
Trainer Brian Lynch was back at Keeneland Friday morning following a quick trip to the Palm Meadows training center in Florida to check on his string of 2-year-olds.
He left Lexington last Sunday shortly after Lightstream extended her record to 2-for-2 with a victory in the Adena Springs Beaumont (G3).
“She’s doing very well,” Lynch said. “The ($700,000) Acorn (G1, run at a mile on June 11 at Belmont Park) always has been on our radar. Now if Songbird comes east, we will try to avoid her. We will get some wind back in her sails, nominate to a few spots and line up something.”
Owned by Up Hill Stable and Head of Plains Partners LLC, Lightstream rallied for a three-quarters of a length victory over Grade 1 winner Nickname in the Adena Springs Beaumont.
Meanwhile, Jim and Susan Hill’s 2015 Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) winner Grand Arch is scheduled to work on the grass Sunday as he nears a return to competition.
“We will get a better feel for where we are after Sunday,” Lynch said of Grand Arch, who could make his 2016 debut in the $500,000 Woodford Reserve Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs on May 7. “Then he would have one more grass work here the Sunday after.”
Grand Arch, who closed his 2015 campaign with a third-place finish behind Tepin in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1), has had four dirt works at Keeneland since March 27.
Wet conditions also kept Cash is King LLC’s Cathryn Sophia from her scheduled Friday work, said Tyler Servis, assistant to his father, John Servis. Third here in the Central Bank Ashland (G1) on April 9, the Street Boss filly jogged on the main track after the renovation break. She is to work Saturday after the break.
“Depending how she works and comes out of it will give us more of an understanding of where we’re going,” Tyler Servis said.
The Kentucky Oaks (G1) or the Eight Belles (G2) at Churchill on Oaks Day is being considered as possible next races for Cathryn Sophia, who has 80 Oaks qualifying points to place sixth among the top 14 point earners nominated to the Oaks. …
Trainer Kenny McPeek said Magdalena Racing’s Dothraki Queen would work Saturday with the Kentucky Oaks (G1) still a possible option.
“She lost a shoe coming out of the gate,” McPeek said of Dothraki Queen’s 2016 debut, an eighth-place finish in the April 14 Appalachian (G3) Presented by Japan Racing Association. “We haven’t ruled out the Oaks and we are still considering the English Oaks (Group 1 Investic Oaks on June 4).”
Dothraki Queen has earned 20 points toward the Kentucky Oaks by virtue of a victory in the Pocahonas (G2), runner-up finish in the Darley Alcibiades (G1) and third-place finishes in the 14 Hands Winery Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) and Golden Rod (G2).
The 20 points are good enough for 16th in the standings for the Oaks that is limited to 14 starters and as many as four also-eligibles. …
Keeneland’s 4½-furlong track record fell for Thursday for the second consecutive day. The mark was lowered in the third race when Lady Aurelia, a 2-year-old daughter of Scat Daddy ridden by Julio Garcia, won her career debut by 7½ lengths in :50.85, which was 51/100ths of a second faster than Hey Mike’s time from Wednesday. Wesley Ward trains Lady Aurelia for breeder Stonestreet Stables and partners George Bolton and Peter Leidel. Out of Puerto Rican Horse of the Year and Grade 2 winner D’Wildcat Speed, Lady Aurelia is nominated to the $100,000 Kentucky Juvenile on May 5 at Churchill Downs. …
Pick Six Racing’s millionaire and multiple graded stakes winner Vyjack, a half-brother to champion Tepin, returned to the winner’s circle for the first time since September 2014 after his neck victory in Keeneland’s seventh race on Thursday. Bill Mott trains the 6-year-old Into Mischief gelding, who won the one-mile turf race under Jose Lezcano in 1:39.60. Vyjack, who was 18th in the 2013 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) and eighth in the Belmont (G1), last won the Kelso (G2). Thursday’s performance marked his first victory in four career starts on the turf. …
Thursday’s ninth and final race resulted in the largest payoff of the Spring Meet when 55-1 longshot Free Rose, ridden by Sophie Doyle, won the race for owner-trainer Tevis McCauley. The 3-year-old Munnings gelding took the 1 1/8-mile race on the turf by 2¼ lengths in 1:51.42.