Ever a Derby Winner With Better Credentials Than Nyquist?Read this article
Ever a Derby Winner With Better Credentials Than Nyquist?
For all the negative buzz about Nyquist’s average speed figures and vulnerability, the newly crowned and much-deserving 2016 Kentucky Derby winner might just have the most impeccable credentials of any Derby winner in the illustrious history of the race – and certainly in the modern era.
To put things in historical perspective, Secretariat, Affirmed and American Pharoah - all Triple Crown winners - each had losses prior to winning the Kentucky Derby. Nyquist joins Seattle Slew, Barbaro, and Smarty Jones as the only colts to emerge from the Derby undefeated since 1977, but none of those colts had as many victories (8) or grade one wins (5) as the new champ. Nyquist is just the eighth undefeated Kentucky Derby winner in 142 runnings. Not bad for a horse some handicappers dismissed as "slow" before the Run for the Roses.
Great and getting better
Indeed, the 2016 crop of three year-olds does not appear to be the best in recent memory, but Nyquist continues to do what all great horses do - beat their competition time after time in the biggest races. Nyquist's win also meant that the Doug O'Neill trainee became just the second colt in history to pull off the Breeders' Cup Juvenile/Kentucky Derby double along with Street Sense who broke ground with the accomplishment in 2007. A quick look at the speed figures may also reveal that Nyquist is, in fact, improving - a scary prospect for his rivals. The 103 Beyer Speed Figure Nyquist earned in the Derby was the colt's best among his route races and a respectable number compared to Kentucky Derby winners of the past 10-15 years.
Another Triple Crown?
In the next five weeks, if Nyquist is able to do the unthinkable and capture the Triple Crown just a year after American Pharoah's historic feat, the plucky colt from the west coast might just go down as one of the best and most accomplished runners in the history of the sport - a very odd thought considering how little fanfare he received before the Derby.
On Friday at Churchill Downs, the field has been set for the 142nd running of the $1 million Kentucky Oaks. The Grade 1 event, carded at a mile and an eighth, has drawn a full field of fourteen three-year-old fillies with one listed as an also-eligible.
With the final round of Kentucky Derby preps in the books, it seems improbable, but arguable that the March 12 Tampa Derby was the most useful and review-worthy of the 24 official point-bearing races in 2016.
The handicapping public may find it difficult to get worked into a lather over the five-horse field set to contest the Grade 3 Beaumont Stakes Sunday, April 17 at Keeneland, but there's at least one filly worth keeping a close eye one.