Reddam Racing’s Nyquist came into Saturday’s $200,250 Best Pal (G2) with a big reputation, and the even-money favorite lived up to it with an emphatic 5 1/4-length victory. By enhancing his credentials for the September 7 Del Mar Futurity (G1), he stamped himself as a serious prospect for his freshman sire Uncle Mo, the champion two-year-old colt of 2010.
Tabbed by trainer Doug O’Neill as the best of his deep juvenile squad, Nyquist was bet down from a 3-1 morning line. The appeal was obvious, considering that the $400,000 Fasig-Tipton Florida purchase had captured his Santa Anita debut in a sparkling :56.43, just .06 off the five-furlong track record. And his form had been franked, both directly and indirectly. This was another question, though, and he answered it brilliantly.
Stablemate Found Money showed speed from the rail and set a pressured pace of :22.82 and :46.65. Nyquist attended him, but going very well within himself beneath Mario Gutierrez. Easily striking the front turning for home, he opened up through six furlongs in 1:10.67. Nyquist widened his margin to 5 1/4 lengths and completed 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:16.84, virtually on his own volition.
Swipe, the 5-2 second choice, raced greenly while rallying for second. Although there should be more to come from this Birdstone colt, I wonder whether he wasn’t on a reconnaissance mission on behalf of stablemate Exaggerator. Both are owned by Big Chief Racing and trained by Keith Desormeaux. Exaggerator looked like one to watch when getting up in time on July 25. Might he be Desormeaux’s primary Del Mar Futurity hope? If so, anything Swipe did today versus Nyquist would give him a read of the opposition. He’s got to hope that Exaggerator’s at least five lengths better than Swipe.
Annie’s Candy, beaten a head by Nyquist in their duel at Santa Anita, was no match for him in the rematch and wound up third. Since Annie’s Candy had won handsomely in the interim, I thought he was progressing too. It could be worth seeing trainer Peter Miller try him on turf, as a son of Twirling Candy from a maternal side friendly to the surface.
The maiden Bistraya, by far the longest shot on the board at 42-1, mixed it up early and gave way late for fourth. Surely he’ll go back to the maiden ranks now. Found Money retreated to fifth.
Paynes Prairie was never really in it in his Southern California debut for new connections. He was not only slow to go, but he also looked awkward for a few strides before organizing himself at the rear. Martin Pedroza took care of him once it was apparent that he wasn’t going anywhere, and he coasted in a tailed-off last. Hopefully he’s OK.
In the normal course of events, the well-bred Nyquist would be hailed as the certain favorite for the Del Mar Futurity, and he is likely to be. But something happened two races before the Best Pal to complicate that orderly picture: John Liviakis’ homebred Young Brian simply trounced them in his debut, clocking 1:17.10 for the same 6 1/2-furlong trip.
As explained in the preview, Young Brian was led out unsold for $500,000 at Barretts March. The Hard Spun colt was bet down to 6-5 favoritism in the 3RD, despite drawing the rail, his reputation preceding him as had Nyquist’s. In what ended up being a serendipitous turn of events, the Phil D’Amato trainee bobbled out of the gate and found himself last. That gave him the space to regroup and actually take up a much better tactical position on the outside.
The key point, of course, is that Young Brian had the gears to regroup and to turn a bad start into an advantage. Once in the catbird’s seat in third, the outcome was only a matter of how far. He swept the pace factors aside in short order at the top of the stretch and won unextended by 10 1/4 lengths. Young Brian appeared to have any amount in hand.
The Del Mar Futurity should be quite a clash with Nyquist, Young Brian and (presumably) other smart maiden winners Blameitonthelaw and Exaggerator.
Nyquist photo courtesy of Cecilia Gustavsson/Horsephotos.com.