2016 Kentucky Derby Pedigrees: Nyquist

February 19th, 2016

Nyquist emulated his sire, Uncle Mo, by crowning an undefeated 2-year-old campaign with a victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) – and a divisional Eclipse Award.

Both champions extended their unbeaten sequence in their sophomore debuts around one turn, but Nyquist passed a stiffer test in Monday’s San Vicente (G2) than Uncle Mo did in a nondescript event at Gulfstream Park back in 2011. Does this portend a more productive 3-year-old season for Nyquist – and a proper shot at the Kentucky Derby?

Uncle Mo was unfortunately sidelined by a liver problem that surfaced following his first loss, a third in the Wood Memorial (G1). With the rest of the spring and a good part of the summer spent getting healthy, he was denied the opportunity to compete in any jewel of the Triple Crown.

Returning to action in the seven-furlong King’s Bishop (G1) at Saratoga, Uncle Mo was a heroic, near-miss second to Caleb’s Posse (who later drubbed older foes in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile [G1]). “Mo” likewise came right back to dismiss his elders in the Kelso (G2) around Belmont Park’s one-turn mile, where he notched a lofty 117 BRIS Speed rating. In his lone attempt at 1 1/4 miles in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), he tired to 10th. Once more diagnosed with an elevated liver enzyme, he was retired to stud.

We’ll never know how Uncle Mo might have fared over the classic distance if he’d remained in good health. Given his profile as a son of Indian Charlie who won his six-furlong debut at Saratoga in 1:09 1/5, and whose only two-turn success came in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), it’s arguable that he did have distance limitations. But Uncle Mo is out of a mare by stoutly bred Arch, so there was some encouragement from the maternal side.

Whether Uncle Mo would have himself stayed the trip or not, his influence as a sire is a different matter. The probabilities are that he will transmit his hallmarks – classy speed and quick development. This hypothesis will be tested by Nyquist and other members of his wildly successful first crop.

Simultaneously the leading freshman sire and the overall leading sire of 2-year-olds in North America last year, Uncle Mo also topped the Experimental Free Handicap with a total of 10 juveniles listed (five males and five fillies). He has another notable son on the Triple Crown trail in Lecomte (G3) winner Mo Tom, who runs in Saturday’s Risen Star (G2). Three other sons of Mo were also entered in the Risen Star – Lecomte third Uncle Walter, Jean Lafitte winner Forevamo and Sham (G3) third Laoban (subsequently scratched). Robert B. Lewis (G3) runner-up Uncle Lino is likewise on the trail. Leading his fillies are Alcibiades (G1) queen Gomo and Demoiselle (G2) runner-up Thrilled.

[Update: See also the pedigree profile of another Derby contender by Uncle Mo, Outwork.]

Nyquist is the first registered foal from Seeking Gabrielle, whose only win came at six furlongs. She’s by a King’s Bishop hero in Forestry. Primarily an influence for brilliance, he did get Preakness (G1) winner Shackleford from a stout mare. The same general pattern holds for his daughters, with Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) winner Bobby’s Kitten and sprinters Green Mask, Magical Feeling, and Turbulent Descent all out of Forestry mares.

Seeking Gabrielle’s family reinforces the orientation toward speed and precocity. She is a three-quarter sister to Grade 3-winning sprinter Seeking the Sky, who is herself the dam of Met Mile (G1) victor Sahara Sky. Seeking Gabrielle’s other half-siblings include Seeking It All, third in the Spinaway (G1), and Sanford (G2) runner-up Seeking the Money. Although Seeking the Money placed over 1 3/16 miles as an older horse, and another half-sibling by Dynaformer won over hurdles, the immediate family’s highest-caliber performers excelled in the sprinter/miler category.

Seeking Gabrielle’s dam, Seeking Regina, won the Adirondack (G2) as a juvenile. Seeking Regina’s full sister, Oxford Scholar, was also a stakes-winning sprinter at two and the dam of a stakes-winning juvenile sprinter in Smokin Forest (by Forestry and thus a close relative of Nyquist’s dam). Oxford Scholar did produce a stakes winner going 1 1/8 miles on turf – Scholastic Giant, but with plenty of help from the stallion, Giant’s Causeway. Also nearby in the family is Grade 2 winner Just Jenda, whose wheelhouse was between a mile and 1 1/16 miles.

The good news for Nyquist fans is that there’s plenty of quality close up, and the further back you go, the more classic sires appear in the line. Seeking Regina is a daughter of Seeking the Gold, out of a Cox's Ridge mare who won a nine-furlong stakes. The fourth dam is by Arts and Letters, a Hall of Famer who typically passed on his own abundant staying capacity. The next mares in the female line are by *My Babu, Tom Fool, Hyperion, Bosworth, and Bachelor’s Double – a veritable mosaic of classic brilliance and heft.

Will the immediate influences toward high-class speed hold sway? Or is Nyquist drawing upon the reserves from deeper within his pedigree? We’ll find out on the first Saturday in May.

Pedigree information courtesy of Brisnet.com (products 105E and 750, respectively)

Photo courtesy of Benoit.

Also check out the pedigree profiles for Mohaymen and Mor Spirit.