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Kentucky Derby and Horse Racing at The Downey Profile®

Playing It by Ear with Nyquist....


Breeze Depends on Weather

Doug O’Neill is back in Lexington trying to track the weather in Kentucky for Nyquist's next workout, which is famously unpredictable at this time of year.

“If it is like it is now,” O’Neill said today, “he’ll go about 7:00. If not, well, we will just play that by ear. We could wait a day and gallop on the training track and then come back and work Saturday.”

Rain is expected to begin late Thursday afternoon with isolated thunderstorms forecast to remain in the Lexington area until late Friday afternoon.

On Thursday morning, Nyquist backtracked around Keeneland’s 1 1/16-mile track twice under exercise rider Jonny Garcia. Alongside a pony with assistant Jack Sisterson aboard, Nyquist walked to the eighth pole before jogging with the pony for the remainder of his exercise.

Nyquist ran his perfect record to seven races with a victory in the Florida Derby. He's scheduled to have his final major pre-Derby work at Keeneland next Friday, April 29, and ship to Churchill Downs the following day.

“He probably would go to Churchill Downs on Saturday,” O’Neill said. “Usually, if they come out of the work well, we would ship the next day.”

O’Neill returned to Lexington in the wee hours of Thursday from Southern California to oversee preparations for what could be a second Kentucky Derby victory.

I’ll Have Another won the Run for the Roses in 2012 while under O'Neill's care. Like Nyquist, the Derby represented the third start of the year for the 3-year-old, but some of the similarities end there.

“I’ll Have Another struggled his 2-year-old season,” O’Neill said. “Nyquist was brilliant as a 2-year-old, built a solid foundation and was mentally strong.”

With Nyquist, O’Neill knew he had a serious racehorse on his hands early – the colt’s racing debut. “The Reddams paid $400,000 for him, so we were optimistic,” O’Neill said. “His first start was strong.”

Edited Keeneland release with additional content by Dick Downey

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