NYQUIST LEADING TEAM O’NEILL TO POST
When the entrants for 141st running of the Preakness head to the paddock area for saddling on May 21, there may be a bit of a role reversal involving the post time favorite. He will be leading his team instead of the other way around.
The brilliance of Thoroughbred hero Nyquist has been on display since his track debut on June 5, 2015 at Santa Anita. Eight races later, he now has eight lifetime wins with victories in five grade 1 races including the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and Kentucky Derby. Cool, calm, and collected, this outstanding son of Uncle Mo has done everything right thus far including set the example for his team of handlers.
“We all feed off him and his vibes,” says trainer Doug O’Neill. “He is just an amazing horse that talks to us in his own way. Nyquist is very calming with his demeanor and he just goes about his business every day with a great attitude. He is a true leader and we have just been following him.”
Team O’Neill is not the only group that has been following behind him. A talented group of other three-year old horses have been chasing him around the track since his maiden victory. For some reason, Nyquist had not gotten much respect despite his marvelous performances. But, perhaps his handling of the 20 horse field in the Kentucky Derby with a swift winning time of 2:01.31 will help him shed his Rodney Dangerfield image. The fifth grade 1 win at a fifth different track in three different states means now Nyquist should be cast into the ZZ Top category…bad and nationwide!
“I think the Kentucky Derby win won over a lot of people,” says O’Neill. “Coming in to the Derby he had already done so much. He has just been an unbelievable talent all along and I think now others are starting to realize.”
The Kentucky Derby win certainly made Nyquist more visible in the eyes of the general public. In becoming the eighth unbeaten Kentucky Derby champion, this grandson of Indian Charlie has also shed a little more light on the nature of his entire team. The fun-loving O’Neill and his bunch have been exposed as the good-natured competitors they have always been. But if you ask the man considered one of the top conditioners in California, he quickly points to his four-legged star as the leader of the party.
“I think every member of our team feels lucky to be shoulder to shoulder with these tremendous athletes,” says O’Neill. “Nyquist is a very talented colt and we all enjoy serving him. I think he understands the love here and he knows we are all just trying to keep it fun. If we are all having fun it is good for the entire group. We love being with him and he is a force that brings us all together.”
As Nyquist looks to add another win to an already breath-taking resume, his team will be following to the starting gates in the Preakness.
“We are ready to rock and roll,” says O’Neill. “We all love Baltimore.”