Has anyone ever noticed that Triple Crowns occur in clusters, typically in threes?
Sir Barton was the lone Triple Crown champ of the 1910s; however, he won before the term had even been coined.
In the 1930s, we saw Gallant Fox, Omaha, and War Admiral. Then, in the ‘40s, there came the typical three (Whirlaway, Count Fleet and Assault) plus a bonus in the brilliant Citation.
After Citation, a 25-year drought occurred, after which the the 1970s witnessed not only three Triple Crown victors, but one that was brilliant enough to set track records in all three (Secretariat). The ‘70s also gave us the first ever back-to-back Triple Crown champs, in the form of Seattle Slew in 1977 and Affirmed in 1978.
After that trio, racing waited 37 long years before being rescued by American Pharoah, who stole our hearts in the Kentucky Derby, took our breath away in the Preakness and, then, left us in tears of amazement and joy after the Belmont.
I had a feeling that American Pharoah would be the beginning of a new cluster, I just had no idea that the next Triple Crown could occur as soon as one year later.
Nyquist seems to have it all.
He has brilliant speed, but doesn’t need the lead, so he is very tactical. His build is long, lovely and sleek — and his natural talent is off the charts. He also has an ironclad will to win, which is why he is now eight for eight after annexing the Kentucky Derby.
In taking the first jewel of the Triple Crown, the colt from the first crop of Uncle Mo was never less than than four lengths from the near-record-breaking opening fractions.
The opening splits of :22.58, :45.72, and 1:10.40 typically cause any horses within 6-7 lengths of the pace to collapse, but, instead of faltering, Nyquist kept going. He surged to the lead, wresting it away from a game Gun Runner, before holding off a late charge by familiar rival Exaggerator.
The final time was 2.01.31, which is the fastest running of the Kentucky Derby since Funny Cide, the gutsy gelding, took the race in 2003.
With this win, Nyquist defied the makers of both Dosage Profiles and Beyer Speed Figures. It was said that horse with a DI of 4.00 or higher couldn’t win. Nyquist was dismissed by some because his DI was 7.00. Only one horse in Kentucky Derby history won with a higher DI, but it was later revised down to an “acceptable” number.
Nyquist earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 94 in his final prep. Only two horses have won the Kentucky Derby with a BSF of 95 or less and one, ironically, was I’ll Have Another, who has the same connections as Nyquist.
Despite his final prep being deemed “too slow” by speed figure handicappers, Nyquist still ran incredibly fast in the Kentucky Derby and, in doing so, became the first undefeated champion to win the race since Seattle Slew. He also became only the second horse to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and Kentucky Derby.
At this point, I have a hard time envisioning anyone beating this colt.
He just defeated a full Kentucky Derby field, despite being rated as too slow and not having the proper pedigree requirements and, not only did he win, he did it with ease.
His running style is very similar to last year’s Triple Crown winner, American Pharoah, in that he is fast enough to obtain the lead whenever asked, but he doesn’t need it. This, plus his already impressive resume makes him a very legitimate Triple Crown threat.
Obviously, he will have to remain sound, and he will need to be able to endure the grind of three races in five weeks without fatigue. However, if he can do that, Nyquist has proven fast enough and versatile enough to become the second straight Triple Crown winner.
Understand that I am not crowning him off of one race; he still has obstacles to overcome, such as those I mentioned earlier. What I am saying is that off of his Kentucky Derby performance, he is a legitimate threat to become the 13th Triple Crown winner — and I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if he did take the whole enchilada.