Why Nyquist Will Likely Remain in California

Nyquist stayed undefeated in winning the 2016 Kentucky Derby.

Nyquist after winning the 2016 Kentucky Derby.

Nyquist and his connections may have racked up the frequent flier miles during the first half of his campaign, but something tells me that they will keep the star son of Uncle Mo in his home state of California from now on.

In a statement after Nyquist’s latest work, a half mile in :48.60, trainer Doug O’Neill mentioned several targets for Nyquist’s next start. Among them was the San Diego Handicap, a race that is not age-restricted to three-year-olds.

While this race would likely pit Nyquist against Dubai World Cup winner, California Chrome, it would offer more benefits than shipping eastwards.

While shipping out to the East Coast would provide Nyquist with the luxury of being able to compete in age-restricted races, it would make it so that he would have to deliver his best effort for each start. The reason for this is because a loss against anyone in his own age group, especially those that are nipping at his heels, could cost him the year-end championship.

Another con to going East is the likelihood of constant shipping. Doug O’Neill has a large stable, so it is unlikely that he’d be able to send Nyquist to the East for an extended period of time. This would mean sending Nyquist out for the race, bringing him back, and then shipping out again for his next start. This could cause a lot of wear and tear, leaving Nyquist worn down by the time the Breeders’ Cup Classic rolls around.

If Nyquist were to stay in California to prep for the Breeders’ Cup there are a bevy of benefits and very little downside.

Obviously staying in California would mean that Nyquist would run into two titans in California Chrome and Beholder, but a defeat at their hands doesn’t damage him nearly as much as a loss to a fellow three-year-old in the pursuit of an Eclipse Award. On the flip side, a win strengthens his hold over the division, challenging his peers to do the same in order to overtake him.

With the above knowledge, the connections could prep Nyquist the way they would like, using each race as a building block, instead of feeling the pressure of needing to win.

Nyquist's connections celebrate in the stands at Churchill Downs.

Nyquist’s connections celebrate in the stands at Churchill Downs.

Another good reason to keep Nyquist in his home state is that it is his home.

That means no long plane trips back and forth across the country, leaving the defending champion much fresher for his Classic assault.

Reason number three to keep him in California is because that is where the Breeders’ Cup will be held this year. What sense does it make to ship him out of state, causing an unnecessary drain, when he can prepare in his home state?

Finally, we all know that the connections have been known to race where the most money is. Well, in this case, the money is in California. Currently there is a $1 million bonus offered to any horse that can sweep the Pacific Classic, Awesome Again, and Breeders’ Cup Classic.  That is $1 million, in addition to an already bolstered purse of $6 million for the Classic. Obviously, it isn’t a sure thing for Nyquist to get the bonus, as he would have to win all three of the previously mentioned races, but the Florida Derby/Kentucky Derby double bonus had the same stipulation and that did not deter the connections.

Would seeing Nyquist ship out for the big summer races be awesome? Heck yes it would!

Is there a chance Nyquist still could ship East Coast? Yes, there is. However, when weighing the pros and cons of shipping vs staying home, it really makes no sense to ship eastward. That is why I highly doubt we will see Nyquist anywhere except for California, for the remainder of 2016.

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily state or reflect those of US Racing.

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