Good news and bad news from the Nyquist camp.
The bad news is that Nyquist spiked a fever the day after the race and is definitely out of the Belmont. The good news is that he otherwise came out of the race well physically.
“His legs are fine,” O’Neill said. “We’ve started him on antibiotics and we’ll make an assessment in 10 days to two weeks about getting him back in training.”
O’Neill said at this point plans are up in the air about his summer schedule. “The antibiotics take a lot out of the horse, so our first priority is getting him healthy again. Once we feel he’s up to it we’ll start him jogging and get him back on a training regimen. Right now we don’t have a specific plan other than getting him peaked for the Breeder’s Cup. Once we have an idea how the horse is progressing we’ll look at potential races and make a decision about whether we’ll get him ready in California or back east.”
I asked O’Neill whose idea it was to run Nyquist hard out of the gate. “The plan was all mine,” O’Neill said. “We knew Uncle Lino would go and I told Mario to make sure we won the first turn. We didn’t think Awesome Speed would go as fast as he did and we thought we’d be able to get a clear spot where Nyquist could run his race. We weren’t worried about Uncle Lino, but Awesome Speed and Collector changed our strategy some. By the time Nyquist was clear on the backstretch he was into the bit. He’s such a competitive horse there was no turning back at that point.”
I asked if Nyquist was affected by the track. “The track was definitely safe and he wasn’t having any trouble grabbing hold. But Pimlico is one of those older dirt tracks that can be heavy and tiring when it gets that wet. Running fast early took a lot out of him, but he still showed his competitiveness in the stretch.”
But O’Neill added, “Exaggerator is a very good horse and he ran a great race to win the Preakness. The Desormeaux’s did a wonderful job getting him ready for the race and I want to congratulate them on their victory. I look forward to meeting them again down the road.
“Nyquist is the best horse I’ve ever been around,” O’Neill said. “At this point our only focus is on getting him healthy again. Once he’s back to normal we’ll develop a plan.”
I think we’re all looking forward to the next chapter for Nyquist.