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Nyquist Pedigree Fine for Kentucky Derby 142

Nyquist Pedigree Fine for Kentucky Derby 142: Undefeated Nyquist currently competes for the top spot in many Kentucky Derby (GI) Top 5 or 10 lists, but only by default. The skeptics focus heavily on his pedigree which features Uncle Mo on top and a Forestry mare on the bottom. For many handicappers, those two names alone eliminate him from consideration.

Nyquist Kentucky Derby 142

On the assumption Nyquist fares well in his nine-furlong debut (the Florida Derby at Gulfstream) coming soon, bettors should not be so quick to dismiss Nyquist based on pedigree. Photo: Zoe Metz/Clockers’ Corner

If successful in the Derby, the talented colt owned by Reddam Racing and trained by Doug O’Neill, will prove experts wrong. Yet, at first glance, his pedigree is not that bad, or at least lacks enough evidence to disqualify him.

For instance, think about Uncle Mo and his progeny’s record at 10 furlongs. None of them ever tried it!

Without evidence of his foals at longer distances, the sire’s actual record and pedigree must be analyzed. Admittedly, Uncle Mo ran as a precocious type who seemed better at shorter distances. He swept all three starts as a 2-year-old colt in 2010, including the one-turn Champagne (GI) and two-turn Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI).

When he returned next spring at Gulfstream Park in a race “timely written” for him in the Timely Writer Stakes, he won a one-turn event again easily over Rattlesnake Bridge, who turned out to be a decent horse. The special aura came off though in the Wood Memorial (GI) at Aqueduct, where he faded to third and lost to Toby’s Corner.

Perhaps the Timely Writer, which appeared to be a good idea at the time, did not prepare Uncle Mo sufficiently for a more challenging prep such as the Wood Memorial. He almost won the Gulfstream race too easily.

Uncle Mo went on the bench with a mysterious liver problem and came back in August, where he finished a fine second in the King’s Bishop Stakes (GI) at Saratoga. Trainer Todd Pletcher sent him to the Kelso Handicap a month later, and Uncle Mo displayed his brilliance again in the mud going one-turn around Belmont Park.

Horses who run in high-level one-turn dirt races around late summer and fall normally point towards the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (GI) or Dirt Mile (GI). Instead, Pletcher and owner Mike Repole decided to give the 10-furlong Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) at Churchill Downs a try, off a one-turn Belmont prep race with only four horses.

Unfortunately, Uncle Mo finished 10th. The race chart looks a bit unusual, in that the entire field was separated by a few lengths at the end. Also, besides Game On Dude, closing horses dominated the finish.

Without one more 10-furlong race to study from Uncle Mo, it is difficult to state he was not able to go the distance.

In addition, horses who ran as a sprinter or miler in their careers sired Kentucky Derby winners before. Elusive Quality, whose big graded stakes victories came in one-turn grass races at Belmont Park, sired 2004 Derby champion Smarty Jones. Also, sprinter/miler Distorted Humor sired 2003 Derby victor Funny Cide.

As for Nyquist’s dam side, it is not as poor as initially expected.

Even Steve Haskin of Blood-Horse dismissed critics of the bottom half of Nyquist’s family in his blog.

“Nyquist’s broodmare sire is out of a Pleasant Colony mare, his second dam is by Seeking the Gold, and his bottom line traces to (two-mile) Jockey Club Gold Cup winners and Hall of Famers Buckpasser and Arts and Letters,” the award-winning turf writer wrote in his most recent “Derby Dozen” column.

Seeking Gabrielle, the dam of Nyquist, raced in claiming races (which means her record has less credibility in determining her favored distances) and only has one other unraced 2-year-old filly.

The dam of Seeking Gabrielle, Seeking Regina, won two races and they were both sprints. However, she had only one attempt at route, and it came in a one-turn Belmont race versus the elite-filly Flanders.

Seeking Regina had an extensive broodmare career. Her other daughter Seeking It All placed in a couple of graded stakes races at Saratoga, but she won a one-turn route at Belmont next year by over seven lengths. Furthermore, another foal named Seeking No More had enough stamina to last in a steeplechase event over two miles!

Yet another one of Seeking Regina’s foals, Seeking the Sky, produced a top-class one-turn dirt horse named Sahara Sky. While Sahara Sky struggled in two-turn routes, his last effort came in the San Diego Handicap (GII) at the twilight of his career, and a couple of his previous tries were in grass races.

On the assumption Nyquist fares well in his nine-furlong debut (the Florida Derby at Gulfstream) coming soon, bettors should not be so quick to dismiss Nyquist based on pedigree. It is easy to become caught up believing what others believe. Ignore what anyone else wrote, study the family and come to a unique conclusion.