Nyquist becomes 4th West Coast horse in 5 years to win Kentucky Derby

Photo by Zoe Metz

Photo by Zoe Metz

Once again displaying the heart of a champion, Santa Anita-based Nyquist became the fourth Southern California or Santa Anita-based Kentucky Derby winner in the last five years Saturday with a stirring 1 ½ length triumph over Santa Anita Derby winner Exaggerator in the world’s biggest race.

To paraphrase the late Yogi Berra, “It was déjà vu all over again,” as the Santa Anita-based connections of trainer Doug O’Neill, jockey Mario Gutierrez and owner J. Paul Reddam followed up on their 2012 Kentucky Derby win with I’ll Have Another, who had also won that year’s Santa Anita Derby.

A first-out maiden winner at The Great Race Place on June 15, Nyquist also won the Grade I FrontRunner Stakes here on Sept. 26 and the Grade II San Vicente Stakes on Feb. 15, prior to taking Gulfstream Park’s Grade I Florida Derby April 2.

“We are both elated and proud that Nyquist ran so well in winning yesterday’s Derby,” said Joe Morris, Senior Vice President, West Coast Operations for the Stronach Group. “We want to sincerely thank Paul and Zillah Reddam, Team O’Neil and everyone involved with the horse for being so supportive of our racing program here at Santa Anita on a year-round basis.

“The fact that we’ve produced four out of the last five Derby winners speaks for itself. We have a great facility, a tremendous main track, stakes program and year-round weather that enables our horsemen to develop champions on a consistent basis. Again, we congratulate Nyquist and wish him all the best as he continues on to Pimlico on May 21.”

Any questions regarding the son of Uncle Mo’s ability to get the classic distance of a mile and a quarter were summarily dismissed, as Nyquist sat a close second behind fast splits of 22.40, 45.60, 1:10.40, 1:35.61, took the lead turning for home and finished up in 2:01.31.

Trainer Keith Desormeaux’s Exaggerator, winner of the Grade I Santa Anita Derby on April 9, completed the Santa Anita-based exacta, as he sprinted home from far off the pace in the 20-horse Derby field to finish 3 ¼ lengths in front of Gun Runner.

In case you are wondering, this is a Santa Anita Park press release and could they be any prouder? The four horses are : I’ll Have Another, California Chrome, American Pharoah and now Nyquist!