Champion Nyquist resumed light training for the first time since his victory in the Grade I Florida Derby last weekend, jogging twice around the Keeneland oval on a chilly Saturday morning.
Exercise rider Jonny Garcia had his hands full with the current Kentucky Derby favorite as they tracked along the wrong way on the Keeneland rail with assistant trainer Jack Sisterson on the pony beside them. Nyquist was originally slated to return to the track on Thursday but trainer Doug O’Neill opted to keep him walking the shedrow an extra couple days after the unbeaten colt was found to have a slightly elevated white blood cell count.
“Doug said to go out there with the intention of jogging once (around) and if Jonny feels like you need to go two, go two,” Sisterson said. “In the first eighth of a mile jogging him, Jonny looked and said ‘We’re going to have to go two (times around).’ Starting off, he (Nyquist) wanted to do more than jog but then he relaxed great and took everything in. Jonny said he felt great so we’re all happy.”
An elevated white blood cell count can indicate the presence of infection. However, Sisterson said Nyquist never did have a temperature and O’Neill posted on his Facebook page Friday that the latest round of bloodwork on the colt “came back perfect.”
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“We’re just happy to get him back on the track today,” Sisterson said. “It’s kind of a relief. I know Nyquist more than anyone wanted to get back out there.”
Nyquist is slated to go to the track again on Sunday but Sisterson was unsure yet if the son of Uncle Mo would jog again or resume galloping.
Owned by Reddam Racing, Nyquist has won all seven of his career starts and handed Shadwell Stable’s Mohaymen his first career loss when he captured the Florida Derby by 3 1/4 lengths last Saturday. He captured the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Keeneland last October to cap off a campaign that saw him earn the Eclipse Award for champion 2-year-old male and has career earnings of $3,322,600, which would make him the richest horse to ever start in the Kentucky Derby.