Doug O'Neill has been here before.
In 2005, the California-based trainer won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile with Stevie Wonderboy. On Saturday, O'Neill repeated the feat when Nyquist took the $2 million Juvenile at Keeneland, beating Swipe by a half-length.
Nyquist owner Paul Reddam hopes to have a déjà vu moment of his own. He teamed with O'Neill to win the 2012 Kentucky Derby with I'll Have Another, and now Reddam appears to have the early 2016 Derby favorite.
"When is the Derby?" joked Reddam when asked if he already was looking forward to the first Saturday in May.
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Nyquist paid $11.40, $6.20 and $4 for the win. Swipe, trained by Keith Desormeaux, last year's Juvenile-winning trainer with Texas Red, paid $25 and $13 for second. Brody's Cause paid $5 to show.
Nyquist was sired by 2010 Juvenile winner Uncle Mo, making this the third time a Juvenile winner has sired a Juvenile winner. Capote, the 1986 winner, sired 1996 winner Boston Harbor. Unbridled's Song, the 1995 winner, sired Midshipman in 2008.
Saturday was Nyquist's fifth win in as many starts.
"He's five-for five special," Reddam said.
It was O'Neill's brother Dennis, a bloodstock agent, who liked Nyquist from the first time he saw him.
"I called Paul right away and I owe a lot to Jamie (McClamont). Jamie helped out a ton and Jamie really, really loved him too," said Dennis O'Neill. "From day one, Jamie and I were like, this is one we've got to have in the barn. We were surprised. We thought he'd be really, really expensive."
"Four-hundred thousand dollars isn't that expensive nowadays," Reddam interrupted.
In his debut, Nyquist won a 5-furlong race at Santa Anita in June. He followed with a win in the Grade 2 Best Pal at Delmar in August. Nyquist came to Lexington off back-to-back wins in the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity and the Grade 1 Front Runner at Santa Anita.
Nyquist's biggest obstacle in the Juvenile was his No. 13 post position in the field of 14. Because of that, Doug O'Neill and jockey Mario Gutierrez talked about strategy before the race.
"And it was all about doing something exactly different than what happened," joked Doug O'Neill.
"He's probably the most beautiful horse I've ever bought," Dennis O'Neill said. "I cannot wait until he turns 3 and starts to fill out."
Of course, there is this big race for 3-year-olds in May at Churchill Downs.
"The early Kentucky Derby favorite thing doesn't work out too often," Reddam said. "So I think what we're going to do is just absorb what happened today and we'll worry about the Derby in a few months."