Friday, July 08, 2016 1:09 PM
Team Nyquist Remains Noncommittal Regarding Betfair.com Haskell Start
By Dean Keppler
After weeks of speculation it appears that fans of the champion 2-year-old and Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist will have to wait at least a few more days-- or perhaps even a week-- before learning the fate of where the superstar 3-year-old will be making his next highly-anticipated start. After confiding and conferring with the Reddams (owners Paul and Zillah) on Wednesday July 7, Team Nyquist lead by trainer Doug O’Neill remained hesitant to pledge that his celebrity 3-year-old and his Southern California entourage would indeed head east to the beaches of the Jersey Shore.
Home Sweet Home
In a perfect world, O’Neill and his crew would have preferred to stay home out west and avoid the 3,000-mile trek across country, but the reality is that there aren’t any star-studded upcoming 3-year-old events to choose from locally. Besides the Betfair.com Haskell, there were potentially two other races under consideration for the Derby winner. The first race being kicked around as a potential start was (and apparently still is) the Grade 2 $200,000 San Diego Handicap at Del Mar on July 23. In that upcoming event, however, Nyquist would be forced to meet older runners, which is something the connections understandably were hoping to avoid until the Breeders’ Cup Classic showdown on November 5. The other possibility, which is still under consideration, is the Grade 2 $600,000 Jim Dandy at Saratoga on Saturday July 30, which would also obviously involve extensive travel.
This week the Monmouth Park senior management staff remained cautiously optimistic that Team Nyquist would indeed enter the Betfair.com Haskell. Bob Kulina, the president of Darby Development, which operates Monmouth Park on behalf of the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, had these notions published in the Daily Racing Form on the probability of the Derby winner making the race. “I’m optimistic he will come,” Kulina said. “I’ve talked to O’Neill and feel good about it. He’s under consideration.”
Nyquist, the sophomore son of Uncle Mo, has not run since he was third in the Preakness on May 21 when suffering his only loss in nine career starts. The strapping colt has worked three times at Santa Anita since he resumed training after an illness forced him to miss the Belmont Stakes, and all indications are those works have been nothing short of fabulous. O’Neill had this to say in Horsercaingnation.com regarding Nyquist’s most recent work on July 4. “He worked great, 48 and change and (galloped out) a two-minute lick from the wire to the half in under two minutes. He went really well. We’re really happy with him. He’s cooling out great so we’re all smiling right now.”
There were 30 invitations sent out this week for the Betfair.com Haskell invitational. Regardless of what the final entries look like, Monmouth Park bettors and fans can be rest assured that the final field will not be short on talent and therefore present numerous lucrative wagering opportunities.
As of this writing those under serious consideration for the race are Steve Asmussen’s Gun Runner (Grade 2 Risen Star and Louisiana Derby winner); Dale Roman’s pair of Brody’s Cause (Grade Blue Grass winner) & Cherry Wine (2nd in the Preakness); American Freedom (recent winner of the Iowa Derby), and perhaps one or two other 3-year-olds from the Baffert camp such as Arrogate (recent allowance winner); Collected (Lexington Stakes winner) and the Rebel Stakes victor Cupid.
Two other potential Betfair,com Haskell potential starters have presumably made other commitments. Keith and Kent Desormeaux’s Exaggerator, who beat Nyquist in the Preakness, is pursuing a summer campaign at Saratoga. He is expected to run in the Jim Dandy and then the $1.25 million Travers Stakes on Aug. 27. On Thursday afternoon the connections of Creator (the recent winner of the Belmont Stakes by a neck over the Todd Pletcher-trained Destin) also stated they were heading to upstate New York, and were likely to run in the Grade 2 $600,000 Jim Dandy at Saratoga on Saturday July 30. Speaking of Pletcher, although he hasn’t made a public commitment to the race, there’s an excellent chance that he’ll have at least one 3-year-old represented in the champion event.
Some other stellar 3-year-olds invited to the Betfair.com Haskell that weren’t mentioned previously include: Adventist, Dalmore, My Man Sam, Donegal Moon, Shagaf, Awesome Slew, Economic Model, Songbird, Awesome Speed, Stradivari, Gift Box, Suddenbreakingnews, Governor Malibu, Sunny Ridge, Connect, Swipe, Mo Tom, Thatlookonyerface, Mohayme, and Tom’s Ready.
As we cited in the two previous blogs, New Jersey residents will be making history this year as locals will be able to bet the first Betfair.com Haskell on the exchange. Exchange wagering was launched on May 10 and now includes the following tracks: Charles Town, Delta Downs, Emerald Downs, Evangeline Downs, Fort Erie, Louisiana Downs, Meadowlands Harness, Mohawk Harness, Monmouth Park, Mountaineer Park, Prairie Meadows, Presque Isle Downs, Tampa Bay Downs, Woodbine and Will Rogers Downs. As each and every week approaches, the Betfair.com management team hopes to add other race signals to its ever-growing stable.
For more information on New Jersey exchange wagering, go to: https://exchange.us.betfair.com/#/ or follow https://twitter.com/BetfairUSA
About Dean Keppler
Dean Keppler has been handicapping Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds for over 30 years, and is the former Director of DRF Press for Daily Racing Form. He's authored two handicapping books for DRF titled: “Trainer Angles” and “Betting the Kentucky Derby,” and has published several handicapping articles for Horseplayer Magazine. Keppler is an NHC qualifier, and his work has appeared in Forbes Magazine, Paulick Report, New York Times, The Saratoga Special, and several other prolific publications.