Nyquist Illness Leaves Him Out of Belmont
Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist, who ran third in the Preakness, has been ruled out for the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes June 11. The champion colt came down with a fever that led to an elevated white blood count, and a temperature of 101.2 degree.
“We’re going to put him on stronger antibiotics, get him right, get him back to California and let him relax and recover from the trip,” trainer Doug O’Neill told the Daily Racing Form.
So the Belmont will lose some of its luster with no rematch between Nyquist and Preakness winner Exaggerator.
It is a bummer,” O’Neill said. “It’s like a family member being sick. We’re going to focus on getting him better and we look forward to a summer campaign.”
That will likely include the Jim Dandy on July 30 or Traverse on August 27, although O’Neill says, “We’re not looking at anything yet,” said O’Neill. “Let’s get him right first. It’s hard when you circle a date and they’re not right. We’ll do that, get a couple of works in him, and then set a target.”
Nyquist not running in the Belmont is a blow to racing, but the Uncle Mo colt would have had a very tough time beating Exaggerator and others in the 1 ½ mile distance. With 8 wins in 9 races and earnings in excess of $3.5 million, there wasn’t much to gain for Nyquist at the Belmont. In fact, a poor performance would only hurt his future stud fee, and show further that he’s not a super stamina horse that’s able to get the 1 ½ mile distance.
Nyquist’s accomplishments are still exceptional, and we should enjoy his future and not find so many faults and reasons to discredit the decision to not run in the Belmont. Nyquist is very good for racing, even in a year that lacks the strength and depth of the most recent 3-year-old classes.
No doubt the 1 1/2-mile Belmont loses some of its luster without Nyquist, but Exaggerator can expect to take on a number of rivals from the Derby and Preakness. Among them are Preakness runner-up Cherry Wine and fifth-place finisher Lani, super closer Sudenbreakingnews, front-running Destin and Brody’s Cause. Those three finished 5th, 6th and 7th in the Kentucky Derby. Also Peter Pan runner-up Governor Malibu is also Belmont bound.