Trainer Doug O’Neill and Reddam Racing have made a shocking announcement today. Their 2016 Kentucky Derby winner and Breeders’ Cup Classic hopeful, Nyquist, has called it a career. Nyquist retires with a handsome record of 8-0-1 in 11 starts with nearly $5.2 million in career earnings.
The decision to sent Nyquist to stud was made because of poor preparations for the Classic. The three-year old son of Uncle Mo suffered an ankle injury that is not career threatening, but has put him out of the Classic. Rather than rest him heading in to the 2017 campaign, Reddam and O’Neill have simply decided that it was time for him to hang up the saddle.
“Though Nyquist is 100% sound and X-rays are clean, the timing unfortunately precludes us from the dream of having him run in the Breeders’ Cup Classic in our own backyard,” O’Neill said in a brief statement.
Since winning the Kentucky Derby this past year, Nyquist has fallen to 3rd at the Preakness, 4th at the Haskell and 5th at the Pennsylvania Derby. A combination of fatigue, illness and maturing competition contributed to his downfall and it was also apparent during the summer that he simply didn’t have the passion for competition anymore.
This is certainly tough news for the sport of horse racing to digest. For the first time in history, all three Triple Crown winners have retired before the conclusion of the year. Nyquist retires joining Exaggerator (Preakness) and Creator (Belmont), who have also been decommissioned from racing by their own connections. Triple Crown winner American Pharoah was retired at the conclusion of the 2015 season, only after winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Outside of prestige, winning big name races can create a bountiful second career for horses who are put out to stud. American Pharoah opened his stud fee at $200,000 and covered the second most mares this past breeding season. Nyquist retires to Darley in Lexington, Kentucky and will stand for $40,000 which is a pittance compared to his own father, who is fetching around the same as American Pharoah.
Despite the sudden development in the career of a once promising talent, Nyquist retires having captured the attention and adoration of an entire sport. His run leading up to the Kentucky Derby put him at the top of racing for a brief moment in time, and that is a spot that many others never even reach.