Nyquist: 2016 Kentucky Derby's horse to beat

Nyquist named the favorite to win Kentucky Derby
Nyquist named the favorite to win Kentucky Derby

If you haven't heard the name Nyquist, chances are you will. The three-year-old thoroughbred colt is the horse to beat at this year's Kentucky Derby, entering Churchill Downs undefeated at 7-0 and as bettors' early top pick.

"The two guys who scout horses for me … they loved the way the horse previewed. He didn't do the fastest preview, but they loved the way he covered the ground, his stride was so efficient," said Nyquist's owner, Canadian-born businessman J. Paul Reddam of Reddam Racing.

Reddam liked what he saw as well. He purchased Nyquist for $400,000 at the Fasig-Tipton sale in March of 2015. Their instincts were right. Just over a year later, Nyquist has gone on to earn more than $3 million in his seven races.

This isn't Reddam's first run at history. The 60-year-old businessman formed, along Doug O'Neill, the team behind Derby and Preakness winner I'll Have Another in 2012. But right now, he's focused on Nyquist.

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"This is the most exciting one that we have been part of, just because we are undefeated," said O'Neill.

Nyquist's name may be familiar to fans of the NHL or Detroit Red Wings fan. The Reddam Racing horse was named after the Red Wings hockey player Gustav Nyquist.

"Reddam loves the Red Wings and has named other horses after other players," said O'Neill.

Now that the Red Wings season has come to a close, Reddam said he has a spot at the Derby for Gustav come May 7 at Churchill Downs.

He's the alpha male. In the barn of about 80 horses, he throws a fit unless he gets his breakfast first.
J. Paul Reddam
Reddam Racing

"Nyquist is all class," meaning very responsive to the jockey, Reddam said. "If you asked me to describe Nyquist the hockey player, he's very classy, soft-spoken and plays the game at a high level."

Off the track, Nyquist is drawing revenue beyond just the $3.3 million in prize money. His team recently signed a deal with Breathe Right Nasal Strips and is currently working on at least one other sponsorship deal.

"It's a natural fit, as Nyquist also wears a nasal strip," said Angie Stevens, talent manager at Meticulous Talent Management.

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Born in Kentucky at Summerhill Farm, just 70 miles from Churchill Downs, Nyquist is a horse that O'Neill described as very mature and comfortable in his skin. "He thrives on attention, but his desire to win is probably his biggest strength," he added.

"He's the alpha male," Reddam added. "In the barn of about 80 horses, he throws a fit unless he gets his breakfast first."

As the number-one horse going into the Derby, O'Neill said the biggest threat to Nyquist is an injury. It's a threat his team knows well. Four years ago, a career-ending injury dashed I'll have Another's Triple Crown attempt just one day before the Belmont Stakes.

That experience left a lasting impact: "At the time, I remember thinking, if the team can survive this they can survive anything."

Reddam said his group has tried to be more balanced in their training with Nyquist, making sure to give him plenty of rest. "When it comes to the Derby, besides having a good horse, you need a lot of luck to win," he said. "You could get wiped out at any time."