LOUISVILLE, Ky. — They did things a small back on a morning of a Kentucky Derby, toasting 9 hours before a competition went off instead of clinking eyeglasses after.
Three years ago, Doug O’Neill served as a tutor for Goldencents, a equine partially owned by Louisville basketball manager Rick Pitino. Team O’Neill and Team Louisville connected, even if a equine didn’t (Goldencents finished 17th in a 19-horse Derby field), so when O’Neill came to city again — this time with Derby favorite, Nyquist — a tutor done a rounds with his aged cronies.
On Wednesday morning, O’Neill and 6 members of his racing group found themselves staring down eyeglasses of cold sips of Patron china during a home of Vinny Tatum, a Louisville apparatus manager.
A tradition was born, steady on Thursday and Friday morning.
How could they presumably contend no on Saturday?
“He was superstitious,” Tatum joked about O’Neill.
“Oh no, no, that wasn’t me,” O’Neill pronounced with a smirk. “Hey, we gotta do something to take a corner off each now and then.”
The corner was there all week, even if O’Neill didn’t wish to acknowledge it. He was respectful and pleasing though not accurately forthcoming, refusing to take a attract when people asked if he felt like his equine wasn’t removing a correct due, heedful when asked about Nyquist’s talent.
Nyquist wins Kentucky Derby to stay unbeaten
Nyquist hold off a hard-charging Exaggerator to win a Kentucky Derby by 1¼ lengths Saturday during Churchill Downs and extend his dominant strain to 8 starts.
Around 7 p.m. ET on Saturday night, as Nyquist roared to a wire, holding off hard-charging Exaggerator to win a Kentucky Derby, O’Neill’s corner was finally released, a floodgates spilling out a truth.
“Now we have to contend it,” pronounced a tutor who won a Derby with I’ll Have Another in 2012. “This is unequivocally a best equine I’ve ever been around.”
And now, before a rose petals have even wilted, it is time for a unavoidable follow-up: Is he good adequate to win a Triple Crown?
It took 37 years for equine racing to finish a Triple Crown drought, a is-he-good-enough optimist’s query giving approach to a will-any-horse-ever-be-good-enough-again pessimism.
“Mom, light a candle during Sunday Mass, will you?” O’Neill pronounced when asked about Nyquist’s chances.
The existence is, he does have a possibility — a good one.
Nyquist was 7-for-7 streamer into a Derby, creation him a initial dominant leader here given Big Brown in 2008. (The flip side to that statistic? No undefeated equine has won a Triple Crown given Seattle Slew in 1977.)
Nyquist won this Derby with relations ease, as well, with manoeuvre Mario Gutierrez running him from only off a lead to forward of a container with a late and wilful kick. The manoeuvre termed a outing “amazing,” revelation he never even knew — or unequivocally cared — about Exaggerator’s late surge.
“He’s not going to concede another equine to kick him. He always has something left,” Gutierrez pronounced of Nyquist. “If someone’s entrance late, he can win by 5 lengths or he can win by a nose. If anyone is entrance late, I’ll know he’ll have something else.”
Gutierrez, O’Neill and everybody else compared with Nyquist had copiousness of certainty in a equine all along, and he was positively feted like a favorite.
Casual visitors to a backside done a indicate to wander by his barn, and during early-morning workouts people seemed to compensate a small some-more courtesy when he breezed by on a track.
While his owners on Saturday morning were sipping their tequila, a equine was holding a season out of Lord Stanley’s Cup. NHL caretakers like to take a Stanley Cup around to large shindigs annually, and with Nyquist named after Detroit Red Wings actor Gustav Nyquist, popping by his stable seemed to make good sense.
Except a horse’s favorite standing always seemed to come with a good sip of skepticism.
This Derby margin wasn’t accurately greeted with a lot of enthusiasm, a 3-year-old stand deliberate delayed and not terribly impressive. That, then, left Nyquist a best of an normal bunch, not accurately giving people a lot of reason to get excited.
It didn’t help, either, that he was competing opposite another equine that wasn’t even on a Churchill Downs grounds: American Pharoah still casts a prolonged shade around a sport, with his competition to a Triple Crown final year and indirect wins following creation for some large horseshoes to fill.
But with this Derby win, a detractors will now expected give over to a dreamers. Las Vegas oddsmaker William Hill has set a “yes” on a Triple Crown during +250. He was +700 before to a Derby.
“The pivotal word is obvious,” pronounced Keith Desormeaux, a tutor of Exaggerator. “I schooled that in San Vicente. Mohaymen [who was dissapoint by Nyquist] schooled that in a Florida Derby. He keeps training us each day. Mucho honour for Nyquist.”
That, of course, isn’t news to O’Neill or anyone else around a stable this week. The trainer’s corner wasn’t from regard or even worry. It was some-more a invulnerability mechanism, a approach to sentinel off a doubters and keep a negativity out of his way.
Which is because it was a totally opposite tutor who done his approach from a winner’s round to a postrace news conference. High-fiving strangers as he walked by a trench of fans, he hugged aged friends and joked easily, silly with his win, though even some-more happy with a equine that he has.
“Hey DK,” he pronounced to a friend, interlude a phalanx of cameras and military officers around him to bear cuddle a friend.
“Where are we going?” his crony responded.
“Molly Malone’s,” O’Neill responded, fixing a renouned bar and grill in Louisville.
No doubt there would be some-more toasts, a ideal celebratory sandwich for a day that started with 9 a.m. tequila shots, before a nearby emergence press assembly during a stable with “a lot of H2O and a lot of aspirin.”
On Monday, it is on to Baltimore and a May 21 Preakness for Nyquist and Team O’Neill. Oh, and one other person.
“Oh yeah, Vinny’s coming,” O’Neil joked. “He’s good luck.”