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Reddam hoping Nyquist can light the lamp in Florida Derby

Derby Watch: DRF Top 20 list for Mar. 30, 2016

These days, owner Paul Reddam has one eye on the Kentucky Derby preps and another on the National Hockey League standings, for as much as he wants to get to and win the Derby again, he also wants his beloved Detroit Red Wings to keep alive their 24-year streak of making the playoffs.

Horses and hockey have been Reddam’s passions since he was a youth, and with Nyquist — his unbeaten champion colt who has his final Derby prep on Saturday in the Florida Derby at Gulfstream — he’s found the best way yet to combine the two.

Nyquist is named for Gustav Nyquist, a forward on the Red Wings. Reddam, who grew up just across the Detroit River from Detroit in Windsor, Ontario, has supported them since his youth.

Pedigree profile: Fellowship

The Florida-bred Fellowship will face a tall order in his home state’s biggest race, the Grade 1, $1 million Florida Derby on Saturday.

Reddam said there was no particular reason why the Uncle Mo colt he purchased last year at Fasig-Tipton was deemed the one who would be named Nyquist as opposed to, say, Mrazek or Tatar.

“When you go to name horses, you often find that just about any name you can think of has already been taken,” Reddam said. “Surnames make good horse names.”

Reddam said he named several of his current 3-year-olds after Red Wings “more to annoy Erik Johnson” — a defenseman on the Colorado Avalanche — “who I’m partners with on some horses.”

Reddam had an early connection to the Red Wings. In addition to his father, John, having season tickets for a few seasons, his mother, Grace, was a personal assistant to John Ziegler, who at the time was an attorney working for the Norris family, which owned the Red Wings. Ziegler eventually became president of the NHL.

Reddam’s enthusiasm for the Red Wings survived moves to Toronto for grad school and then to Southern California — where he finished his schooling and then went into business — and 14 consecutive sub-.500 seasons in the 1970s and 1980s. Over the last 20 years, the Red Wings have won the Stanley Cup four times.

Reddam himself reached the highest point as a horse owner in 2012 when his colt I’ll Have Another — named not for Stanley Cup titles but for Reddam’s penchant for snacking on cookies — scored a 15-1 upset victory in the Kentucky Derby. He then won the Preakness before being injured and scratched on the eve of the Belmont Stakes. Nyquist, like I’ll Have Another, is trained by O’Neill and ridden by Mario Gutierrez.

“I’m more nervous with Nyquist than I was four years ago,” Reddam said. “With I’ll Have Another, he was out of the spotlight until he won the Derby. This is a little more uncomfortable. You don’t get nervous when you’re a long price. There are a lot of expectations with a favorite. If you get too high, you crash. I’m trying to manage my expectations.”

That goes for Nyquist’s winning streak as well as the Red Wings’ playoff streak.