Trainer Doug O'Neill continues to put the foundation under Reddam Racing's champion Nyquist for his first start since a third in the May 21 Preakness Stakes (gr. I), although exactly where that race will be has not yet been revealed.
The Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner worked four furlongs under exercise rider Jonny Garcia in company with maiden stablemate Malware the morning of July 4 at Santa Anita Park, and was clocked in :48 3/5, the same time he posted in his first work back June 17 off the Preakness loss that snapped his eight-race win streak. Between the two, he breezed an easy five furlongs in 1:02.07 in the afternoon before the races June 25 at the California track.
"He worked great today... 48 and change and (galloped out) a two-minute lick from the wire to the half in under two minutes," O'Neill said. "He went really well. We're really happy with him, and he cooled out good. We still have not figured out what race we're pointing toward, but he's back, doing well."
The Nov. 5 Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) is the ultimate target for Nyquist, who could next run in one of the 3-year-old races in the East, or could step up to face older horses—including 2014 Horse of the Year California Chrome —in the July 23 San Diego Handicap (gr. II) at Del Mar.
"I'm going to meet with (owner J.) Paul (Reddam) on Wednesday, so we should know more Thursday," O'Neill said. "You can circle a race like the (Kentucky) Derby when you're heading that way, but that's not the case now. You're at a point where you're going to run him when he's right.
"When you say a specific race and it doesn't work out, there is a lot of second-guessing, so I don't know if my stress level can handle being painted in a corner. We'll let the horse tell us and hopefully it will be soon."