Doug O'Neill was admittedly a bit anxious prior to Nyquist 's sixth workout Jan. 24 in preparation for his 3-year-old debut, but the trainer got to take a deep breath as the undefeated son of Uncle Mo made his way back to Barn 88 on the Santa Anita Park backside.
Exercise rider Jonny Garcia waved his whip in the air and pointed it to the sky with a wide smile on his face, locking eyes with the trainer.
"That's what we want to see—doing his Frankie Dettori," O'Neill quipped.
The Reddam Racing runner worked wire-to-wire Sunday morning at Santa Anita, but received an official time of 1:15 3/5 for six furlongs from the Santa Anita clockers.
"Jonny was so excited. He said he felt so great and recovered so quickly," O'Neill said of Nyquist, who scheduled to make his first start of 2016 in the seven-furlong San Vicente Stakes (gr. II) Feb. 15 at Santa Anita. "All smiles. We're one day closer to where we want to be."
As O'Neill watched his three-time grade I winner take a lap around the racetrack, he announced every furlong fraction off his stopwatch—:16, :14, :13, :12 4/5, :12 2/5, :12 2/5, :12 4/5, and :11 4/5. The reason for the two-turn drill dates back to his first try taking a full trip around the Santa Anita dirt course.
"Early on in his career—in the FrontRunner (gr. I), the first time we went two turns with him—it really seemed like he confused the seven-eighths pole for the three-eighths pole," O'Neill said. "A lot of these horses are so trained for one turn, when they hit the first turn they run down the lane. So we're just trying to get him to where he's chilled on that first turn. You can't do it with the average horse, but with a smart horse, you can."
Unless inclement weather interferes, Nyquist is set to continue his seven-day work schedule leading into the San Vicente and should breeze again Jan. 31.
Other notable workouts Sunday morning included Kobe's Back (five furlongs, bullet :58 2/5), Wild Dude (three furlongs, :36 4/5), Salutos Amigos (three furlongs, :39 4/5), Ralis (four furlongs, :50 1/5), and Ziconic (five furlongs, 1:01 1/5).