Two of the three reigning Eclipse Award winners on the grounds put in timed works March 18 at Santa Anita Park, and the third is nearing her first of the season.
Most notable was Reddam Racing's undefeated Nyquist , who covered his standard mile for trainer Doug O'Neill in his penultimate workout in preparation for the April 2 Florida Derby (gr. I).
Starting slowly, the son of Uncle Mo completed the work wire-to-wire in 1:46 and change, according to O'Neill's stopwatch. The trainer had his opening quarter-mile in :31, his first half in :58 4/5, and his final eighth in :11 3/5 under exercise rider Jonny Garcia.
"Just another nice, strong maintenance drill," said O'Neill, who also indicated Nyquist's last workout at Santa Anita before shipping to Gulfstream Park would be in company, likely March 26. "He finished up strong."
Though Santa Anita clockers officially gave Nyquist a time of 1:01 2/5 for five furlongs, O'Neill likes the longer workouts, so the colt can settle early and accelerate late. Showing speed early in one-mile works is not necessary.
"The great Charlie Whittingham said, 'You can work a sprinter two miles and they're still a sprinter. You can work a router three furlongs and they're still a router,' " O'Neill said. "We know what he is. We just want to keep him happy and fit. He's a happy camper. To do what he did, he's hardly drinking any water. That's a sign of a fit horse."
Also on the work tab was Spendthrift Farm's Beholder, who earned her standard "breezing" tag for a :48 4/5 half-mile drill under the watchful eye of trainer Richard Mandella.
"This is the first time I've been on her (to work this year)," said jockey Gary Stevens. "But I've been watching her work. She looks different (and) she feels different. She's stronger (and) smarter. ... She's coming along good. She's happy. I'm happy. She made my day."
The nine-time grade I winner's gallop out to five furlongs, however, may have been the most impressive aspect of the breeze.
The three-time champion galloped out in 1:00 4/5 according to Mandella's stopwatch and was still passing horses on the clubhouse turn.
"She didn't hardly slow down," Mandella said of the gallop out. "Couldn't look much better at this point. (Stevens) let her gallop out a little bit, but she took him."
Her connections have indicated a likely return to racing in late April or early May, but Mandella still hasn't said where that landing spot might be for Beholder's 6-year-old debut.
"We'll just see how it's going—see what's up," Mandella said. "We're looking pretty nice."
The third Eclipse Award winner on the track Friday morning was Hronis Racing's Stellar Wind, who galloped and is nearing her first timed workout of 2016, according to trainer John Sadler.