MARIO GUTIERREZ, NYQUIST, WINNER: “He hasn’t run since November (Oct. 31) so we know he was going to be rank but I also believe in his talent. I wanted to fight with him as little as possible today, let him do his thing and you saw the results.
“I wasn’t worried about Exaggerator today. I can’t be worried about that, about other horses. I know my horse is talented enough to make it to the bigger races so if I’m worried about other horses now, this early, than that makes me sound like I don’t believe in my horse and I do.”
KENT DESORMEAUX, EXAGGERATOR, SECOND: “You’d have to break the track record to win the race, so that’s telling for both horses. They’re both very talented. I had a dream trip. The winner was too good.”
FLAVIEN PRAT, DENMAN’S CALL, THIRD: “We had a good trip, we were right behind Nyquist and Exaggerator. For a moment we were in the second spot and it was a good race.
“It wasn’t a big win but we did something good today. He’s still very green but he’s a good horse.
“I feel good about it; with these things you just get back to riding horses and gain the experience.”
DOUG O’NEILL, NYQUIST, WINNER: “Everything went great, and for the race to go the way it did, I’m pumped and so proud of the whole team. Mario (Gutierrez) was great under pressure, which is what we need right now.
“Exaggerator is a nice horse, and for him (Nyquist) to hold him off the way he did showed you how talented he is. There were some anxious moments when I saw the fractions, and you’re better off on the outside tracking than on the inside being tracked. The post (one) wasn’t an advantage at all and I think we got pushed by the bottom horse (Sheikh of Sheikhs) a little bit early. But Mario is smart. He knew what he had. I really was impressed with the gallop out. He galloped out great.”
Next race? “I haven’t talked to Paul (Reddam). The original plan was the Florida Derby (April 2) and there’s a bonus involved, of course, so we’ll huddle up and play it by ear and do whatever is in the best interest of Nyquist for sure.”
DENNIS O’NEILL, NYQUIST, WINNER: “It was scary, because I saw that horse pressing him, and 44 and change was a little spooky, and then eight and change, and you keep waiting for them to slow down off a layoff like that. To see him kick on and gallop out like that was really, really exciting. I don’t know how good this horse is now. I knew he was a good horse, but I thought today’s performance was amazing. We’re really excited moving forward. It’s a perfect prep. We have seven weeks (to the Florida Derby). We couldn’t ask for anything better.
“The gallop out was scary, because it looked like Exaggerator had him. He made him run. He kept trying to get a breather, and he couldn’t get a breather the whole way. For a horse to do it is pretty exciting.”
- PAUL REDDAM, NYQUIST, WINNER: “That was what we anticipated. We knew Exaggerator was ready, and we knew we’d probably have to go.”
(On not getting respect): “They can give him respect or not, but that’s not going to affect his performance on the racetrack. We try not to take any of that personally and if they want to say, ‘That was only seven-eighths – how’s he going to be at a mile and an eighth or a mile and a quarter?,’ We’ll let him tell us.”
(On the next race): “When we talked about it at the beginning of the year, we said we’d go to the San Vicente and the Florida Derby because we liked the timing. I think Doug will change his mind a couple times between now and then, because there’s the temptation to stay home. We love Santa Anita. But we’ll see. We just want to take it in stride. It was a good first step.
“The track was fast, and he ran like the track was fast. He’s just got that mindset that you’re not going to beat him.”
- KEITH DESORMEAUX, EXAGGERATOR, SECOND: “Goodness gracious. Anybody not a believer in Nyquist now, that was an awesome race, to set those kinds of fractions and still finish in close to track record time for a three-year-old in February. Wow! Hat’s off to Nyquist.”
NOTES: Winning owners Paul and Zillah Reddam reside in Irvine, CA.