Sunday, April 22, 2018
Sports

Nyquist gets visit from Stanley Cup

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Nothing like the Stanley Cup showing up on the backstretch at Churchill Downs the morning of the Kentucky Derby.

That's what happened early Saturday, when NHL officials brought the championship trophy to the barn of Nyquist.

The horse is named for Detroit Red Wings forward Gustav Nyquist, a player Nyquist owner J. Paul Reddam admires but has not met. Reddam, who grew up in Windsor, Ontario, is a Red Wings fan.

Nyquist trainer Doug O'Neill stood by his horse, and they posed with the Stanley Cup. At one point, Nyquist stuck his nose into the cup.

Reddam also has named horses after other Red Wings players, including Pavel Datsyuk, Niklas Kronwall, Petr Mrazek and Henrik Zetterberg.

Nyquist is having a better year than the Red Wings. The prerace favorite won the Derby to stay unbeaten at 8-0. The Red Wings were eliminated by the Lightning in the first round of the playoffs.

MOVING ON: The American Pharoah hangover is over for Bob Baffert, Victor Espinoza and Ahmed Zayat.

With Nyquist winning the Derby and heading to the Preakness in two weeks, Triple Crown chatter now turns to racing's newest star.

Baffert's Derby hopes rested with Mor Spirit. But the Santa Anita Derby runnerup finished 10th under jockey Gary Stevens.

Espinoza was bidding to become the first rider to win three consecutive Derbys. He was a late replacement aboard Whitmore, who finished 19th in the 20-horse field.

Zayat, the owner of American Pharoah, did not have a horse in the Derby and was home in New Jersey.

TEMPER, TEMPER: Preparing Lani for the Derby was the easy part. Getting him to follow directions on race day was a much tougher test for his handlers.

Known for digging in his hooves — and kicking — when he doesn't want to do something, the Japan-based gray colt frequently showed his mule side while being led from his barn to the paddock and starting gate. Lani stubbornly fought his handlers and kicked the paddock stall and for a minute seemed headed toward being scratched.

Given special permission to stand apart from his counterparts as they paraded through the paddock, jockey Yutaka Take was soon in the saddle and on the track.

But concerns that Lani would disrupt the race didn't materialize. The 30-1 long shot finished ninth of 20 horses from the No. 8 post position, better than most had predicted.

"It was a very tough race," Take said. "He needed more speed."

DOWNS ROUNDUP: Tampa Bay Derby and Sam F. Davis winner Destin finished sixth, the best finish among three Tampa Bay Downs graduates. Destin lost by 63/4 lengths. Brody's Cause (91/4 lengths) was seventh, and Outwork (181/4) was 14th. The Downs said it had a season-high crowd of 10,443, and Derby Lane reported a season-high attendance of 5,686.

Times correspondent Don Jensen contributed to this report.

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