DEL MAR, Calif. (AP) Nyquist capped a memorable coast-to-coast day for trainer Doug O'Neill, who is heading into next year with some promising 2-year-olds in his barn.
Not long after long-shot Ralis won the Grade 1 Hopeful at Saratoga on Monday, Nyquist earned a 3 3/4-length victory in the $300,000 Del Mar Futurity, a race won last year by American Pharoah, who went on to become racing's first Triple Crown champion in 37 years.
''It's been crazy, but everything has worked out perfectly,'' said O'Neill, who trains both horses for owner Paul Reddam.
Ridden by Mario Gutierrez, Nyquist ran seven furlongs in 1:23.28 and paid $3, $2.20 and $2.10 as the 1-2 favorite. It was Gutierrez's third winner on the card.
''I thought we had the perfect trip and Mario did a great job,'' O'Neill said. ''This is a super horse and, like any great athlete, it's a matter of staying healthy and if he stays that way he'll do some big things.''
In upstate New York, Ralis won the Hopeful by 5 3/4 lengths.
''After the Hopeful I was more excited than anything,'' Reddam said. ''I got nervous before the Futurity because as the odds-on favorite, you usually lose.''
Not this time.
In the Futurity, Nyquist took a short lead between horses on the final turn, inched away in the upper stretch and accelerated clear of the field under Gutierrez's whip.
''I used him early and then I didn't have to use him at all,'' Gutierrez said. ''He just coasted home. He's a nice colt, really nice.''
With Nyquist and Ralis in his stable, Reddam can't help but think ahead to next year's Kentucky Derby.
''It's in the back of your mind,'' he said, ''but it's a long time from now and a lot of things can happen.''
Swipe returned $4.40 and $2.60 while losing to Nyquist for the second straight time. Blameitonthelaw was another 4 1/2 lengths back in third and paid $2.40 to show in front of 10,446 on closing day of Del Mar's summer meet.
''The winner was just too good,'' said Kent Desormeaux, who was aboard Swipe.
Archaeo, also trained by O'Neill, finished last in the six-horse field.
Reddam earned his 13th victory at the meet to finish atop the owners' standings.
''Extremely lucky,'' he said.
Nyquist improved to 3-0 in his brief career. Last month, he won the Best Pal Stakes by 5 1/4 lengths at Del Mar. He is a son of Uncle Mo, who went undefeated as a 2-year-old, including a win in the 2010 Breeders' Cup Juvenile. A year later, Uncle Mo was the early Kentucky Derby favorite, but was scratched the day before the race with a gastrointestinal infection. A rare liver disease later ended his career.
The victory, worth $180,000, increased Nyquist's career earnings to $333,600. He was purchased for $400,000 at a sale in March.
O'Neill, Gutierrez and Reddam were the team behind I'll Have Another, who won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness three years ago. That colt's Triple Crown bid ended when he was retired the day before the Belmont with an injury.
''Can I compare him to I'll Have Another?'' Gutierrez said of Nyquist. ''No, not really. Different horses. Remember, I rode `Another' as a 3-year-old. This one is only a 2-year-old.''
Earlier, trainer Bob Baffert scratched his pair of Futurity entries, Nightly News and Mt Veeder, and put them on a van with the rest of his horses bound for Santa Anita. He has won the Futurity a record 12 times, including with American Pharoah.
O'Neill completed the day with a third victory at Del Mar, when Jakaby Jade won the $100,000 Del Mar Juvenile Fillies Turf by 1 1/2 lengths. Flavien Prat guided him to the upset in the one-mile turf race.
Big Macher overcame a stumble at the start to win the $102,250 Pirate's Bounty Stakes by 4 3/4 lengths.
Ridden by Rafael Bejarano, Big Macher ran six furlongs in 1:09.18 and paid $4.20, $3.80 and $2.60 as the even-money favorite.
Cherubim returned $5.20 and $3.80, while Athens was another three-quarters of a length back in third and paid $5 to show.