American Pharoah and Nyquist

I have noticed two points of similarity in the pedigrees of American Pharoah (AP) and Nyquist. Both have dosage indexes (DIs) higher than 4.00, which supposedly disqualifies them from winning the Kentucky Derby, according to dosage theory. That old canard has been discredited for many years now, but undoubtedly some people still believe it.

AP has a DI of 4.33 based on eight total points (Unbridled in the third generation and Fappiano and Exclusive Native in the fourth generation). Nyquist has a DI of 7.00 based on four total points (Mr. Prospector and Pleasant Colony, both in the fourth generation, both through his dam).

I am not trying to suggest that Nyquist therefore will follow in the path of AP to Triple Crown glory. As usual I am just poking fun at a system of “pedigree classification” based on two or three ancestors (in these two cases) in a pedigree and ignores all the others.

AP is by Pioneerof the Nile out of a mare by Yankee Gentleman, by Storm Cat. Nyquist is by Uncle Mo out of a mare by Forestry, by Storm Cat. So the two do have Storm Cat in the very same position in their pedigrees, the position I have designated as P3 in the third generation.

I am not exactly a fan of Storm Cat, particularly of his male line in the Kentucky Derby, as readers of this blog since its inception might have noticed. One could argue that Storm Cat is a lot better broodmare sire than a “sire of sires.” Now of course he has progressed to being a sire of broodmare sires and even deeper into pedigrees.

I wondered how effective Storm Cat is in that role, as a sire of broodmare sires. So I decided to find out, and in my next post I will present some statistics on Storm Cat and other prominent sires of broodmare sires.

Right now I would like discuss Nyquist more thoroughly. I liked Mohaymen all winter because he has an excellent pedigree, and as y’all know, I am a sucker for excellent pedigrees. A friend recently inquired if the Florida Derby made me a believer in Nyquist. Here is my (somewhat edited) reply.


Yes and no about Nyquist and the Florida Derby. The morning of the race I sat down and looked at his pedigree closely for the first time. As you know, the main knock against his pedigree is that he is by Uncle Mo, who does not figure to be a distance influence. The only time Uncle Mo ever tried ten furlongs was in the BC Classic, in which he finished tenth of 12 at 5-1, by far the worst race of his career. Most people reasonably expect his progeny to be about the same (severely challenged at ten furlongs).

The more I looked at his pedigree though, the more I started thinking that if any Uncle Mo could actually win a G1 at ten furlongs, Nyquist might be the one. His broodmare sire (Forestry) is pretty neutral on distance, I think. But I do like the Seeking the Gold second dam. Third and fourth dams are by Cox’s Ridge and Arts and Letters. He will get some help from his bottom side.

So I was not too surprised to see him beat Mohaymen so easily. And I have yet to hear any reports of an injury to Mohaymen or spurious excuses. As far as I know Mohaymen is still on the Derby trail.

So as matters now stand Nyquist figures to be a heavy Derby favorite and deservedly so. In that sense I am more of a believer in Nyquist now than I was before the Florida Derby. If Nyquist tries to go wire to wire in the Derby, he could be in a heap o’ trouble though. He has  a better chance of winning the race if he runs like he did in the BC Juvenile (wide and from off the pace).

I think Nyquist is probably the best horse in the Derby now, but I still have my doubts about him getting the distance. He will not relish the distance, but he might be good enough to win anyway. I would not bet on him in the Derby. He will be too short a price relative to his actual chances of winning.

One of the reasons I still have doubts about Nyquist is the time of the Florida Derby (1:49.11). That does not compare favorably to Valid winning a G3 race earlier on the card at the same distance in 1:48.42 (0.69 seconds faster). If Nyquist had run faster than Valid, I would like his chances in the Derby a lot better.

BRIS speed and class figures confirm this. Nyquist ran a 97 speed figure and a 120.1 class figure. Valid ran a 99 speed figure and a 120.5 class figure.

But the opposite occurred, which leads me to two conclusions. Nyquist is NOT a superhorse. Mohaymen is NOT a superhorse.

Before the Florida Derby it appeared that the Kentucky Derby was probably a two-horse race. Now it looks to me much more like a typical Derby (wide-open, 20-horse race). The last remaining preps should be very interesting, more so now than before the Florida Derby.

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