Kentucky Derby Winner Nyquist Withdraws From Belmont Due To Illness

Nyquist, the horse who won the Kentucky Derby and came in third in the Preakness Stakes, has pulled out of the Belmont due to illness. Nyquist, a colt, has an elevated white blood cell count and a fever, and at this time, is unfit to travel from Baltimore to New York to get ready for the Belmont Stakes, which is the third leg of the Triple Crown.

Reddam Racing, which owns Nyquist, should be congratulated with making a decision which is in the best interest of the horse, says Forbes, which believes that Nyquist’s ownership made a quick decision today, and it was the correct one. But with Nyquist’s withdrawal, a lot more attention and stress will be on Exaggerator, who won the Preakness last weekend. Exaggerator, ridden by Kent Desormeaux, was gunning for Nyquist, and now will have to find another horse in the field to challenge.

The New York Times is reporting that though the loss of Nyquist in the field at Belmont will be felt for race fans, it is more important, at least to Nyquist’s owners and horse lovers, to find out what is going on with Nyquist’s health. On Tuesday morning, Nyquist was found to have a temperature of 101.2, which is a full degree above normal for a horse. At this time, Nyquist is being given antibiotics to reduce his fever so he can return home to California. It is not in Nyquist’s best interest to travel with a fever, as travel is stressful enough for horses.

Doug O’Neil, Nyquist’s trainer, believes it is best for Nyquist to get back home to California to relax and heal.

“We’re going to put him [Nyquist] on stronger antibiotics, get him right, get him back to California and let him relax and recover from the trip.”

Jack Sisterson, O’Neil’s assistant, who is still in Baltimore with Nyquist, says that all decisions will be made in Nyquist’s best interest. He says if all goes well for Nyquist, he will be back east this summer to race at Saratoga.

“Doug wants to do what’s best for Nyquist to get him back to 100 percent healthwise and get him back to California.”

Sadly for Exaggerator, who came in first against Nyquist at the Preakness, there will be no second chance in the Triple Crown races to best Nyquist again. In four prior races, Exaggerator finished behind Nyquist.

The Bleacher Report claims that there is disappointment in the horseracing world about the loss of Nyquist in the field for the Belmont Stakes, as the winners of the other two races always add to the interest for the third race in the Triple Crown. David Grening, of Daily Racing Form, says that the high white blood cell count is what caused Nyquist to be pulled from consideration for the Belmont Stakes.

Doug O’Neil said that they started off light with medication for Nyquist, but needed to increase the level of his treatment to see some results.

“His temp is back up a bit. It’s like 101 and change. Now we have to get stronger with the antibiotics. We always want to do right by him and the right move is to chill and not even think about a race until he is right. We had him on a real light antibiotic, and that obviously isn’t going to cut it for this bug.”

On Monday, Nyquist’s team thought the fever would break, and the horse would still run at Belmont, but since Nyquist didn’t respond as expected, Nyquist’s team has changed their minds, and pulled him from the field for the Belmont Stakes.

It is thought that O’Neil and Nyquist’s team made a difficult decision, but it is likely the decision that was in the best interest of the Kentucky Derby Winner, Nyquist.

Do you think it was the best thing for Nyquist to skip the Belmont Stakes?

[Photo by Nick Wass/AP Images]