October 23, 2020

Ward enters Nyquist juvenile Breakthrough at Gulfstream Friday

Nyquist emulated Street Sense by turning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile/Kentucky Derby double (Coady Photography)

Champion Nyquist, the 2016 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner, looks to get off to a fast start as a freshman sire at Gulfstream Park on Friday. The Wesley Ward-trained Breakthrough is entered in the 2ND race, and would be aptly named if prevailing as Nyquist’s first starter.

Nyquist is entitled to be successful with his first crop. Not only was he an unbeaten champion juvenile, but so was his sire, Uncle Mo. Both clinched Eclipse Awards by taking the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), Uncle Mo in 2010 and his first-crop son Nyquist following suit in 2015. Nyquist fared better than his sire at three, turning the elusive Breeders’ Cup Juvenile/Kentucky Derby double that has been achieved only once before by champion Street Sense in the 2007 Derby.

Standing alongside Street Sense at Darley, Nyquist currently commands a fee of $40,000, stands and nurses. His progeny have been well received at public auction, making Nyquist the top first-crop sire of weanlings in 2018 and yearlings in 2019.

Breakthrough contributed to that stat by selling for $330,000 at Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July, the joint second-highest price of the sale. Consigned by Stuart Morris, agent for Highclere and Partners, the dark bay was purchased by Ben McElroy, agent for Corinthian Medical/Wilson Sisk.

Apparently Breakthrough has been a looker from the start, as evidenced by his foal photo tweeted by Darley, and he made a grand appearance in the auction ring.

Breakthrough is a half-brother to stakes winner Red Vine, who placed in five graded stakes including the Cigar Mile (G1), Pacific Classic (G1), and Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1). Their dam, the Storm Creek mare Murky Waters, is herself a half to multiple Grade 3-winning millionaire Fort Prado.

Owned by Ramon Tallaj and Constance Wickes, Breakthrough has posted six works in advance of his debut. His first recorded move was a 3-furlong spin from the gate at Gulfstream Park West in :38.40 on March 4. Presumably Breakthrough was ticketed for a Keeneland unveiling since he then shipped to Kentucky. He posted three works in the Bluegrass State, notably a half-mile bullet in :49.20 over Turfway’s Polytrack March 26 in between two moves at Keeneland. Breakthrough returned to Florida and turned in two more works at Gulfstream Park West, most recently covering a half in :48.60 on April 26.

Drawn in post 5 with Irad Ortiz, Breakthrough is in the main body of an overflow field. The 4 1/2-furlong dash has attracted a total of 12, but only eight can start. Breakthrough’s stablemate Chasing Artie, in the outside post 8 with Tyler Gaffalione, has fired back-to-back bullets at Gulfstream Park West. The Ken and Sarah Ramsey homebred has a turf/synthetic pedigree being by We Miss Artie out of a Kitten’s Joy mare descended from Canadian champion turf female Chopinina.

One interesting rival is stuck at the bottom of the also-eligible list – Restored Order, by fellow Darley freshman standout Frosted and out of a stakes-producing half-sister to Creative Cause, Destin, and Vexatious. A $420,000 OBS March purchase, the St. Elias Stable and Repole Stable runner is trained by Todd Pletcher.

Repole and Pletcher have a contender in the field proper, $175,000 OBS March recruit Prisoner, who will break from post 7 with Luis Saez. By Violence, a 20% sire with first-time starters, he is a half-brother to multiple Grade 3-placed stakes scorer Manuka Honey.

The rail-drawn Carson City Kid is a full brother to 2018 Schuylerville (G3) scorer Catherinethegreat for Gary Barber and Mark Casse. Arindel homebred Bailey and Gabriella Sunshine have likewise been training forwardly for their debuts. The two with a race under their belt already are Just Right Mike and First Navy Admiral, respectively third and fifth here April 17. Jacks or Better Farm’s homebred First Navy Admiral is a Fort Loudon half-brother to 2010 champion juvenile filly Awesome Feather.

Scheduled post time for Friday’s 2ND race is 1:35 p.m. (ET).

On Thursday, the 2ND race is the companion maiden for 2-year-old fillies. Another Ward pair is prominent in Breeze Easy’s Tharos, a $275,000 Keeneland September yearling by Kantharos, and Merriebelle Stable’s Gem Thief, an $85,000 daughter of Shanghai Bobby from the same sale. Gem Thief is listed as the 9-5 morning-line favorite with Ortiz, while Gaffalione is named on the 5-2 Tharos. Among their rivals are Awesome View, a Jacks or Better homebred from the family of Jackson Bend who was fourth on debut for Ralph Nicks, and Princess Secret by prolific win-early sire Khozan.