Nyquist, the presumptive favorite for the Kentucky Derby, will come muzzle to metal with the most important trophy in his namesake sport Saturday when he goes for a stroll about 6:30 a.m. on Derby Day.
The Stanley Cup will be in his barn Saturday morning amid hopes of inspiring the undefeated 3-year-old colt named for Gustav Nyquist, the talented right wing for the Detroit Red Wings.
Nyquist the horse has had a better year than Nyquist the hockey player. The Red Wings were eliminated from the NHL playoffs by Tampa Bay, 4-1, in the first round. The horse has not lost in seven lifetime starts, including an easy win over the best horse on the East Coast, Mohaymen, in the Florida Derby.
Nyquist is owned by Southern California's Paul Reddam, a rabid Red Wings fans. In fact, Reddam has a business of buying yearlings that he calls "Red Wing."
"That's as close as either Nyquist is going to get to it [the Stanley Cup] this year," Reddam sardonically told The Times.
Reddam invited Nyquist the person to the Derby but he will be in his native Sweden preparing for the world championships, which start later this week.
Bringing the Cup to Louisville is the brainchild of Steve Brener, president of the successful sports public relations firm Brener, Zwikel and Associates, which does business with both the National Hockey League and Santa Anita.
The Stanley Cup has visited Churchill Downs once before, in 2014, landing at the barn of Wicked Strong, who finished fourth to California Chrome that year.
"How cool is that?" said Doug O'Neill, Nyquist's trainer. "The human Nyquist won't get to skate around with the Cup this year, but the equine Nyquist gets two white-gloved guards bringing him the Cup to drink from. Life is good."