Nyquist 'a true professional' seeking Kentucky Derby-Preakness double
Edited Preakness press release
Reddam Racing LLC’s Nyquist jogged two miles at Pimlico Race Course Monday morning, taking a break between circuits of the racetrack to school in the paddock in preparation for a highly anticipated start in Saturday’s 141st Preakness S. (G1).
The Kentucky Derby (G1) winner walked nonchalantly in the paddock under exercise rider Jonny Garcia, stopping to stand calmly in a stall during a drama-free schooling session. He subsequently schooled in the starting gate.
“He was great. He was just a true professional. He walked through the paddock and acted like he’d been there before,” trainer Doug O’Neill said.
“He went from the paddock to the gate and got to meet Bruce Wagner and his boys, Kevin (Dzbynski) and Chris (Campitelli), and they were unbelievable with him the way they acted around him and the way he acted around them. They got along great. He schooled super in there. We’re just really happy. It was a really good morning.”
Nyquist, who turned in a thoroughly professional 1 1/4-length victory in the Derby in front of nearly 170,000 people May 7, has given his trainer confidence that he has the temperament to handle the Preakness crowds and a festive atmosphere as well as he has handled his competition thus far during his undefeated career.
“He’s undefeated winning five Grade 1s on five different tracks. He’s a very special horse. He continues to show that on a daily basis,” O’Neill said.
“We’ve been blessed with a lot of good horses, but he’s by far the best horse we’ve ever had. He’s got a lot of energy and you see it in the afternoon when he competes. But he conserves his energy in the paddock and around the barn area around here. He sleeps a lot in his stall. He’s got the perfect combination for a top race horse.”
Jockey Mario Gutierrez has formed a special bond with Nyquist while being aboard the colt for all eight of his victories, managing to maintain a calm demeanor while performing at the highest level on big days.
“Mario is very calm. He has a good mind on him. He’s a good finesse rider. These two get along really fantastic,” O’Neill said.
Gutierrez, O’Neill and Reddam Racing will seek their second Preakness success Saturday, teaming with 2012 Kentucky Derby winner I’ll Have Another for a triumph in the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.
“I think the relationship all starts with Paul and Zilla Reddam of Reddam Racing. Paul is so loyal. What Paul has shown Mario and I – and all his trainers – is that he will always have your back.
“I think that’s helped Mario and I through slumps, knowing that Reddam Racing isn’t going to fire you,” O’Neill said. “It all starts with Paul the way he leads us. Mario continues to just show up in these big races. He’s incredible.”
Nyquist is scheduled to remain on his schedule of alternating jogs and gallops throughout Preakness Week. He is slated to gallop Tuesday, jog Wednesday, gallop Thursday and jog Friday to prep for his Triple Crown quest in the Preakness.
Photo and videos courtesy of Maryland Jockey Club.