Nyquist showing all the right signs off quick turnaround from Kentucky Derby
Edited Preakness press release
Reddam Racing LLC’s Nyquist galloped a strong 1 1/4 miles at Pimlico Race Course Thursday morning in preparation for Saturday’s 141st Preakness S. (G1), continuing to impress trainer Doug O’Neill with the high level of energy the 3-5 morning-line favorite has demonstrated since capturing the Kentucky Derby (G1) May 7.
“We were very happy. Nyquist had great energy, looked real loose and galloped really well. We’re very, very happy the way the morning went,” O’Neill said. “Tomorrow is going to be an easy morning, so I’m feeling very optimistic about Saturday.”
O’Neill was joined by jockey Mario Gutierrez on the press box porch to watch Nyquist’s final serious tune-up for the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown with just a jogging session slated for Friday morning.
“We’re very, very optimistic. I think we’re very confident,” said Gutierrez, who guided the son of Uncle Mo to a comfortable 1 1/4-length triumph in the Derby. “Watching him gallop today, it’s hard not to be confident.”
Four years ago, Gutierrez visited Pimlico for the first time with I’ll Have Another, aboard whom he followed up a Kentucky Derby victory with a narrow victory in the Preakness for owner J. Paul Reddam and O’Neill.
“I have nothing but good memories from Baltimore and the Preakness,” said the 29-year-old jockey, who never got the chance to shoot for a Triple Crown sweep due to an injury sustained by I’ll Have Another the day before the Belmont S. (G1).
“Being able to come back with the kind of horse I’m coming back with, there’s a lot of joy. Coming here with a heavy favorite makes me very happy.”
Gutierrez has been riding in Southern California since his triumph in the 2012 Preakness, gaining experience and fine-tuning his career.
“Definitely the experience of riding four years with elite competition – Mike Smith, Gary Stevens, all the top jockeys in the country – is good experience,” the Mexico native said. “Plus I’m doing stuff that I wasn’t doing four years ago. Now, I’m seeing a sports psychologist; I go to a chiropractor twice a week; I have a specialist stretch me a couple times a week. I’m doing way different things than I was doing in 2012.”
Through good and bad times, Reddam and O’Neill stood by Gutierrez, who enjoyed his best year in 2015 aboard the winners of 104 races and $6.3 million in purses. Gutierrez has been aboard Nyquist for all eight of his races, all victories.
“I can stay here all day trying to describe the feeling when I’m on his back. It’s a good feeling. It’s like you know you have in your hands a powerful animal just waiting for you to let go and you know he’ll kick in,” Gutierrez said.
“Besides that, his attitude, I think he loves to race; he loves the competition. When someone comes close to him, he’ll push his ears back and take off. He’s pretty amazing.”
Despite having only two weeks to bounce back from his Kentucky Derby score, Nyquist is instilling confidence in O’Neill that he will be ready for the challenge Saturday.
“He was pretty good before the Derby and he’s pretty good now,” O’Neill said. “He had five weeks to prepare from the Florida Derby to the Kentucky Derby. This is a quick turnaround. He’s showing all signs that he’s as good as ever.”
Photo by Cecilia Gustavsson/Horsephotos.com