Nyquist to be saddled for Preakness inside rather than infield
Edited Preakness press release
Wednesday was jog day at Pimlico Race Course for Reddam Racing LLC’s Nyquist, who has been on a somewhat unusual training schedule of alternating days of jogging and galloping throughout the Kentucky Derby (G1) winner’s unblemished eight-race career.
“The morning went great. As planned, we jogged him two miles. I sound like a broken record – great energy, he looked great,” said trainer Doug O’Neill, whose stable star jogged two miles in the company of a pony. “We’re just looking for him to continue what he’s been doing since he’s been in Baltimore and just keep his appetite up and stay injury-free and stay loose. I’m very happy.”
Nyquist, who arrived at Pimlico two days after winning the May 7 Derby, is scheduled to face 10 rivals in Saturday’s 141st Preakness S. (G1). Keith Desormeaux-trained Exaggerator, who finished 1 1/4 lengths behind Nyquist in a second-place Derby finish under Kent Desormeaux, is slated to seek his first decision over the O’Neill trainee after falling victim to him in four meetings.
“I have great respect for both Keith and Kent Desormeaux. They’re great horsemen. Obviously, with Keith now in Southern California we’re around each other a lot. Both Desormeauxs are very competitive,” O’Neill said. “Both Nyquist and Exaggerator are top horses. We have a lot of respect for Exaggerator.”
While it’s customary for Preakness starters to be saddled on the turf course across from the grandstand, O’Neill will accept the option to saddle Nyquist in the paddock inside the grandstand building.
“We’re going to saddle inside just with the theory that we saddle the horse in the stall every day,” O’Neill said. “Sometimes saddling in the wide open, they can get looking around and not paying attention, so we’ll saddle him in the downstairs paddock area and then come out on the grass.”
Nyquist will seek to become the third West Coast-based horse in a row to win both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, following 2015 Triple Crown champion American Pharoah and California Chrome, whose 2014 Triple Crown bid fizzled with a dead-heat fourth-place finish in the Belmont Stakes (G1).
“I think it probably goes in cycles. Probably the next three or four years, it’ll be East Coast horses. Yeah, it’s been a pretty good run for West Coast horses,” said O’Neill, who speculated that the consistent weather could be a contributing factor.
Nyquist is scheduled to gallop under exercise rider Jonny Garcia at 8:30 (EDT) Thursday. O’Neill will address the media at 9:15 a.m.
Photo (from Monday) and videos courtesy of Maryland Jockey Club.