O'Neill pleased with Nyquist's Preakness eve jog
Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Nyquist jogged twice around the Pimlico oval Friday morning in preparation for a highly anticipated start in Saturday's Preakness (G1).
"It went really well. It was designed to be a nice easy day. He had a good gallop yesterday and jogged two miles real composed today. He looked good today," trainer Doug O'Neill said. "Everybody is smiling, happy and optimistic for tomorrow."
Nyquist will exit from the No. 3 post position, where O'Neill is hopeful that his champion can break sharply from the starting gate.
"An ideal trip would be: we break great, have the lead and go really easy around there. That would be ideal," O'Neill said. "Mario knows Nyquist so well. He has so much speed away from the gate, ideally, he gets good position wherever that is and he runs a big race."
O'Neill said he wished the Preakness Day weather would be fair and sunny, like Friday, for the fans and the event itself but isn't concerned about the prospect of a sloppy track.
"With a horse like Nyquist I'm not overly concerned about the weather," O'Neill said. "As far as rain or shine, we're not going to change anything shoeing-wise. He's going to wear the same shoes he has on, so we're not concerned about that other than we'd like to have a beautiful day."
Nyquist will have a leisurely day Saturday leading up to the race.
"He'll walk the shedrow for about 30 minutes. Then, he'll go back in his stall. We'll pull his feed tub eight hours before the race and his water bucket about six hours before the race," O'Neill said. "Once we pull his feed, he knows and the game face begins. It's really exciting to watch that unfold."
Kentucky Derby runner-up Exaggerator galloped 1 3/8 miles about 6:45 a.m. (EDT) Friday.
The son of 2007 Preakness winner Curlin finished second behind Nyquist in the Derby, rallying from far back under Kent Desormeaux.
"There's plenty of speed and we're obviously coming off the pace," trainer Keith Desormeaux said of the late-running Santa Anita Derby (G1) winner. "We're not going to change tactics that work. I'm going to pick him up here at the gap (after training), and I'm going to walk him to the barn, give him a bath and put him in the stall, and guess what? My job is over. It's in Kent's hands. He's got to judge that pace correctly."
While Exaggerator has won two major stakes and been second in three starts over a wet track, Desormeaux said, "I want to take my picture in the sun."
(Jessie Holmes/EquiSport Photos)