O’Neill ‘really happy’ with Nyquist heading into Preakness

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TwinSpires Staff

May 13th, 2016

Edited Press Release

Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Nyquist stretched his legs during a Friday morning gallop at Pimlico Race Course in preparation for the 141st running of the Preakness Stakes (G1) on May 21.

The undefeated three-year-old colt, who was ridden by exercise rider Jonny Garcia, backtracked with a pony to the top of the first turn before reversing direction and galloping approximately a mile.

“Jonny was very happy with him, which is the main thing. He was much more relaxed early on in his gallop and then finished up strong. He’s cooled out super. We’re very happy the way the morning went,” trainer Doug O’Neill said.

“Tomorrow, he’ll jog two miles. We’ll just alternate the jogging and galloping. With two weeks in between, there’s no reason to do much more.”

Nyquist, who enjoyed a smooth stalking trip while registering a 1 1/4-length triumph in the Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs, has impressed O’Neill with his post-Derby physical condition.

“I just noticed that he hasn’t changed much,” O’Neill stated. “He’s held his weight well, and I think that’s a credit to the Derby being such a trouble-free, clean trip. It enabled him not to use more energy than he needed to. I hope the trip he got helps us in the race here, for sure.

“He’s eating great. His appetite is strong; his energy is great. He’s really relaxed here. He has good energy on the track, so I’m really happy the way he’s coming into it.”

Campaigned by Reddam Racing LLC, the bay son of Uncle Mo has settled in well in Stall 24 in Barn D at Pimlico since arriving from Churchill Downs Monday.

“He’s so mature. I think we got to see that as a two-year-old. He’s been a horse that acts older than he is. To win five Grade 1s over five different tracks is pretty phenomenal,” O’Neill said.

“He’s adjusted to things here at Pimlico. He’s settled in. Our 24-hour security guards are even mentioning how he’s sleeping all night. We’re just very happy the way he’s matured.”

Team O’Neill was planning to attend the Orioles-Tigers baseball game Friday night at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

“Being from Detroit and loving Baltimore, it’s a perfect matchup,” Michigan native O’Neill added.

Nyquist photo courtesy of Maryland Jockey Club