05/16/2016 12:56PM

Preakness: Nyquist could have eight new opponents

Barbara D. Livingston
Nyquist schools in the paddock at Pimlico on Monday. He later went to the starting gate.

BALTIMORE – Nyquist, the Kentucky Derby winner, spent Monday morning at Pimlico getting acquainted with the paddock and the starting gate. His trainer, Doug O’Neill, past performances in hand, will spend the next few days getting acquainted with the new competition that awaits Nyquist in Saturday’s $1.5 million Preakness Stakes.

When the undefeated Nyquist seeks the second jewel of Thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown in the 141st Preakness, he is expected to face as many as eight horses who did not participate in the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago. As of Monday, only two horses from the Derby – runner-up Exaggerator and ninth-place finisher Lani – were confirmed to run back. Gun Runner, third in the Derby, has not been ruled out from participating.

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The newcomers include stakes winners Collected and Uncle Lino – who both, like Nyquist, began their careers in Southern California – as well as Abiding Star, Awesome Speed, Cherry Wine, Fellowship, Laoban, and Stradivari. It is the Todd Pletcher-trained Stradivari, a 14 1/2-length winner in allowance company at Keeneland, that has piqued O’Neill’s interest.

“He’s obviously very scary with those connections and the way he won at Keeneland last time,” O’Neill said Monday at Pimlico. “He strikes a lot of fear in you. I think the biggest thing is we’re not focused on who we’re running against. As long as Nyquist continues to do well, we feel very optimistic he’s going to run a big race after winning that Derby. He’s settled in here, looks great, good energy, total pro.”

Nyquist showed his professionalism again Monday when he schooled in both the paddock and the starting gate on a fall-like morning in Baltimore. O’Neill had originally planned to school Nyquist on Wednesday, but with rain in the forecast both Tuesday and Wednesday, O’Neill opted to do it Monday.

In order to accommodate O’Neill, starter Bruce Wagner and two members of his crew came in on what is typically a day off for the gate crew. Traffic delayed Wagner’s arrival, so O’Neill took the time to also send Nyquist to the paddock.

Nyquist jogged once around the Pimlico oval to the paddock and stood in an inside saddling stall perfectly still. He then jogged again over to the starting gate – located on the backside – and he went in twice, playing around a little the second time.

Wagner said he appreciated that O’Neill wanted to school Nyquist in the gate. He noted that in past years, some trainers have given him difficulty about doing so.

O’Neill elected to school both Nyquist and his Black-Eyed Susan contender, Land Over Sea, “out of respect for the gate crew.”

“Just so they get to see him,” O’Neill said. “I think both Nyquist and Land Over Sea are relatively good gate horses, but out of respect for them, it’s a big day, they got a full field. It’d be nice for them to at least know their personality a little bit.”

O’Neill was extremely pleased with how well Nyquist handled both the gate and the paddock.

“Now we just need the first turn to go well,” he said.

O’Neill said he believes the Preakness will be run differently from the Derby, where Nyquist was basically second throughout, stalking Danzing Candy.

Horses like Collected, the Lexington Stakes winner; Uncle Lino, the California Chrome Stakes winner; Stradivari; and Abiding Star all like to be forwardly placed.

“I definitely see the race unfolding different than Kentucky,” O’Neill said. “But I’m optimistic we’ll have the same results.”

Kentucky Derby runner-up Exaggerator arrived at Pimlico on Sunday following a 10-hour van ride from Churchill Downs. He walked the barn Monday morning and schooled in the paddock.

Though a perfect gentleman in the paddock, Exaggerator did get a bit antsy on the walk to and from the barn.

“He’s a little bit of a handful going over and coming home,” said Julie Clark, assistant to trainer Keith Desormeaux.

Clark said Exaggerator would school another time or two this week.

Entries will be taken Wednesday morning, and the post-position draw will be held ontrack at 5 p.m. Eastern.

In other Preakness developments:

◗ Gun Runner, the Derby third-place finisher, worked a half-mile in 51.40 seconds Monday at Churchill Downs. His connections said they would wait until as late as Wednesday morning before deciding whether to run.

“Gun Runner was traveling good going into the Derby, and he’s traveling good coming out of the Derby,” trainer Steve Asmussen said by phone from Churchill Downs. “Working back nine days after a race is pretty typical of us. I need to speak to the owners and decide what we are going to do long term and in the immediate future.”

Creator, 13th in the Derby, also worked a half-mile in 51.60 seconds on Monday but has not been mentioned as a Preakness candidate.

◗ Fellowship, third in the Florida Derby and fourth in the Pat Day Mile, was due to arrive at Pimlico early Tuesday morning on a van carrying about a dozen other Mark Casse-trained runners.

◗ Uncle Lino, Collected, and Laoban were scheduled to arrive at Pimlico on Tuesday on the first of two flights bringing horses to Baltimore. Cherry Wine and Gun Runner – should he run – would be on Wednesday flights.

Horses based on the East Coast, including Stradivari, Lani (based at Belmont Park ), and Awesome Speed (Colts Neck training center in New Jersey), were scheduled to van to Pimlico on Thursday. Horses must be on the grounds by noon Thursday.

◗ Dazzling Gem, fourth in the Arkansas Derby, will run in Saturday’s $100,000 Sir Barton Stakes and not the Preakness, trainer Brad Cox confirmed Monday.

“We just feel that a mile and a sixteenth in that company suits him better than a mile and three-sixteenths facing horses like Nyquist and Exaggerator,” Cox said.

– additional reportingby Jay Privman

Potential Preakness Starters
Horse Trainer Jockey Last Race, Finish
Abiding Star Ned Allard J.D. Acosta Parx Derby, 1st
Awesome Speed Alan Goldberg Jevian Toledo Federico Tesio, 1st
Cherry Wine Dale Romans Corey Lanerie Blue Grass, 3rd
Collected Bob Baffert Javier Castellano Lexington, 1st
Exaggerator Keith Desormeaux Kent Desormeaux Ky. Derby, 2nd
Fellowship Mark Casse Jose Lezcano Pat Day Mile, 4th
Gun Runner Steve Asmussen Florent Geroux Ky. Derby, 3rd
Lani Mikio Matsunaga Yutaka Take Ky. Derby, 9th
Laoban Eric Guillot Ricardo Santana, Jr. Blue Grass, 4th
Nyquist Doug O'Neill Mario Gutierrez Ky. Derby, 1st
Stradivari Todd Pletcher John Velazquez Kee. alw., 1st
Uncle Lino Gary Sherlock Fernando Perez Ca. Chrome, 1st


Pat Lyons More than 1 year ago
Remember #myFans #prediction #tripleCrownWinner this year or next made it #lastYear ... Bold BOLD prediction #patsRightDontFightIt #worldFamousPatLyons style baby #hatersGonnaHate i understand #ichiiKawawa baby 
Joel Firsching More than 1 year ago
If nyquist wins...that will be the 4th just off the pace california based horse to win the last 5 derby and preaknesses.  Have another, chrome, paroah
Kyri Freeman More than 1 year ago
It's kind of a footnote in the article, but I'm glad to see Creator is back working after the mosh pit experience his Derby turned out to be.
kevin More than 1 year ago
Charles Sanford More than 1 year ago
Gentlemen: This is the out come of the Preakness....Superiority 1st ......Inferiority 2nd......and the rest of the field will come in Inferior ....
Eli Dawkins More than 1 year ago
guys are you actually come paring animal kingdom to nyquist shame lets make this easy there is a super star a very good horse and a bunch of rabbits good luck in the Preakness
littlelouis99 More than 1 year ago
hmmm , okay Nyquist doubters , he will win the Preakness under a hand ride, by 3 lengths, I haven't seen a horse run this easy in my life, away from the gate in KD when Danzig Candy was going past him heading to the first turn he grabbed the bit and Mario had to take a strong hold. Then down the lane Mario never had to uncock his whip, a few little snaps , and easy run to the wire, no such thing as a bad bunch when we're talking horses that make it to KD. They all earned it, what we're seeing is a GREAT horse that is being superbly handled,trained,scheduled by Team O'neill. I say triple crown two years in a row. Go Nyquist !!!
Pat Lyons More than 1 year ago
#ICalledItFirst last year after my #americanPharoah prediction in writing... they (owners) decided to retire him as a 3yr old 
... bad move sport needs a hero to parade him and show his superiority as a 4yr old woulda invigorated the sport bettr... afta 37yrs terrible  ... now we're seein my prediction come to #Fruition  .... I couldn't find you on Facebook for some reason find me if you want pat lyons  poker #TeamNyquist baby #freeMoney 
Richard Kennedy More than 1 year ago
Don't count out Dale Roman's CHERRY WINE.  5 years ago, Roman's SHACKLEFORD, best ANIMAL KINGDOM in the Preakness. Way back in the 2000 Preakness, RED BULLET upset KD winner FUSAICHI PEGASUS. 
This year, I like STRADIVARI, to upset NYQUIST.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Of all the new shooters Cherry Wine is the most logical to watch from the stand point of form holding.  He missed making the Derby by a nostril!  With that said, I don't like his chances.
Bruce Heringa More than 1 year ago
As good as Nyquist was in the Derby, I'm suprised how few people admit that Exaggerator would have caught him if they went another half furlong.  If the pace sets up right, Exaggerator will beat him in the Preakness or Belmont.
Chuck Seddio More than 1 year ago
not so much another 1/16th of a mile but i believe after the rain storm prior to the race before,the track surface was more glib and favorable to speed,those fractions were very fast and gun runner and nyquist who were close were able to stay on, i dont buy the 103 beyer since no dirt race except the derby was calculated  from the rain so what il am trying to say is a agree with you and exaggerator will finally beat nyquist in the preakness,just too bad we wont get more than 3/1. and seriously how can the public forget doug o neil and his drug infractions and how ill have another had 24/7 scrutiny on him at belmont and mysteriously was scratched before the belmont. oneil and many others are a stain on our sport. and up to this point i have not read anywhere in the drf about oneils past going into the triple crown quest. im really not rooting for this horse since he is not as good as the two prior 3 yr old crops, right now he is just the best of the worst group of 3's in a long time
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think this is the worst crop since 2009.  Nyquist and Exaggerator are decent horses, but the rest...well, time will tell.
littlelouis99 More than 1 year ago
Chuck , sour grapes eh , Nyquist by 3 easy lengths then on to Belmont. No such thing as a bad bunch when it comes to Triple Crown
Chuck Seddio More than 1 year ago
no sour grapes,nyquist was the best of a really bad group, true i am biased against oneill and believe he, like dutrow and the other cheaters before him do not deserve a shot at the sports most precious quest. but all things being equal on a legit fast track whether it is at pimlico or belmont, nyquist will never duplicate  or come close to his posted 103 beyer in the derby. that is not a legit #
littlelouis99 More than 1 year ago
they coulda gone around another lap, Nyquist still hasn't been tested, easy exacto one way if Exaggerator came out of KD okay, Nyquist sure did ,
RaceTote More than 1 year ago
We have yet to witness an all out extra effort by the champion Nyquist. The problem with that animal is his perfection. He does everything right. He makes winning look easy
littlelouis99 More than 1 year ago
agree 120 % , not many can see how easy he runs