BALTIMORE – Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist stretched his legs during a morning gallop at Pimlico Race Course Friday morning in preparation for a start in the 141st Preakness Stakes (G1) May 21.
The undefeated 3-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 ¼-length triumph at Churchill Downs, has impressed O’Neill with his post-Derby physical condition.
“I just noticed that he hasn’t changed much. 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,” O’Neill said.
“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.”
Reddam Racing LLC’s 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 2-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,” said Michigan native O’Neill.
New Faces Collected, Stradivari, Uncle Lino Breeze for Preakness
Collected, Stradivari and Uncle Lino, a trio of new faces to the Triple Crown campaign expected to start in the Preakness, had their final serious tune-ups Friday morning.
Speedway Stable’s Collected worked seven furlongs in 1:24.80 over a track labeled as “good” at Churchill Downs. Ridden by Miguel Mena, Collected broke off at the five-eighths pole and produced fractions of 23.80 seconds, 35.80, 47.80, 1:00 and 1:12.60. The Lexington (G3) winner galloped out a mile in 1:38.60.
“I’d say we are ready. We’re good to go,” said Jim Barnes, assistant to six-time Preakness winner Bob Baffert. “Bob wanted a good seven-eighths and out-a-mile, and he did it pretty handily.”
Collected is scheduled to fly to Baltimore on Tuesday.
Todd Pletcher-trained Stradivari, who is scheduled to make his stakes debut in the Preakness, breezed five furlongs in 59.60 seconds over a fast track at Belmont Park.
“He worked very well. I’m very pleased with the way he went. He’s had three very good breezes since his allowance win and right now we’re still considering the Preakness,” Pletcher said.
The 3-year-old son of Medaglia d’Oro broke his maiden at Gulfstream Park in his second career start Dec. 5 before returning off a four-month layoff to handily vanquish first-level allowance runners by 14 ½ lengths April 17 at Keeneland.
“He’s a horse that we’ve thought a lot of for quite a while, so it was sort of in the back of our minds leading up to the allowance race that hopefully bigger things were to come,” Pletcher said. “We were expecting a good effort but that even exceeded our expectations. Once he did that and came out of it well the Preakness became a consideration.”
Uncle Lino, who set a track record at Los Alamitos while winning the 1 1/16-mile California Chrome Stakes in 1:40.82 April 30, breezed five furlongs at Santa Anita in 1:00.80 Friday morning.
Trained by Gary Sherlock, the son of Uncle Mo, who previously finished third behind Exaggerator in the Santa Anita Derby (G1), is scheduled to ship from Southern California to Pimlico Tuesday.
Recovering Romans on Hand for Cherry Wine’s Morning Exercise
With trainer Dale Romans back at his Churchill Downs barn for the first time since being involved in an automobile accident Kentucky Derby night, his Preakness hopeful Cherry Wine galloped 1 ½ miles under Faustino Aguilar Friday morning.
“This is the first day I have been able to walk,” Romans said about the accident that sent three passengers in his car to the hospital. “I feel much better. I still have sore ribs and back but I think the medication is starting to kick in.
“My newest thing is to make sure you always wear your seatbelt,” added Romans, who reported that Cherry Wine would breeze Saturday morning.
Romans won the 2011 Preakness with Shackleford, whose exercise rider was Aguilar.
Derby third-place finisher Gun Runner galloped 1 ½ miles at Churchill Downs with regular exercise rider Carlos Rosas aboard. Looking on were Chris Baker, Chief Operating Officer of Three Chimneys, and Doug Cauthen, Vice Chairman of Three Chimneys.
The Steve Asmussen-trained Gun Runner is yet to be confirmed as a definite for the Preakness.
“We still don’t know; it’s up to Steve,” Cauthen said.
Asmussen was not at Churchill Downs Friday morning.
Rosas was also the exercise rider for Curlin, who went on to win the 2007 Preakness after finishing third in the Kentucky Derby.
“Gun Runner is playful where Curlin was all business,” Rosas said. “Gun Runner has a big heart. He is playful, but you wouldn’t want to pick a fight with him.”
Kentucky Derby runner-up Exaggerator walked the shedrow at trainer Keith Desormeaux’s Churchill Downs barn Friday morning.
“Keith decided to give him an extra walk day,” said Julie Clark, assistant to Desormeaux. “He will gallop Saturday and ship Sunday. Keith is going to be at Pimlico Monday and the idea has been tossed around of a light, half-mile breeze Tuesday.”
Exaggerator has impressed Clark with his energy level.
“He has a lot of energy,” Clark said. “He is not mean; just playful, and I like that. He has limitless energy, and I am like, ‘Are you tired yet?’ ”
Clark picked up on that limitless energy the first time Exaggerator came east last summer.
“He flew to Keeneland and was vanning to Saratoga and the truck broke down and they had to wait for another van,” Clark said. “He galloped two days before the Special, which is one of my favorite races. (Jockey) Junior (Alvarado) was waiting with him, being patient and waiting for a hole and Exaggerator was like ‘I’m going through.’ The next day he was like he never ran at all.”
Pimlico Race Course