The two biggest names at the Preakness Stakes–Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist and Preakness winner Exaggerator–both rested on Sunday but each has a markedly different plan for the week. The top news in horse racing at the moment is Nyquist’s fever which could put his participation in the Belmont Stakes in jeopardy. As for Exaggerator, he looks as good as ever and will return to training on Tuesday.
Nyquist was scheduled to ship to Belmont Park this morning but after it was discovered that he has a fever of 102 degrees the trip has been delayed as a precaution. Nyquist isn’t showing any obvious signs of illness but it’s just unwise to do anything until his connections have a better grasp on the situation Assistant trainer Dennis O’Neill–Doug’s brother–explains: “I think he has some sort of virus we need to get under control. He ate well, but his temperature was 102 so we decided not to ship. We drew some blood and will know more tomorrow.” Jack Sisterson, another of O’Neill’s assistants, said essentially the same thing: “We have taken blood work to make sure nothing is going on. That is why we delayed travel.”
Although Nyquist’s connections are anxious to avenge his first career loss against eight wins they’re not going to be stupid about it. So the plan now is to determine what course of action to take. They can’t do that until they get the results of the blood test and perhaps an evaluation by an equine veterinarian. Best case scenario–it’s no big deal. Worst case scenario–Nyquist will have to be scratched from the Belmont and likely pointed to big races later in the Summer.
Meanwhile, Preakness winner Exaggerator is enjoying some ‘downtime’ and basking in his victory. He rested all day Sunday and isn’t doing much on Monday either according to trainer Keith Desormeaux: “He didn’t do anything today but walk. We’ll probably go back to the track (Tuesday) morning.” Exaggerator will remain at Pimlico for a little longer with the plan to ship him to New York on May 29. That will give him two weeks of work at Belmont before the race.