Doug O’Neill, trainer of Kentucky Derby champion Nyquist, has learned one important thing during his career–there’s not one ‘right’ way to prepare a great horse for a big race. Different horses respond to different regimens which is why Nyquist is being prepared for the Preakness Stakes in a completely different manner than some of the other great horses that O’Neill has trained.
Prior to Nyquist’s shipping up to Baltimore’s Pimlico Race on Monday, O’Neill elaborated on this point: “Great horses you can train 100 different ways, and they win despite you. I’ll Have Another we’d do open gallops on a daily basis. This guy has a good open gallop maybe once a week. Less maintenance. We give him time to recover from stamina-type works.” O’Neill the comparison of how he trained Nyquist and I’ll Have Another in 2012: “In 2012, he galloped like a train every day. I thought that was the way to win classic races, that’s what you had to do. It did work for him. But his career was short. And whether or not it had anything to do with it, I don’t know. But we are doing things differently with Nyquist. And it seems like things are staying colder and tighter longer.”
After arriving in Baltimore, Nyquist was taken to his stable to relax and get used to his new surroundings. There are already ten horses declared for the Preakness which has a field limit of 14. In addition to Nyquist there is the Kentucky Derby runner up Exaggerator, Derby ‘also eligibles’ Cherry Wine and Laoban, along with Awesome Speed, Collected, Fellowship, Stradivari, and Uncle Lino. Another horse is a possibility as well–Dazzling Gem trained by Brad Cox. According to Cox he’ll run in either the Preakness or the Sir Barton on the undercard depending on “who shows up for the Preakness.” Three other Kentucky Derby runners are ‘undecided’–third place finisher Gun Runner, fifth place finisher Suddenbreakingnews and ninth place finisher Lani.
Nyquist will pretty much just rest and relax until the Preakness. He’ll have occasional gallops but according to O’Neill’s assistant Leandro Mora there’s no need to do more: “He just needs light training. He’s way fit. I don’t think we need to push it too much. He gallops with a lot of energy.” O’Neill chimed in: “And then we give him one day of jog and time to recover.”