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Nothing Went Nyquist’s Way At The Preakness

Nothing Went Nyquist’s Way At The Preakness

26.05.2016, by Jim
Nothing Went Nyquist’s Way At The Preakness&h=223&w=348&zc=1

Nyquist won’t run in the Belmont Stakes as he recovers from a high white blood cell that is likely indicative of an infection of some sort. He finished third at the Preakness but considering everything that was working against him–and in favor of race winner Exaggerator–that’s an impressive showing.

–HE WAS LIKELY SICK: Nyquist spiked a fever of 102 degrees on the Sunday after the race. He eventually tested positive for a high white blood cell count and is being treated for a possible infection. Although there were no apparent signs of illness on Preakness day his subsequent illness suggests that Nyquist might not have been 100% for the race. It was a wise decision by Nyquist’s connections to have him skip the Belmont and take a little time off to get back to full health.

–THE OFF TRACK: Exaggerator ran a great race but in all honesty it pretty much fell in his lap due to the weather. He showed in his win at the Santa Anita Derby that he’s a monster on a muddy track. He also doesn’t mind the rain and slop–many horses do. In particular, many horses hate running in rain and hate even more getting mud kicked up in their face by the ones in front of them. That didn’t bother Exaggerator as he made his move to the front. What’s impressive about Exaggerator is that he’s pretty good on a ‘fast’ or ‘good’ track.

He’s now raced four times on ‘off tracks’ and all in big races. He’s 3-1-0 with Beyer Speed Figures of 101, 103, 92, 86 in the Preakness, Santa Anita Derby and Delta Jackpot. His only loss came in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland in Autumn 2015 when he lost by a length to Brody’s Cause. Nyquist was effective on the ‘off’ track but Exaggerator was dominating.

–THE BRUTAL EARLY PACE: Doug O’Neill is a classy guy and we’ll never know if he really *did* tell jockey Mario Gutierrez to go to the front and put the accelerator to the floor. With many trainers quick to throw their jockey under the bus for a poor trip O’Neill deserves a ton of credit for his post race comments: “I just really wanted to see a good, clean trip and trouble free. I think Mario did a wonderful job with that. He didn’t bring it today and more than anything Exaggerator just ran a monstrous race. We thought we had the best horse and wanted to ride him like the best horse and not try to get too cute and get perfect positioning. Him going fast early was really my idea, thinking ‘he’s the best horse, take it to them.’”

And take it to him he did–at least for awhile. He ran with Uncle Lino turning in the fastest first quarter mile in Preakness history (22.38). Kent Desormeaux aboard Exaggerator was likely licking his chops as he saw his primary competition trying to outrun the field. He also had the right tactical approach for the track sounding a little like NASCAR driver David Pearson’s strategy at Darlington: “I had a dream trip today. I was on the fence and they all stayed wide. These turns, you want to paint the fence.”

Exaggerator will now be a huge favorite at the Belmont Stakes. Should he win, he’ll have been victorious in three of his last four races including the Belmont, Santa Anita Derby and Preakness. Not too shabby.

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