The Nyquist-Exaggerator rival extends to trainers Doug O’Neill and Keith Desormeaux. On the morning of May 17, rain forced both trainers to hit the Pimlico Race track earlier than scheduled, with Nyquist making it out at 8:30 AM EST and Exaggerator hitting it up earlier at 7:45 AM.
A joking O’Neill remarked that he and his team “hid behind some bush and watched him [Exaggerator] from afar.”
Upon being relayed the message from a reporter, Desormeaux couldn’t help but grin.
“Doug O’Neill probably never threw a leg over a horse; he needs all the help he can get,” said Desormeaux. “I galloped for 25 years; don’t need a clock when I watch my horses gallop. I’m glad to know Doug is clocking my horse. He must be worried.”
Both Exaggerator and Nyquist galloped for 1 1/2 miles each yesterday morning.
“He looked nice and limber,” said Desormeaux. “I thought he floated over the track. It looks like he adapted to the surface real well. That’s about his normal speed, so I wouldn’t consider it aggressive. It was a typical gallop for him, but it was very nice.”
Even though Exaggerator has yet to beat Nyquist, his trainer sounds confident in his chances of finally breaking the goose egg after a short turn around following the Kentucky Derby.
“Obviously, numbers-wise, horse-for-horse wise, it’s tough to think we can beat him, right? But the strongest attribute Exaggerator has is his ability to recover,” said Desormeaux. “As you know, this Preakness is run back in two weeks. That’s not normal in this day and age to run a horse back that quickly.
“Nyquist, I think the goal was to keep him fresh by only running twice this year, but maybe that’ll backfire. Exaggerator has much more racing experience, therefore fitness, and the attribute of recovering quickly. I think I have the fitter horse, and to tell you the truth the fresher horse, going into Saturday.”