The Outside Rail

As the Maryland Jockey Club's Dave Joseph put it, "Lots of good writing today, right? You've got the mist and all that."

Right. Mist. Atmosphere. And one pretty cool horse.

Undefeated Preakness favorite Nyquist galloped at Pimlico Friday morning for a crowd of dozens (two, tops) in the gauzy mist, drippy drizzle and all the other stuff racing writers are supposed to wax poetically about. It wasn't difficult to imagine, Red Smith, Joe Palmer, Dale Austin and the other guys standing on the apron at Pimlico Friday morning. They would have played poker last night, had a few blams somewhere. They would not be on Twitter, would not have talked about the drone camera buzzing over the track and would have definitely worn fedoras and overcoats and appear in black-and-white photos.

And they'd have come up with some copy for the morning editions.

Owned by Reddam Racing, Nyquist looks fine. Great, really. He's quiet, calm, nothing out of place. Wearing four white polo bandages, his usual red shadow roll, ring bit and tongue tie, he and exercise rider Jonny Garcia walked to the track alongside assistant trainer Jack Sisterson aboard Satire the lead pony. They backed up the wrong way at a jog. Then Nyquist galloped a lap, met Satire again and they walked back to the barn. Easy. The Pimlico stable area was quiet, with no traffic or anything much to worry about really.

Afterward, Nyquist had an abbreviated bath - legs and tail mostly - while checking out a television camera and a few iPhones while wearing his green personalized Sentient Jets cooler from the Breeders' Cup. The morning's public part ended with some coldwater bandages and a few laps of the shedrow.

Trainer Doug O'Neill said Pimlico felt like a "training center," though he knows things will get busier the closer to next Saturday's Preakness. His horse is doing well.

"Jonny was very happy with him which is the main thing," said O'Neill, who won the 2012 Kentucky Derby and Preakness with I'll Have Another. "He was much more relaxed early on in his gallop and he finished up strong and is cooling out super so I'm very happy with the way the morning went."

And the mist was great.

Sticking with an every-other-day jog/gallop routine, Nyquist will jog 2 miles Saturday, gallop Sunday and so on. To those who don't know, and you're out there, a jog is a trot - done right-handed, or the opposite direction, at the racetrack. A gallop is a gallop.

And mist doesn't matter.

The training schedule won't add much in terms of fitness, it doesn't need to, but it will keep Nyquist happy, energized, interested, light on his feet

"With two weeks in between there's no reason to do much more," said O'Neill. "We'll do it with some and started doing it with him as a 2-year-old, he was just running so consistently and as a baby they're growing and I never like to gallop them real strong every day. He continued to succeed and we just continued it even into his 3-year-old season. He's happy, he's healthy, and running well so why change?

"It gives him a chance to recover from the day before's gallop. He seems like a happy horse."

As he did with I'll Have Another, O'Neill got to Pimlico early and hopes it makes a difference to his horse.

"It makes me breathe easier knowing that he settled in and I don't have to worry about any shipping stuff," the trainer said. "Any time you ship anywhere things can happen. With the other guys (arriving later) as long as they have a smooth trip here it shouldn't be an advantage really."

Though Nyquist has the mist to himself. For now.




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