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Nyquist handlers not worried about Preakness weather

Horse named for Red Wings forward is race favorite

by Pat Pickens @Pat_Pickens / Staff Writer

Detroit Red Wings forward Gustav Nyquist is accustomed to moving swiftly on frozen water. The world my see how his horse counterpart does on a watery racetrack.

The latest forecast for the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore on Saturday is a 90-percent chance of rain, with 10-15 mph winds. But the team behind Nyquist the horse remains confident despite the fact he never has competed on a sloppy track in eight career races, all victories.

"I don't think that will bother him," jockey Mario Gutierrez said in a video posted to Maryland Racing's YouTube page Thursday. "I think with his character he can deal with a lot of things. I think mud is one of them too."

Nyquist, named after the Red Wings forward, is the morning-line betting favorite at 3/5 odds to win the Preakness, the second leg of the Triple Crown. He'll start from post position No. 3. Nyquist won the Kentucky Derby on May 7, holding off second-place Exaggerator by 1 1/4 lengths.

Doug O'Neill, Nyquist's trainer, said he believes the two-week break between Kentucky Derby and Preakness will be more of an issue than the weather.

"It's a quick turnaround," O'Neill said. "But he's showing all signs that he's as good as ever."

O'Neill said the horse that most concerns him is Exaggerator. Exaggerator will run from the fifth post position and has the second-best odds at 3/1. He has been in the field in four of Nyquist's wins and has finished second twice.

"Exaggerator, he scares us," O'Neill said. "Because he's got that sneaky style where if the pace got real heavy or you had to make an earlier move than you wanted to, Exaggerator is the kind of horse that's just laying back and just surge right at the right times. So we really respect him a lot."

O'Neill and Gutierrez continue to laud Nyquist's demeanor and are confident heading into the race.

"We're very, very optimistic," Gutierrez said. "We're very confident. I [saw] him gallop today and it's hard not to get confidence. So we're pretty confident going into the race."

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