The 141st running of the Preakness will take place this Saturday at Pimlico, and rain is in the forecast.
J. Paul Reddam, the owner of Derby winner Nyquist, is unconcerned.
“It can rain all it wants, it can snow – I don’t think it’s going to bother him,” Reddam said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “He can run on anything.”
Yes, less than two weeks after outlasting Exaggerator and Gun Runner at the Derby, Nyqusit looks calm, cool and collected – not to mention refreshed – in Baltimore.
“He came out with good energy,” Reddam said. “Sometimes a race will knock a horse out for a little while because racing is a lot different than training. I find this hard to believe, but the guys are telling me he might be better now than going into the Derby. Confidence is pretty high in the barn.”
Reddam, 60, usually has a pretty good sense of how ready a horse is on race day. That said, he’s been lulled into over-confidence in the past.
“Oh, that’s happened more times than I would like to count,” he said. “We ran a horse in the Derby in 2007 and we knew the race was over in the paddock. We could see the horse sweating, boiling over, being nervous. Nyquist is just the opposite. No matter what’s going on around him, he’s been cool, calm and collected. How your horse is mentally is almost as important as how they are physically and he’s got that kind of very, very calm demeanor.”
Reddam also said that a horse’s relationship with a jockey is important.
“Horses are very sensitive to human emotions,” he said. “They can feel whether a person is nervous or scared. I think in this case, Nyquist and the jockey, Mario Gutierrez, kind of feed off each other and make each other confident. It just kind of goes back and forth between them. They have a very special relationship.”
While the Triple Crown becomes a popular topic of conversation immediately after the Derby concludes, Reddam hasn’t even thought about it. He’s taking the one-step-at-a-time approach.
“If we lose on Saturday, all that Triple Crown talk is for naught,” he said. “We’re trying to keep our feet on the ground and focus on the task in front of us.”
Nyquist’s stiffest competition this weekend will likely be Exaggerator once again, though things could get increasingly more difficult as new horses enter the Preakness and Belmont. Some horse-racing aficionados feel that cheapens the races – if you run a horse in one of the Triple Crown races, they say, you should run the horse in all of them – but Reddam disagrees.
“That is complete nonsense,” he said. “Look, if you’re going to win the Triple Crown, you got to beat fresh horses, tired horses, new horses, what-have-you. You’re supposed to be the champion. I have no quibble with anyone waiting in the wings in the Belmont to try to knock us off if we get that far.”