BALTIMORE (AP) — When it comes to selecting a stall for his Kentucky Derby winner at Pimlico Race Course, trainer Doug O’Neill doesn’t care much for tradition.
He’d rather go with his own tested method for success.
Unbeaten Nyquist arrived at Pimlico on Monday and was eased into Stall 24 of the Stakes Barn with six other horses trained by O’Neill.
The Kentucky Derby winner is usually kept in highly regarded Stall 40 of the Preakness Barn, home of several Triple Crown champions, including Secretariat and Seattle Slew.
O’Neill spurned Stall 40 in 2012 with Derby winner I’ll Have Another, choosing instead to keep the horse in the Stakes Barn.
I’ll Have Another won the Preakness, and Nyquist’s handlers can only hope this horse does likewise.
“It really keeps the horses happy. It worked with I’ll Have Another and we’re going to do the same thing with Nyquist,” assistant trainer Jack Sisterson said.
Nyquist improved to 8-0 after winning by 1¼ lengths at Churchill Downs. He will seek to make in nine a row in the 1 3/16-mile Preakness on May 21.
Nyquist was transported by plane from Kentucky on Monday afternoon. He covered the final leg of the trip with a police escort from Baltimore-Washington International Airport before being led to the barn shortly after 6:30 p.m.
It isn’t often that the Derby winner arrives so soon in Baltimore, but that’s what O’Neill and owner J. Paul Reddam did four years ago and the strategy proved sound.
“We can do anything with Nyquist,” Sisterson said. “It worked with I’ll Have Another. So we kept kind of the same routine and got him over here early. He gets acclimated and he gets to turn over the stuff he’ll run on.”
The plan is to go easy on the horse this week.
“He’ll walk the next couple days and then we’ll get him back to the track jogging,” Sisterson said. “Then he’ll do like we’ve done his whole career. He jogs one day and then gallops the next.
“We won’t change anything. Again, the beauty with Nyquist mentally is that whatever we put in front of him, he handles it. His whole career, we’ve kept him on the same training routine, and we’re not going to change it now.”
Sisterson will oversee the care and training of Nyquist until O’Neill arrives on Thursday.