The Preakness Stakes draw, as you can see from the video above, was a pretty incredible time. I love post position No. 3 for Nyquist, and I can’t wait to see how he fares on Saturday.
Once the draw was over, I headed to Mt. Washington Tavern, where ABR was hosting a Preakness party with Sagamore Farm. It was an amazing time, with fans and racing pros mingling over cocktails.
Mt. Washington Tavern is a very cool venue, especially if you’re a racing fan: they have some incredible Thoroughbred memorabilia around the bar and restaurant, including a set of 1973 Triple Crown hero Secretariat’s silks.
There was a raffle at the party that included everything from a Christine A. Moore hat to original art and signed American Pharoah paraphernalia to benefit the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance.
The raffle winners (I, sadly, was not among them) were thrilled with their loot – this woman took home a poster signed by every jockey from last year’s Preakness!
I was thrilled, however, to be presented with a print by artist Stephen Bardsley of a portrait of Nyquist he drew from one of my photos. I can’t wait to hang it up in my apartment!
The next morning, I headed to Pimlico bright and early to watch some of the Preakness contenders train. The first one I saw was Laoban, a longshot who’s a simply massive horse.
Cherry Wine is a new challenger for Nyquist, and I love the way he looked this morning. He didn’t have enough points to make the starting gate for the Kentucky Derby, and he intrigues me for Saturday.
Next, I saw Collected, who’s trained by Triple Crown-winning conditioner Bob Baffert. While I don’t expect him to win the Preakness, I think he has a shot at rounding out the trifecta.
But the star of the Thursday morning show was definitely Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist. When Nyquist emerged from the barn, at least a hundred photographers and media members were there to greet him.
Nyquist was completely unfazed by the hubbub, however; he just marched professionally toward the racetrack to train, accompanied by his faithful pony horse Satire.
He did mug for the cameras a bit though – I love this shot of him sticking his tongue out mid-stride on his way to the track!
Once on the oval, though, Nyquist was all business. When he spotted Collected in front of him, Nyquist geared up and passed his Preakness challenger on the turn heading into the homestretch.
While he looked very strong in his gallop, Nyquist was completely focused and under control as his rider Jonny Garcia guided him around Pimlico Race Course.
Nyquist’s ears were up throughout his gallop, the sign of an alert and happy horse. He seems to very much like Pimlico, a good sign for Saturday’s Preakness Stakes.
After his gallop, Nyquist was once again calm and relaxed as he reunited with Satire and headed back to the barn, his signature Red Wings-hued shadow roll bright against his nose.
Then, it was bath time. Nyquist relaxed under the ministrations of his groom Elias Anaya as he was cleaned up after his morning exercise.
There was a huge crowd present to watch Nyquist unwind after work; along with media members, fans on barn tours were treated to the sight of the Kentucky Derby winner as he posed for photos.
After training hours were over, it was time to head to the Alibi Breakfast, a Preakness Stakes tradition. Horses’ owners and trainers mingle with fans and talk horse racing.
The Woodlawn Vase, the Preakness Stakes trophy worth an estimated $4 million, presided over the morning. It’s an absolutely amazing piece of art, and it was a privilege to see it up close.
Plates bearing the names and silks of each of the Preakness Stakes hopefuls adorned the table around the Woodlawn Vase. I had to get a photo with Nyquist’s avatar with the trophy!
There was also delicious food to be had: while the traditional Alibi Breakfast staple of chicken and waffles was absent this year, attendees were treated to an omelet station, a lovely treat after a morning of chasing horses!
Fans crowded Pimlico’s dining room to catch sight of horse racing luminaries and indulge in a decadent breakfast that included samples of the Preakness’s signature cocktail, the Black-Eyed Susan.
One of the most recognizable faces in the crowd was Justin Zayat, the racing manager for his family’s Zayat Stables, which owns last year’s Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.
Trainer Dale Romans talked about his Preakness Stakes contender Cherry Wine, acknowledging that he has a big task ahead of him on Saturday but remaining confident in his horse’s capabilities.
Nyquist’s trainer Doug O’Neill expressed his gratitude to be back in the Preakness spotlight after winning in 2012 with I’ll Have Another. He seems so excited for Saturday, as am I! There’s so much to look forward to, and I can’t wait to share it all.