BALTIMORE – Let it rain again on the Preakness. Team Nyquist doesn't seem concerned.
A driving rainstorm didn't faze American Pharoah as he splashed his way to victory in the second leg of the Triple Crown last year, and it sure appears like Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist will have to do the same thing in a bid to set up another Triple try in the Belmont Stakes.
The National Weather Service forecast Friday night called for a 100 percent chance of rain beginning early Saturday in the Baltimore area and continuing throughout the day, with as much as one inch possible in some areas. Temperatures are expected to be in the mid- to upper 50s with wind gusts up to 20 mph. Post time for the Preakness at is 6:45 p.m.
"With a horse like Nyquist, I'm not overly concerned about the weather," trainer Doug O'Neill said on a bright, sunny Friday morning. "As far as rain or shine, we're not going to change anything shoeing-wise He's going to wear the same shoes he's got on. We'd just love to have a beautiful day."
Rain could be a good thing for several of his top rivals, though, especially Derby runner-up Exaggerator, or long shot Cherry Wine. Both have run well in the mud, with Exaggerator taking the Santa Anita Derby on a sloppy track and Cherry Wine breaking his maiden by 9 ½ lengths under similar conditions.
"I'll be one of the few people doing a rain dance," Cherry Wine's trainer Dale Romans said.
Nyquist, with an 8-0 record, won the Florida Derby over a surface listed as good even though the track had been drenched by a rainstorm before the race.
The fleet son of Uncle Mo is a win away from a shot at the Triple Crown, which would give racing back-to-back Triples for the second time. American Pharoah became the first to sweep the Derby, Preakness and Belmont since Affirmed in 1978, a year after Seattle Slew won it.
But first, Nyquist has to defeat 10 rivals at 1 3-16ths miles over Pimlico Race Course, a track he's become familiar with over the past two weeks. The 3-5 favorite leaves from the No. 3 post with Mario Gutierrez aboard.