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Trainer Doug O’Neill not pushing Nyquist in Preakness week

Mario Gutierrez, middle, trainer Doug O'Neill, left, and

Mario Gutierrez, middle, trainer Doug O'Neill, left, and horse owner J. Paul Reddam hold the trophy after Gutierrez rode Nyquist to victory in the 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs Saturday, May 7, 2016, in Louisville, Kentucky Credit: AP / Julio Cortez

BALTIMORE — Kentucky Derby winners rarely turn in a timed workout at Pimlico for the Preakness. Doug O’Neill is continuing the tradition with Nyquist, alternating days of jogging and galloping.

Instead of blasting through 5 furlongs in 59 seconds under exercise rider Jonny Garcia, Nyquist is building his stamina. He’ll jog through the opening furlongs in about 20 seconds, then pick it up and average 15 seconds per eighth of a mile.

“You don’t want to overdo it,” O’Neill said. “But at the same time, you don’t want to tiptoe into a race, either. When you get longer in the tooth as a trainer, you get more comfortable with the horses and listening to what they say.

“Probably a little less is better.”

A day of rest

Brenda Desormeaux is a fervent Catholic, and she stressed the importance of religion to her six children. The oldest, Keith Desormeaux, has kept the faith. Besides attending mass on Sunday, he makes it a day of rest for himself and the crew at his barn.

“When I started doing this on my own, I said, ‘Why does this have to be a seven-day job?’ ” the trainer of Derby runner-up Exaggerator said. “My horses are given every Sunday off, and so is my help. I like to go to church on Sunday, and so do some of my help.

“We go by this creed: If you can’t get ’em fit in six days, you probably shouldn’t be doing this.’’

Closing thought

Dale Romans trains Cherry Wine, one of four deep closers in a Preakness loaded with early speed. Romans offered some self-serving advice to O’Neill and Nyquist’s jockey, Mario Gutierrez.

“Have Mario get him in front of the speed at the five-eighths pole. Make him go fast.”

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