After more than 10 hours in a van, Kentucky Derby runner-up Exaggerator arrived at Pimlico Race Course Sunday and settled into the Preakness Stakes Barn.
He will spend the rest of the week preparing for a rematch with Derby winner Nyquist in Saturday's 141st Preakness.
Exaggerator was a fast-closing second in the Derby and could have the best chance to keep Nyquist from a shot at the Triple Crown despite losing four times to him.
Julie Clarke, trainer Keith Desormeaux's assistant who drove a pickup truck with a van carrying Exaggerator during the 10-hour, 15-minute trip from Churchill Downs, called the trip "uneventful."
"The weather was cool and the traffic was really good," Clarke said.
The Santa Anita Derby winner is scheduled to walk the shedrow Monday morning and might make a trip to the paddock for schooling, Clarke said. Exaggerator, a son of 2007 winner Curlin, has a career record of 10-4-3-1 with losses to Nyquist twice as a 3-year-old.
Exaggerator was joined in the van by a Desormeaux-trained 2-year-old. Clarke followed a larger commercial van that transported four other horses expected to race over Preakness weekend, including Right There and Swipe.
"I didn't know the route and I figured they did, so I'd just follow along," Clarke said.
Exaggerator's other stakes victories have come in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special and the Grade 3 Delta Jackpot. He has career earnings of $2,071,120.
O'Neill has "goose bumps": Nyquist galloped a strong mile Sunday morning at Pimlico Race Course and even impressed his trainer, Doug O'Neill.
"He's a special horse. When you get here in the morning and walk down the shedrow and you're able to look in his eye, you know you're right alongside greatness," O'Neill said. "What he did today gave you goose bumps, but he does that every day. It's only been eight days since he won the Derby, so you'd expect a little deflation in his energy level, but he was as strong as ever."
The undefeated 3-year-old colt backtracked in the company of a pony ridden by assistant trainer Jack Sisterson to the top of the first turn before reversing and taking a once-around gallop that was completed in full stride under exercise rider Jonny Garcia.
"We're very happy. The plan going into today was to have a comfortable gallop. We got him going a minute and 55 seconds for a mile, under a two-minute lick," O'Neill said. "Jonny was happy. The way he looked out there left us all smiling."
Nyquist, who beat Exaggerator by 1 1/4 lengths in the Derby, jogs one day and gallops the next in his training regimen. The son of Uncle Mo is scheduled to jog two miles Monday morning.
"He had five races as a 2-year-old, and with babies you've got to go easy on them. He just never missed a beat. We started having that approach with him early on, and as he continued to win, we weren't going to change," O'Neill said of the workouts.
Nyquist has flourished under the alternating morning activities and has won five Grade 1 stakes among his eight victories without defeat.
Awesome Speed will ship Thursday: Awesome Speed continues his workouts at his Colts Neck Stable base in New Jersey and is scheduled for another endurance-building gallop on Monday before a possible final work on Tuesday.
"We may give him an easy breeze on Tuesday, maybe a half-mile," said trainer Alan Goldberg.
Awesome Speed, a son of Awesome Again, earned an automatic berth in the Preakness when he won the Federico Tesio at Laurel on April 9.
"We'll ship down on Thursday," said Goldberg, who personally may not come to Pimlico until race day. "It's about three hours."
Awesome Speed is 4-for-6 lifetime and has won two of his three starts as a sophomore. He was fourth behind Mohaymen in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth.
Collected works: Speedway Stable's Collected returned to the track at Churchill Downs Sunday morning to jog under exercise rider George Alvarez.
Trained by six-time Preakness winner Bob Baffert, Collected had walked Saturday following a seven-furlong work of 1:24.80 on Friday.
A two-time Grade 3 winner, Collected is scheduled to ship to Pimlico on Tuesday.
Parx quarantine affects Abiding Star: Trainer Ned Allard has been forced to alter Abiding Star's racing schedule this spring because of an equine herpesvirus quarantine at Parx Racing since April 1. Allard said he is hopeful that the quarantine is lifted and he's able to follow through on his plan to run the son of Uncle Mo in the Preakness.
The Maryland Jockey Club is prepared to take special precautions for Parx-based horses shipping to Pimlico if the quarantine be lifted. Parx horses would train at 5 a.m. before regular training hours and would be housed in isolation stalls away from the Preakness Stakes Barns.
Abiding Star is riding a five-race winning streak, including the $100,000 Parx Derby by 1 ¾ lengths as the 3-5 favorite May 7.
Allard said he is optimistic that the quarantine at Parx could ultimately work to his advantage.
"As it's turned out, at least we were able to find some races in between as far as keeping them racing, and the purses were good. It really hasn't been as inconvenient as you might think. Who knows? It might have been beneficial because they got some races into them, built up their confidence and picked up some money to boot," Allard said. "We did miss some races, and who knows how they would have turned out? But they had some races and built up their confidence."
J.D. Acosta is scheduled to ride Abiding Star, who is tentatively scheduled to ship to Pimlico Thursday morning.