Keith Desormeaux has uttered unfettered praise of Nyquist since the undefeated two-year-old champion male of 2015 defeated the colt he trains, Exaggerator, in the San Vicente Stakes on Feb. 15, uncharacteristic for an opposing trainer.

Desormeaux is still on the Nyquist bandwagon after he defeated Exaggerator for the fourth time, the latest conquest coming in the Kentucky Derby at a mile and a quarter.

This year’s version of Affirmed versus Alydar is set to unfold again in the 1 3/16-mile Preakness Stakes on May 21, when the one-two finishers in the Run for the Roses square off again in the second jewel of the Triple Crown at Pimlico.

Desormeaux is nonplussed as to how Nyquist still has detractors despite a perfect eight-for-eight record, a convincing victory over previously undefeated Mohaymen on his home track of Gulfstream Park, and a flawless resume.

“After the San Vicente, when Nyquist set the pace and went a half in 44 and still outran Exaggerator, who is a nice horse, how can you not have a ton of respect for him?,” Desormeaux asked, brow furrowed.

“Then he goes and beats the undefeated East Coast horse (Mohaymen in the Florida Derby). Nyquist should have been 2-5 in the Kentucky Derby in my book. I think one reason he wasn’t given credit is because people want to find excuses to build their own confidence even though the facts are staring them in the face.

“They still want to support their favorite horse. A lot of it is fan-oriented, or betting-oriented, I guess.”

Desormeaux will van Exaggerator from Churchill Downs to Pimlico Sunday for the Preakness.

“I haven’t really done a lot of homework on the race yet, but I don’t think the shorter distance will affect our style much, plus that’s up to Kent (Desormeaux, Keith’s younger brother and Exaggerator’s regular rider),” Keith said.

“It’s all about a judge of pace. It doesn’t matter if the race is shorter, longer, whatever. It’s a matter of getting your horse comfortable. If he’s comfortable five lengths off the leader, I’m happy with that.”



      Follow Me Crev, who was one of the favorites for the Santa Anita Handicap last March

12 before an injury forced him to miss the race, could return in next Sunday’s Grade II, $200,000 Californian Stakes for three-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles.

The four-year-old gelded son of Quality Road trained by Vladimir Cerin for principal owners David and Holly Wilson is scheduled to work Sunday morning. He has had a string of breezes since he was sidelined after winning four straight overnight races, the last on Feb. 14.

“He had a quarter crack, and an abscess popped out of it as well,” Cerin said. “We just

gave him enough time for it to completely heal, but I don’t know if he’s fit enough (for the Californian). We’ll see.”

If he runs, Alonso Quinonez rides. Jerry Hollendorfer plans to enter Lieutenant Colonel (Rafael Bejarano) and Point Piper (Martin Garcia).

      Richard Mandella said Brazilian-bred turf specialist Bal a Bali would pass the Californian

in favor of the grassy Charles Whittingham Stakes, a Grade II, $200,000 test at a mile and a quarter on May 29.



With a $50,000 top cash prize to shoot at, the 2016 Santa Anita Preakness Challenge will be offered to horseplayers wagering on all live races at Santa Anita, along with the Grade I Preakness Stakes and the Grade II Longines Dixie Stakes from Pimlico on May 21-22.

The live money contest has a $4,500 buy-in ($3,000 bankroll and $1,500 prize pool) with players required to bet a minimum of $250 per race on at least four races a day ($2,000).

The remaining $1,000 must also be wagered during the contest. There are no maximums but players must wager a minimum of their entire $3,000 bankroll over the course of the contest. Contest wagers include Win/Place/Show/Exacta and Daily Doubles.

Prizes based on a minimum of 80 entries are $50,000 for first, $20,000 for second, $10,000 for third and $5,000 for fourth. The top five finishers will receive a 2017 National Handicapping Betting Challenge prize package that includes a hotel room and round trip airfare to Las Vegas.

Players can sign up online at, or contact Santa Anita Vice President of Marketing Nate Newby at or by phone at 626 574-6391.


FINISH LINES: For the record, apprentice jockey Jose Barnes who pilots 4-1 morning line chance Plus Perfect for Hector Palma in today’s 11th race, made his Santa Anita debut last Sunday, finishing second on 18-1 shot Little Scotty for Neil Drysdale. And at four feet, seven inches tall, Barnes is not the shortest jockey ever to ride in North America. That dubious distinction likely would go to Billy Klinke, who tipped the scales at 102 pounds and stood four feet, three inches high. Move over, Tom Thumb . . . Santa Anita offers an $18 Trackside Package on Preakness Day next Saturday. It includes admission, seating, the first drink, a tip sheet and a commemorative Nyquist mason jar. Tickets can be purchased at http://www/ . . . First post time at Santa Anita Preakness Day is 12 noon.


Santa Anita Statistics                
(Current Through Friday, May 13)          
Jockey Mts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% ITM% Money Won  
Edwin Maldonado 31 7 7 5 23% 61% $250,426  
Rafael Bejarano 25 7 5 4 28% 64% $253,888  
Joseph Talamo 24 6 4 3 25% 54% $301,915  
Santiago Gonzalez 28 4 6 2 14% 43% $204,815  
Tyler Baze 32 3 6 10 9% 59% $218,270  
Martin Garcia 16 3 3 2 19% 50% $176,460  
Flavien Prat 16 3 1 3 19% 44% $145,905  
Martin Pedroza 18 3 1 3 17% 39% $81,500  
Tiago Pereira 21 2 3 6 10% 52% $78,563  
Brayan Pena 15 2 0 2 13% 27% $38,620  
Fernando Perez 14 2 0 1 14% 21% $70,275  
Trainer Mts 1st 2nd 3rd Win% ITM% Money Won  
Philip D’Amato 17 4 5 2 24% 65% $243,415  
Jerry Hollendorfer 14 3 2 3 21% 57% $199,295  
Mark Glatt 12 3 1 2 25% 50% $85,066  
Hector Palma 5 3 1 0 60% 80% $51,745  
John Sadler 14 3 0 1 21% 29% $217,760  
John Brocklebank 4 2 2 0 50% 100% $82,200  
Mike Puype 12 2 1 2 17% 42% $84,855  
Edward R. Freeman 4 2 1 1 50% 100% $73,120  
Peter Eurton 5 2 0 1 40% 60% $40,290  
David Hofmans 5 2 0 0 40% 40% $79,635