As trainer Doug O’Neill puts Nyquist and Land Over Sea through their paces leading up to this weekend’s Preakness and Black-Eyed Susan stakes, he is accompanied on his morning rounds by Jim Jimenez.
O’Neill and Jimenez have an easy rapport, whether they are studying past performances together or watching the stable’s stars breeze and gallop. O’Neill is blessed with a certain calmness and optimism, and Jimenez might even be a bit more laid-back. The result is that even during a week as important and potentially stressful as this, the atmosphere remains business as usual, or at least close to it.
Jimenez has been O’Neill’s farrier for 22 years. He worked on O’Neill’s first Derby winner, I’ll Have Another, and for the last 3 weeks has been on the road with the stable, first in Kentucky and now at Pimlico. With a little luck, the next stop will be New York.
Last Sunday, Jimenez put a new set of racing plates on Land Over Sea, the expected favorite in Friday’s Black-Eyed Susan Stakes. He replaced Nyquist’s shoes the week before the Derby and will do so again a week before the Belmont.
Nyquist has seemed remarkably calm during his training at Pimlico, and Jimenez says he is like that when he shoes him, too.
“When you shoe him,” Jimenez says, “he stands perfectly still and doesn’t move a muscle the whole time.”