Kudos to Zayat for keeping Nehro in the barn

It had to be very tempting for owner Ahmed Zayat to enter his talented 3-year-old colt, Nehro, in Saturday’s Preakness Stakes.

After all, he’d closed like a freight train to finish second in the Arkansas Derby behind Archarcharch on April 16 and then followed that effort with a runner-up showing in the Kentucky Derby on May 7.

Zayat has been saying the past few days that the colt looked great and was sending out signals that he was ready to go in the Preakness, but Zayat himself was hesitant. He said he had mixed emotions about running.

Well, on Tuesday morning he made his decision. He said Nehro will not be entered in the Preakness today, and it says here that he’s absolutely making the right decision. By skipping the second leg of the Triple Crown, the colt’s connections figure to reap the rewards further down the line, i.e. Belmont, Travers and perhaps the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

When an owner and/or trainer is conflicted over what to do, it’s best to go with the gut feeling and wait for another opportunity. It was obvious Zayat had reservations about running Nehro and decided to listen to his head and not his heart.

“It’s a very hard decision, but I want to err on the side of caution,” Zayat told the Daily Racing Form. “He couldn’t look any better. His work on Monday was absolutely awesome. I’m just concerned about him having four hard races in eight weeks, even if, outwardly, he doesn’t appear to be showing it.

“I want to be super cautious. I want to keep him happy and healthy for the rest of the year. We are in a great position to have a horse who can run in these classics. We will point now for the Belmont, God willing.”

Nehro’s defection means five Derby starters, including Animal Kingdom, Mucho Macho Man, Shackleford, Dialed In and Midnight Interlude, will likely run in the 1 3/16-mile Preakness.

Only three times in the past 28 runnings of the Preakness has a non-Derby starter won the race, including Rachel Alexandra in 2009, Bernardini in ’06 and Red Bullet in 2000. Before that, you have to go back to Deputed Testamony in 1983 to find a Preakness winner who didn’t run in the Derby.

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