So we’re back at Pimlico Racetrack for another Preakness Stakes with horse racing fans hoping we have another horse tipped for the Triple Crown. Despite all the positive vibes from American Pharoah’s Triple Crown victory last year, we don’t seem to have great excitement about Nyquist repeating the effort this year. Maybe the casual fan got what it needed and has moved on as opposed to becoming more attached to the race. The party is still fired up on the infield for those attending in person, but the project rain in the forecast might be dampening the spirits as well.
My spirits, however, are never dampened when it comes to Triple Crown races. We took a shot to beat Nyquist in the Kentucky Derby because of how hard it is for the favorite to win the Derby and we came up short. It was nothing against Nyquist. It was just the path I decided to take. Choosing the chalk come in the top two spots in the race isn’t always fun when there’s plenty of valueon the board. Now Nyquist looks to become the 11th horse in the last 29 years to win the first two legs of the Triple Crown and we’re ready to back him.
In the opposite of the Derby, the Preakness shapes up to have plenty of early speed in the race. Uncle Lino, Awesome Speed, Laoban, Abiding Star, and Stradivari have all shown interest in getting to the front of the race in their history and look likely to do the same again this Saturday. That’s fine for Nyquist because his tactical speed allows for him to see wherever he wants before unleashing the fury. I’m not too worried about him getting caught up in a fast pace because that happened in the Derby and he still won. The Preakness is a slightly shorter race, so there’s no reason to fear a hot start.
It’ll be interesting to see whether or not the pace is so fast that it allows Exaggerator and Cherry Wine to close late and steal a piece. There’s not Exaggerator is better at than losing to Nyquist. He’s won four races in his 10 starts and four of his six losses have been to Nyquist. People are applauding his team for entering him right back in the Preakness, but if he hasn’t caught Nyquist charging from behind and hasn’t kept up with him trying to run near the front, why would a shorter race than the Derby make that any easier on him? He should be saving it for the Belmont and hopefully he runs in it anyway because that will be the true test.
The Preakness is usually an easier race to predict. Here’s a look at all 11 horses running on Saturday:
1 – Cherry Wine – 20/1
The closer came in third in the Blue Grass Stakes to two horses that finished 7th and 11th in the Derby. That’s not exactly impressive. It’s generally harder for a horse to come from behind in bad weather because of the mud getting kicked up in his face the whole race. It’ll be tough for him to finish in the top four.
2 – Uncle Lino – 20/1
Lino came in third to Exaggerator in the Santa Anita Derby, but put up an amazing speed figure in the California Chrome Stakes. Horses off such a number usually bounce backwards, so I don’t see Lino competing for a top 2 spot, but maybe he nicks a spot in the superfecta.
3 – Nyquist – 3/5
The favorite is a deserved one. Nyquist has shown he can do whatever it takes to win and Saturday won’t be any different. His major challenger is one that he owns historically. He’s going to Belmont with two legs under his belt.
4 – Awesome Speed – 30/1
He’ll be near the front, but he’s probably not fast enough to get the lead against some better horses here. He finished 4th in the highest-quality race he took part in before this one, so don’t expect more than hearing his name early and watching him fade late.
5 – Exaggerator – 3/1
The horse from California won’t win. The question is does he come up second or does he get that far up the track because the front runners stay in front. With a hot pace and him clearly being the best horse here, there’s no reason to think Exaggerator won’t finish second to Nyquist…again.
6 – Lani – 30/1
We really knew nothing about him before the Derby and he put in a mediocre effort to finish in 9th. He’ll come late, but looks worse than Exaggerator and Cherry Wine when it comes to closing speed.
7 – Collected – 10/1
Bob Baffert’s colt isn’t a bad one. He’s won four of his six starts, three of them being Grade 3 stakes races. But this is a Grade 1 race and we’re not sure if he’s ready for the big boys. He’s apparently training well and is definitely one of the top picks to hold on from the front to finish in third or fourth.
8 – Laoban – 30/1
Since Cherry Wine finished in third in the Blue Grass and we’re not rating him, there’s no reason to rate the horse who finished one spot behind Cherry Wine. His speed figures are mediocre and he’ll likely fall back after a hot start. He does have pedigree for a wet track, which makes me like him more than some other long shots.
9 – Abiding Star – 30/1
It looks like Abiding Star is in over his head here now that he faces much better horses. He’ll be near the front, but like Laoban, we expect him to fall back. He’ll just go further back than Laoban
10 – Fellowship – 30/1
He finished third in three Derby prep races before not accruing enough points to run in the Derby. Instead he ran fourth in the Pat Day Mile, which wasn’t impressive. Luckily for him the quality of opponents in this one is pretty bad, so he could compete to be in the top four.
11 – Stradivari – 8/1
Todd Pletcher has as little success in the Preakness as he’s had in the Derby. Stradiviari put up a tremendous number in his last race, but he hasn’t faced quality opponents. Is he ready to take the next step or is he competing against much better horses? I wanna say the latter, but I’m not completely convinced.
1st – Nyquist
2nd – Exaggerator
3rd – CollectedChe
4th – Fellowship
How to Bet the Race:
I love drawing the line in the sand with a good horse in the Preakness. Put Nyquist up top of all your exactas and trifectas. Don’t box him. Key him on top and wheel some other choices behind him. Bet heavy cause these exactas and trifectas won’t pay much, but at least you can hammer them at the window. I’d put Exaggerator in second on 75% of your bets with Collected, Fellowship, and Stradivari wheeled third and fourth in most of those with maybe a small piece on Cherry Wine and Uncle Lino in the back two. Then the other 25% should have Exaggerator in third with the collection of three ahead of him this time in second and them plus Wine and Lino in fourth. Best of luck!