Tomorrow, May 21st the gates will crack open for the running of the 1 3/16 mile Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Racecourse at about 6:45 pm on NBC. The forecast is 100% chance of rain. This usually means we should expect a sloppy track, not a wet track as the DRF likes to say. The Derby was run at 1 1/4 mile.
The race looks like a two horse affair with Nyquist at 3-5 and Exaggerator at 3-1. The field of 11 includes 8 new contenders who did not run at Churchill Downs two weeks ago. Of particular note, Gun Runner dropped out. Of these, at least 4 will go to the early lead into the first turn with the favorite Nyquist. Only two horses challenged early in the Derby. I predict all four of these…..Uncle Lino (2), Awesome Speed (4), Laoban (8) and Abiding Star (9) will out gun Nyquist to the first turn. If so, it will cause a big challenge to the undefeated Nyquist. Stradivari (11) will play his violin as a close up closer and run next to Nyquist as will Collected (7) who also likes to stalk the pace and close. That will leave late runners Cherry Wine (1) no shot, Lani (6) no shot, Fellowship (10) no shot ; all of whom will hope to close from far back along with my choice, Exaggerator (5).
Key to the race and perhaps the only hope for Exaggerator to beat the talented Nyquist; is for Stradivari ridden by JR Velesquez one of the best riders out there to get up and over and box Nyquist in near the rail behind the 4 front runners going through the first turn. Nyquist has beaten Exaggerator FOUR TIMES now; so logic suggests he should win again. Also, if the track is sloppy it is a plus for the closer. Don’t believe what they say about running on a sloppy. No horse likes the slop….some just run the same in it while most do not.
Keith Desormeaux thinks his horse, Exaggerator has a great ability to “recover” from a big race like the Derby. Doug O’Neil, Nyquist’s trainer, said his horse was laying down in his stall sleeping more. Nyquist ran only twice this year so maybe he will be a bit off in the Preakness due to only two weeks to rest up after the Derby. Whatever. I think we have two great horses and then the rest are more or less, gonna just get in their way.
Here is my betting choices:
(5) Exaggerator to win at 3-1 ; hard to bet Nyquist to win at only 3-5.
(3) Nyquist and (5) Exaggerator in an exacta box again ( like i said in the Derby). Bet heavy since it won’t pay much.
(3) Nyquist, (5) Exaggerator with both (11) Stradivari and Abiding Star (9) in a Triple Box.
We look forward to a great and very interesting race. If Exaggerator wins then the Belmont Stakes in three weeks in New York will be a fantastic grudge match. Good luck !