2016 Preakness Stakes Picks and Analysis
Nyquist/Exaggerator Exacta looks solid again in 141st Preakness Stakes
2016 Preakness Stakes-G1, Race 13, Pimlico Race Course, Saturday, May 21, 2016
3-Year-Olds, 1 3/16-miles, Dirt, Purse: $1.5 million
Preakness Stakes Picks
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Preakness Stakes Analysis
Could we have two Triple Crown winners in a row?
Not to get ahead of ourselves here, but Nyquist looks like he could win it all if he can overcome the sloppy mess predicted at Pimlico Race Course for the 141st running of the Preakness on Saturday. And he will get the trip.
The undefeated son of Uncle Mo will face 10 rivals in the 2016 Preakness and only one of them looks like he has any shot at all of coming close. That would be Exaggerator, who finished 1 1/4-lengths behind Nyquist in the Kentucky Derby after some overblown trouble. But Exaggerator did run well in the Derby and he does love the wet stuff predicted for Saturday, based on his romping 6 1/4-length win in the Santa Anita Derby-G1.
The only other Kentucky Derby runner in this year's Preakness is crazy Japanese horse and UAE Derby-G2 winner Lani, and he hasn't shown he's fast enough to compete with a number of horses in the Preakness field.
The wildcard, and everybody knows it, is Todd Pletcher trainee Stradivari, if only because we don't know how good he is yet. He's taking a big step up in class off two double-digit wins over suspect company in a Maiden Special Weight race at Gulfstream Park going 1 1/16-miles at Gulfstream Park and a N1X allowance at Keeneland going 1 1/8-miles.
Stradivari simply galloped around in those races and it's unlikely he's going to be able to do that here. And while proven on a good track at Gulfstream, he'll also have to prove he can handle the slop now. He doesn't appear to need the lead to win and could sit just behind the ample speed in the Preakness before making his move. The problem is he'll have to go with Nyquist, and that is definitely a problem.
The rider/trainer combination of Todd Pletcher and John Velazquez will likely be overbet despite the fact that Pletcher horses just never seem to run without any imagination in the big races. They graduate from N1X and N2X allowance races, where they have often beaten up on less talented opposition, and never seem to take the next step of becoming professional racehorses that "know how to win" when it gets tough. Stradivari has obvious talent, but we'll be looking elsewhere for some value in the Preakness Superfecta and Trifecta.
This year's Preakness is loaded with speed including Uncle Lino, Awesome Speed, Collected, Laoban, Abiding Star and maybe Stradivari, any of whom could get the lead by themselves if they gunned it early. As could Nyquist, but he's the only horse we know for sure would be more comfortable stalking a speed duel.
Nyquist and Stradivari look like the only real second flight horses, and the remainder are deep closers including second choice Exaggerator, Cherry Wine, Lani and Fellowship. There's no question that Exaggerator is the best of the deep closers.
It would seem to be a dumb move to send Stradivari gunning from the widest post to try and steal a race loaded with speed, so we're going to guess that he'll instead stick to the outside of Nyquist behind the speed and make his move when that one does. It shouldn't take Nyquist more than an eighth of a mile to teach that one a lesson and after Nyquist opens a two length lead in early stretch, the ralliers will come running.
We'll once again take Nyquist on top of Exaggerator in the Preakness Exacta with a reverse play of about 20 percent of our main bet amount, just in case.
We'll have to use all on the bottom of our Preakness Superfecta, but in the third spot in the Superfecta and Trifecta we'll use Collected for the Castellano/Baffert rider/trainer angle; Cherry Wine, who is a gradually improving plodder; Fellowship, another plodder who finished third behind Nyquist in the Florida Derby-G1; Abiding Star, who has won five in a row, has a stamina laden pedigree and who is also proven on a wet track; Uncle Lino, third behind Exaggerator in the Santa Anita Derby, and reluctantly, the talented Stradivari, who could make us look dumb. Click here to bet the race now!
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