Derby Prep Alert
Derby Prep Alert

May 20, 2016Sponsored by BRIS, our Preferred Past Performance Provider

Sponsored by BRIS, our Preferred Past Performance Provider

The second leg of the Triple Crown is upon us, and it’s time to find out if we’ll go into the Belmont with the Triple Crown on the line.

Have a great time and cash plenty of tickets!

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News About the Contenders

Belmont: So Far, Seven Pointing for Belmont Park
Blood-Horse: Post Preakness Stakes News Update (Video)
Blood-Horse: 2016 Preakness Race Sequence
Blood-Horse: 2016 Preakness Slide Show
Blood-Horse: Preakness Stakes: Cherry Wine Day After (Video)
Blood-Horse: Songbird Fleet in First Work Back
Courier-Journal: Belmont rematch next for Nyquist, Exaggerator
Pimlico: 2016 Preakness Trainer and Jockey Quotes (pdf)
Twinspires: 9 Interesting facts about the 2016 Preakness Stakes
Twinspires: Preakness runner-up Cherry Wine, fifth-placer Lani expected for Belmont Stakes
Twinspires: Uncle Lino exits Preakness with tendon injury

Blood-Horse: Danzing Candy Moves to Baffert Barn
Blood-Horse: Haskin: Preakness Questions Abound…Or do They?
Blood-Horse: Oaks Runners Back for Black-Eyed Susan
Courier-Journal: Derby runner Shagaf out for the year
DRF: Land Over Sea, Go Maggie Go rematched in Black-Eyed Susan
DRF: Preakness: This time, Fellowship is in
DRF: Stradivari lacks experience but not talent heading into Preakness
DRF: Nyquist takes it easy at Pimlico
Twinspires: Why Lani’s team changed plans and added Preakness to itinerary

Preakness Stakes

Pimlico, Saturday May 21, post time: 6:45 pm ET
1 3/16 miles (9.5 furlongs)

2016 Preakness Replay

2016 Preakness Chart courtesy of our partners,

2016 Preakness News & Recaps
Blood-Horse: Exaggerator Turns the Tables, Wins Preakness
DRF: Fast opening quarter took its toll on Nyquist
DRF: Exaggerator finally beats Nyquist, wins Preakness

2016 Preakness Preview
This year’s Grade 1 Preakness Stakes is a straightforward handicapping exercise on paper.  The 3-5 morning line favorite and Grade 1 Kentucky Derby victor, Nyquist sees only two Kentucky Derby rivals in Exaggerator and Lani, who return to take another shot.  With so few key defections from the Derby field, the Derby represented the very best of what the crop had to offer at this particular point in time.  This makes the eight other entrants who did not run in the Derby the first cut below the very best of what the Derby had to offer.  

Going into the Derby, the main question surrounding Nyquist was whether or not he could get the demanding mile and a quarter distance.  He answered that question rather emphatically, attending a hot pace while not bothered by the best efforts of early pace rivals Danzing Candy, Gun Runner and Outwork. He drew off in the stretch to hold off Exaggerator and secure victory.  The biggest surprise, however, was on the tote board.  Not only was Nyquist the favorite, but he was bet down heavily.  His off odds were below popular recent Derby favorites American Pharoah and California Chrome.  Making this even more impressive was the fact that Nyquist’s Derby had 19 other betting interests, more than either American Pharoah’s or California Chrome’s Derby contests.  For a race that seemed so wide open going in, the Derby proved a formful exercise not only on the track, but also on the tote. 

Expect Nyquist to be bet heavily once again.  The main question in the Preakness is going to be the weather, as rain is in the forecast.  While his victory in the Grade 1 Florida Derby did come over a wet track, there’s the real possibility of a washout, according to the forecast.

Second choice on the morning line at 3-1, Exaggerator has now seen the back of Nyquist in all four tries against him.  Taking a look back at the replays for those four efforts, it’s hard to find a point in any of those races where one could say Exaggerator was going to beat Nyquist.  Despite what the running lines may suggest, he’s simply been no match for the Derby winner, and this despite deploying different tactics.  In the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, he got the early jump on Nyquist and was no match late.  In the Grade 2 San Vicente, he tried to stalk Nyquist and that did not work out.  In the Derby, he tried to make a one-run closing move but was never a threat late. 

There are some positives to note, however.  The presence of other early speed in here should assure that Exaggerator has an honest pace to run at, and the possibility of an off track based on the weather forecast, one that resembles his Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby score, would certainly only help his chances to finally turn the tables on Nyquist.

Stradivari, third choice on the morning line at 10-1, could be any kind with only three starts to his tab.  He broke his maiden in an off-the-turf two-turn route in his second start at Gulfstream late last year by over 10 lengths.  Not seen again until four months later at Keeneland, he won a first-level allowance at 9 furlongs by a margin of 14 lengths.  This, however, is a huge jump in class.  He will be picking up eight additional pounds, and he’ll have to deal with the type of early pace pressure he’s never previously had to face, and all while stretching out against quality opponents.  While he is open to improvement, that is a tough ask given the price and the circumstances.

Collected has won back-to-back races after coming up short in the Grade 3 Southwest earlier this year.  In that Southwest effort, Collected was in perfect position entering the stretch but was flat late and couldn’t hold off the closers or put away early pace rival American Dubai.  In the Sunland Park Festival of Racing Stakes, he set a moderate pace and was never threatened while going gate-to-wire.  In the Grade 3 Lexington, he sat a perfect stalking trip and drew away late to secure the win.  Going strictly on his effort in the Southwest, a race in which the competition was better than in his last two, it would appear that this distance may pose a challenge, and the presence of other early pace only makes his task more difficult.

Cherry Wine just missed second in the Grade 1 Blue Grass in his last effort, and that placing cost him a spot in the Derby starting gate.  In that Blue Grass effort, he was in tight early from the rail, faced a wall of horses entering the stretch and found some room to his outside for his closing kick to finish third.  This is a deep closer in a field with lots of early speed.  He’s improved with each effort this year and looks like the most logical of horses to have besides the two heavy favorites on exotic tickets.

Lani returns here after an even effort in the Derby.  In that Derby, like his winning effort in the Grade 2 U.A.E. Derby, he was once again off slow and just plodded along to finish ninth.  He would need to improve significantly to factor here, and do note that both his efforts on muddy off tracks in Japan were less than his best.  Uncle Lino ships in from California after an easy, gate-to-wire win in the California Chrome Stakes at Los Alamitos.  His previous effort in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby, while attending a hot pace, proved no match for Exaggerator.  In the Grade 2 San Felipe, he once again attended the pace and gave way late, while not factoring in the result.  He’s a horse with real early zip, and both his wins came when he was able to dictate the early pace.  From post 2, expect him to be sent out to the early lead, but do question his ability to stay around when the real running begins. 

Awesome Speed has won three listed stakes in his last four races.  His only effort against this class, two back in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth, found him unable to attain the early lead and unable to stay on late versus quality opponents like Mohaymen and Fellowship.  He would need to improve several lengths to factor here.  

Abiding Star has reeled off five straight victories at Parx and Laurel, and every one of those victories was in gate-to-wire fashion.  While he’s on the improve, there’s other early speed here, the kind of which he’s never seen, and that could derail an attempted sixth straight victory.  Fellowship has danced many a dance, finishing third in each of the three Florida preps before proving no match for Sharp Azteca two weeks ago in the Grade 3 Pat Day Mile.  He’s another, like Cherry Wine, who stands to benefit from a fast early pace and is the type of longshot worth including in exoticsLaoban is a maiden who has a propensity for early speed, setting the pace in both the Grade 3 Gotham and the Blue Grass before yielding very late.  Here, he is taking the blinkers off in an effort to throttle back that early zip and try to work out a manageable trip.  When he was taken back in the Grade 3 Sham, his effort was not all that bad considering that he was forced very wide early, while not appearing to appreciate both not getting the lead and the dirt in his face from those leaders.  He’s another to consider on only your deepest of exotic tickets.

Chris Rossi