Is Nyquist a Lock in the 2016 Preakness Stakes?

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D.S. Williamson

May 15th, 2016

That's the question on the minds of every Triple Crown playing handicapper on the planet. No horse has had as much buzz going into the Preakness Stakes since, well, American Pharoah in 2015. It's only been a year since trainer Bob Baffert broke the Triple Crown drought with one of the most fantastic racehorses we've ever seen. But Nyquist isn't American Pharoah. There are reasons, which I detailed in a blog earlier this week, that point to Nyquist possibly winning the Triple Crown. Those reasons are still valid. They're just not as valid as they were when I wrote the blog.

Usually the Preakness is a ho-hum affair. This year, the Preakness might be the most important race in the Quest for the Crown. American Pharoah in 2015, California Chrome in 2014, and I'll Have Another in 2012 all won the Preakness Stakes after winning the Kentucky Derby. Each one of those horses didn't face a talented field like what Nyquist faces in this Saturday's Preakness Stakes.

Stradivari isn't a horse to be trifled with. He's more akin to a Red Bullet, who upset Fusaichi Pegasus in 2000, or Rachel Alexandra, who won the Preakness off the bench in 2009, than he is to Divining Rod who finished third to Pharoah last year. He's a serious player on Saturday.

Another serious player is Uncle Lino who is as gutsy, if not as talented, as Nyquist. Uncle Lino ran a fantastic race over Los Alamitos' funky thoroughbred track to win the California Chrome stakes in his last. So, yes, the answer is Nyquist can be beat in the 2016 Preakness Stakes. But rather than pick a winner, I'm going to lay out a few words of wisdom from a betting point of view. Odds listed are from Vegasinsider.com.

2016 Preakness Stakes
Most Likely Winner:  Nyquist, 3/5

The most likely winner isn't always the best horse to back in a horse race. Most of the time, especially in big races, its the worse horse to back. I still can't get myself to bite at 3/5. I think that Nyquist ran an awesome race at Churchill Downs. But, who knows?  It was probably the most grueling race of his life, meaning that he might bounce just enough for an upset on May 21.

Biggest Play Against:  Exaggerator, 7/2

My feeling is that Exaggerator might pull a Dortmund in the Preakness on Saturday. Dortmund was a tired horse by the time that he ran in Pimlico. I think that could be the case this Saturday for Exaggerator. The Preakness will be his fifth race since Feb. 15. That's 5 tough races in 3 months.

Best Bet So Far:  Stradivari, 7/1

I've seen Stradivari's odds anywhere from 7/1 to up to 20/1 in future books this past week. Later this week, my guess is that his odds will be set at around 5/1 to 7/1. I believe he goes off as a solid second choice to Nyquist before they leave the gate on May 21. He's got the breeding, the trainer, and the talent to upset Nyquist in the Preakness. So far, he's my play on top.
Best Longshot Bet So Far:  Uncle Lino, 30/1

He was so gutsy in the California Chrome that it's hard for me to see him not digging in his heels once Nyquist comes up to him. Make no mistake, Uncle Lino will go for the lead in the Preakness right out of the gate. If Nyquist doesn't press him early enough, he could steal the race. He's an Uncle Mo just like Nyquist.
Potential For Biggest Underlay:  Collected, 20/1

I'll be very surprised if Baffert's entry into the 2016 Preakness Stakes goes off at 20/1. He'll likely go off at less odds than Uncle Lino, which makes him an underlay in my eyes. Collected looked good winning the Lexington Stakes but I'm not sure he has the raw talent to beat horses like Nyquist and Stradivari. The Preakness cold be too much for him.

One of the interesting things about this Preakness Stakes is that Uncle Mo, Nyquist's sire, will be well represented. Uncle Mo sired Uncle Lino. He also sired Laoban. Nyquist, Uncle Lino and Laoban all like to either run on the front or press the pace. They're all gutsy horses as well. We'll see what happens on May 21. At this point, I'm thinking Stradivari keyed over Uncle Lino, Nyquist and Laoban. If I can get the Derby winner out of there, I should be golden.


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