Post 3 does Nyquist no favors

Profile Picture: James Scully

May 19th, 2016

Nyquist rated as far back as eighth during the early stages of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), traveling widest on both turns before rallying to seize control by the top of the stretch. He’s towered over divisional rivals throughout his career, but post 3 adds an interesting wrinkle to Saturday’s Preakness bid.

Outside posts don’t perform well in dirt routes at Pimlico but the 1 3/16-mile Preakness features a long run to the first turn. And given the presence of five other speed horses, Nyquist’s connections would’ve preferred to be outside, losing ground until striking from just off the pace.

The strategy worked to perfection as Nyquist broke widest of all in the 14-horse Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and the unbeaten 2yo champion benefited from post 13 in the Kentucky Derby, remaining well off the rail under a patient ride before striding clear in the latter stages.

Nyquis has speed on both sides in the Preakness starting gate, with Uncle Lino sure to send from post 2 following a wire-to-wire tally in the recent California Chrome. Awesome Speed’s only chance is on the front end from post 4. Nyquist may have to navigate his way through confirmed front-runners Collected (post 7), Laoban (8) and Abiding Star (9) to get outside by the first turn.

I’m not expecting him on the early lead or to be saving ground behind horses during the opening stages. Mario Gutierrez knows he’s on the best horse and his main concern is to avoid trouble. He doesn’t want to get embroiled in a pace duel or wind up taking a lot of kickback on a wet track. Ideally, Nyquist will break running before being angled wide into the first turn to sit just off the pace.

My colleague Vance Hanson doesn’t think the inside post is a big deal and I’ll concede Nyquist is eligible to overcome adverse circumstances, but post 3 makes matters a little more complicated in a speed-laden Preakness field.