Preakness odds questions: How low for Nyquist, Exaggerator and who's 3rd choice?

Profile Picture: Ed DeRosa

May 20th, 2016

Tabbing Nyquist and Exaggerator as the favorite and second choice, respectively, in both the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands and the Preakness Stakes is the easy part.

Navigating what price they will actually be and what that does to the rest of the board is the hard part, as evidenced by their Kentucky Derby prices of 2.3-to-1 on undefeated champion Nyquist and 5.1-to-1 on his foil Exaggerator.

Together they made up about 38% of the win pool, which is significantly more than the 30% I thought they would take or the 27% Churchill Downs morning line odds maker Mike Battaglia thought they would take.

By virtue of their performances in Louisville and a shorter field in Baltimore they’ll take even more money, of course, but how much more?

Based on his morning line, Keith Fustle expects the public to put about two-thirds of its win money on either Nyquist or Exaggerator. I’m even more bullish on the crowd’s zest for Kentucky Derby success in the Preakness and tab the support at 70%.

A key difference between our two lines is that the track morning line has Nyquist at 3-to-5 and Exaggerator at 3-to-1 while I have them at 4-to-5 and 5-to-2, respectively.

The shift on my line means higher prices elsewhere, which can be a bold prediction in these types of races that always seem to present extreme cases of the favorite-longshot bias. E.g. the fair odds on several of these horses is in the 100-to-1 range, but there won’t be a single starter go off at more than half that.

Judging by the track line, I’m guessing there are orders not to make any entry more than 30-to-1. We don’t have such constraints and as such made maiden Laoban and Parx shipper Abiding Star both 50-to-1. Fellowship at 40- and Awesome Speed at 35-to-1 are also higher on our line than they are on the track’s 30-to-1 line.

The toughest question in the deep end of the pool is who will be third choice. Keith and I agree on Stradivari at 8- and 10-to-1, respectively, but Collected will be close, especially considering the Bob Baffert at Pimlico factor.

Now that we’ve handicapped the handicappers, how do we actually handicap and bet the race? Well, that’s a separate post coming Friday afternoon, but my fair odds line column gives clues to my approach. Basically I’d like to see some longshots (that I use) come in the Pick 4 and be live to either Nyquist and Exaggerator. Then I’ll protect with Uncle Lino and Lani in the Preakness race itself. The Black-Eyed Susan and Dixie Stakes both start doubles into the Preakness, and that could provide opportunity as well to “lock in” a decent score with the longer shots.