Ranking the Preakness competition for Nyquist

Profile Picture: James Scully

May 17th, 2016

Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist has a lot going for him entering the Preakness, but anything can happen in horse racing. He’s facing a short two-week turnaround at Pimlico and uncertain track conditions, with rain expected Saturday.

It’s difficult to be concerned about the weather given how well Nyquist has handled wet conditions previously. The 2yo champ takes his track with him, winning at five different ovals while compiling an 8-for-8 record, so the new venue shouldn’t worry supporters.

Derby winners tend to hold their form two weeks later, with 10 of the last 19 coming back to win the Preakness, and Nyquist will be odds-on to follow suit. The 1 ½-mile Belmont Stakes three weeks later often plays the role of Triple Crown spoiler.

Ten challengers appear likely, with Preakness post positions to be drawn Wednesday. The rest may be running for second if Nyquist if shows up with his best, but let’s scout the competition in the event he fails to deliver his ‘A’ game:


Exaggerator offered a tremendous rally for second in the Kentucky Derby and is clearly the second-best 3yo in the training presently, registering century-topping BRIS Speed ratings in the last five starts. The Curlin colt showed his affinity for a sloppy track in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) and you can sense his odds dropping due to the advanced weather forecast, with a sizable gap between him and the third choice similar to the Derby. Exaggerator’s one-run closing style benefits from the presence of added speed -- Abiding Star, Collected, Laoban, Stradivari and Uncle Lino -- to the Preakness line-up.


Stradivari will make his stakes debut following a pair of convincing wins, breaking his maiden by 11 lengths at Gulfstream before posting a 14-length allowance romp at Keeneland. The Todd Pletcher trainee registered an excellent 101 BRIS Speed rating for the latter and he figures to take to a sloppy track as a son of Medaglia d’Oro. Stradivari will be tested for class, but the exciting colt could be any kind.

Cherry Wine gained valuable seasoning in his first two stakes attempts, finishing a troubled fourth in the Rebel (G2) before a rallying third in the Blue Grass (G1), and missing the Kentucky Derby due to insufficient points may turn out to be a blessing – his late-running style probably wasn’t going to be effective at Churchill Downs. The gray colt broke his maiden by 9 ¼ lengths over a sloppy track and will try to make an impact from off the pace Saturday.

The connections of Uncle Lino wisely elected to bypass the Derby following a well-beaten third in the Santa Anita Derby and the Uncle Mo colt recorded an excellent Preakness tune-up when capturing the April 30 California Chrome in wire-to-wire fashion at Los Alamitos. After repulsing a stiff challenge in upper stretch, Uncle Lino won going away under the wire last time and posted a field-best 109 BRIS Speed rating. The Gary Sherlock trainee could have more to offer.


Lani will be running late and surprised many observers when finishing up well for ninth in the Kentucky Derby. The Japanese-based colt will attempt to capitalize upon that performance and is one to consider for the bottom of the exotics given the projected pace scenario.

Collected exits a pair of convincing stakes wins over lesser rivals and has run poorly only once in six career starts. His recent Speed ratings are commendable and Bob Baffert is the all-time leading Preakness trainer with six wins. Longer distances remain a legitimate concern for the middle-distance specialist but it’s easy to like how Collected is coming into the race.

Awesome Speed has won four of his last five starts, including the April 9 Federico Tesio at Laurel via disqualification. The dark bay colt appears to favor longer distances and while he’ll need to keep stepping things up from a class perspective, Awesome Speed has the look of an improving horse.


Fellowship’s late-running style could play favorably for the bottom of the exotics, but the Florida-bred hasn’t been a serious factor in a long time and appears too slow to make much of an impact.

Laoban had everything his own way on the front end of the Blue Grass before retreating to fourth and the maiden figures to have trouble working out a favorable trip in a speed-laden Preakness.

Abiding Star will bring speed and a five-race win streak from his Parx base but the former claimer appears overmatched at this level.