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2016 Preakness Stakes Preview
- Updated: May 20, 2016
After Kentucky Derby favorite Nyquist etched out a narrow victory over a fiercely closing Exaggerator, we’re on to the second jewel of the Triple Crown; the Preakness Stakes.
A total run distance of 1 3/16 miles makes the Preakness a 1/16th of a mile shorter than the Kentucky Derby, and by sheer distance alone the “easiest” of the Triple Crown races. With a vastly reduced field, and a handful of the best horses removed from said field, it’s easy to see how this can be an easy leg. But, it’s still 1/16th of a mile more than most of these horses have ever run in their life.
Set in the beautiful 146-year-old Pimlico Race Course, located just 8 miles from the heart of downtown Baltimore, Maryland, the Preakness Stakes undergoes its 141st running.
The second of the three, and the shortest of them all, the Preakness Stakes is usually where you (very quickly) find out if a horse has the mettle to make a legitimate Triple Crown bid. In a trifecta of races that emphasizes distance, the length of the Preakness Stakes plays heavy favorites to the rested, and speedy horses. More often than not you’ll see borderline sprinters come open up such large opening distances that the best closers in the sport have zero chance to catch them.
This year’s field has 11 horses expected to run of the max 14, but there’s a small anomaly being that just three horses who ran the Derby are here to compete for the $1.5 million purse. It’ll be a fresh field, which never bodes well for exhausted Derby winners.
The weather is calling for rain, in fact, a 77% chance, with the peak of the wetness occurring early morning and extending into the afternoon. We’ll likely see rain throughout the day, so be sure to make note of that.
Owner: William Pacella, Frank L Jones Jr, & Frank Shoop
Trainer: Dale L Romans
Jockey: Corey J Lanerie
One year ago I wrote and correctly predicted a horse to show in the Preakness Stakes that has an almost uncanny similarity to the situation in which Cherry Wine finds itself in for the weekend. Tale of Verve was that horse, a 30-1 shot that blew all expectations out of the water to finish second (not all that close) in a sloppy 2015 Preakness. Since our website was wiped in October, that article no longer exists in a physical form on the internet, here is what I had to say:
Despite two scratches in the Kentucky Derby, Tale of Verve just narrowly missed its opportunity to run as El Kabeir announced its withdrawal past the cutoff point. Feeling down about missing out on the action, Charles Fipke does the smart thing and enters his horse into a field aching for horses and plenty of chance to finish in the money. After missing out on the Derby, Tale of Verve ran a decent workout still in Churchill at 5 furlongs in 1:00.40, which is a decent pace for the length… In a tired field with plenty of room to work with, anything could happen. Joel Rosario has the one winning mount on this horse, and it came at this exact same (unique might I add) distance at Keeneland in its last race. Tale of Verve won’t be wowing many over, but considering its late kick and exhausted field, I will be very intrigued to “let it ride” on this horse who has never even entered a stakes race. I’ve got the bad hip feeling that this horse will finish in the top three, and for those of those who regularly follow my articles, my bad hip rarely disappoints.
If you read my Kentucky Derby preview, you’re well aware that of the two possible alternates Cherry Wine was my nod for a horse to make some noise. Unlike Tale of Verve, Cherry Wine does have some stakes race experience. He finished third in the Blue Grass Stakes where –like Tale of Verve– his late kick propelled him from 11th to finish third, 1 3/4 lengths off the winner, Brody’s Cause. You might look at that and recall Brody’s Cause finished the Kentucky Derby 7th, 9 1/4 lengths back and think that none of that adds up to making this horse worth a bet. The pace it ran in the Blue Grass was very competitive to that in which we’ll likely see the winners come across. This horse certainly won’t finish outside the top half of this field.
For nostalgic reasons (and that hip twinge) I’ll throw a small wager involving a surprise Cherry Wine appearance, but overall I strongly feel as if this horse won’t be finishing in the top three.
Owner: Tom Manso, Purple Shamrock Racing, & Gary Sherlock
Trainer: Gary Sherlock
Jockey: Fernando H Perez
Uncle Lino spells trouble as an early pace-setter. This colt looked poised to stay atop the Santa Anita Derby, only to utterly get dismantled in the final stretch. He finished a respectable third, but a whopping 8 lengths back from the big time closer Exaggerator.
It’ll be wet again, and all indicators point to a similar appearance to what we saw at Santa Anita. So don’t expect much more than what you’ve seen. Early pace, late MIA from the action.
Owner: Reddam Racing, LLC
Trainer: Doug F O’Neil
Jockey: Mario Guiterrez
Nyquist made easy work of a relatively underwhelming Kentucky Derby field, winning by a little over 1 1/4 lengths. We’re still very much eager to see if this horse can handle the daunting 1.5 miles awaiting it at Belmont (should it run), but for now, as long as its rest and transition to Pimlico have gone well, should look to stay undefeated. The Derby winner has gone on to win 21 of the last 50 attempts, with 19 wins coming since 1996 alone. Nyquist also breaks from a post that has seen plenty of success. California Chrome was the last winner from the 3 post, and it’s also where Secretariat broke in its record-breaking run. Eight winners have come from the 3 post since 1966.
All eyes are on Nyquist in this one, and if you’re feeling like he’s your winner, you’ll need to somehow find that gem of a pairing to actually make some money on betting him.
Owner: Colts Neck Stables, LLC
Trainer: Alan E Goldberg
Jockey: Jevian Toldeo
Winner of the Frederico Tesio Stakes by way of DQ, Awesome Speed enters the Preakness field as a bit of an enigma. With four wins to its name, and two in its last three races –despite bumps in all three– Awesome Speed appears to be up to speed to handle the pace this race should see. The question is can it balance the speed and distance?
This horse has been working up to tackling this race. Starting off as a 5 1/2 furlong sprinter, Awesome Speed’s rate didn’t quite live up to the expectations, but gradually increasing the length, Alan Goldberg has found that he’s got a distance runner on his hands.
Jevian Toldeo gets his second mount, coming off that Tesio Stakes victory. In another field, this horse probably has the chance to look respectable. But next to the competition on Saturday, will be left underwhelming.
Owner: Big Chief Racing LLC, Head of Plains Partners LLC, Rocker O Ranch LLC
Trainer: Keith J Desormeaux
Jockey: Kent J Desormeaux
Exaggerator bettors are calling for a torrential downpour having seen this horse’s gutsy win in a sloppy Santa Anita Derby. Most of these horses have seen the rain, but the way this horse bit down and sailed past the pack in the heat of the storm was something to admire. Although it was not enough to downgrade the track in the Kentucky Derby, Exaggerator again proved its worth by surpassing the field in the waning moments of the race after a brief rain. The big question for this horse –who’s now raced Nyquist four times and lost all four– is if it can find an early enough drive to finally dispatch its foe.
All it takes is one race – just one single slip up – to power away to victory. I was actually hoping for Exaggerator to sit out of the Preakness, only to come dash hopes in the Belmont. Get this horse an extra 2 furlongs, and it might have had a shot to catch and pass Nyquist.
The Desormeaux brothers make the quick turn around and hope for that one shot to strike in Maryland. Don’t be alarmed, but there were reports of the two conducting a traditional rain dance in the stable earlier this week. Will an all out mudfest be enough to propel the pair to victory? It’s their best chance yet.
Owner: Koji Maeda
Trainer: Mikio Matsunaga
Jockey: Yutaka Take
Unlike many of the international superstars who try the Derby only to fail and bounce out-of-town, Lani is here for the long haul. Immediately after the Kentucky Derby, Koji Maeda took his horse up to Belmont Park where he’s been training in preparation to run both the Preakness and Belmont.
All reports from the Maeda stables are that Lani has been much more well-behaved ahead of the Preakness, but we’ll see how yet another stable move impacts his temperament.
This horse has the talent and class to blow out this entire field, and it just seems to be a matter of getting this horse to properly tune in. A 9th place finish in Kentucky was less than ideal for the UAE Derby winner, but Lani has a serious chance to make some noise in this field.
After breaking awfully in Louisville, Lani worked behind the pack uncomfortably, before working out to as wide as eight horses off the rail. It looked like it had a little bit of late life making some moves in the final stretch, but whether he was passing wiped out horses or that kick was a bona fide reason to have hope is tough to tell.
It Lani can break better, not have so much ground to cover, and avoid having to move so far out wide to have a line, there is reason to believe this horse has the chance to crack the money.
Owner: Speedway Stable, LLC
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Jockey: Javier Castellano
Bob Baffert currently sits tied for second in Preakness wins with six, and he hopes flying in a bit under the radar, Collected can send him to the top, tying R Wyndham Walden with seven.
The only time Collected has withstood the rain was back in February, where its sole non-top three finish at the Southwest Stakes mares its otherwise impeccable resume of races.
Javier Castellano gets his second mount atop this horse, as the two connected for a win in the Lexington Stakes in April.
I think this horse would have been something to keep an eye on come race day, had it winked to ya in the paddock it might have even been worth some betting. But factoring in the rain, I’ll relegate this horse to remain right in the middle of the pack.
Owner: McCormick Racing, LLC & Southern Equine Stable, LLC
Trainer: Eric J Guillot
Jockey: Florent Geroux
Laoban led for much of the Blue Grass Stakes before making a disappearing act that’d make Siegfreid and Roy proud. This horse, despite “qualifying” as an alternate for the Derby, would have been absolutely outclassed, and will be so here.
Laoban could be the early pace-setter, and if it is it’d be one I would be in no hurry to quickly follow. This horse will tire at the distance in comparison to some of the better horses in this field.
Laoban will be running sans blinkers for the first time since November of last year. Perhaps hoping that should it hold a winnable pace, it doesn’t get complacent in the stretch unaware of those screaming along its would have been blind spots.
This horse has had some real solid workouts over the last month, however. I’ve got this horse running for last when it’s all said and done, but if there is one horse I pick my training research up and go, “huh, should have seen that coming a bit more” after a surprise finish in the rain, it’ll probably be Laoban.
Owner: Stonehedge, LLC
Trainer: Edward T Allard
Jockey: J D Acosta
Abiding Star is riding quite a hot streak here in 2016. He’s a perfect five-for-five thus far this year, but has yet to be tested by any impressive fields. Edward Allard took over training back in October and has seemingly done wonders in tapping into the potential of this shooting star.
Breaking next to Laoban should mean these two horses get up and going early in this race. Which will force the rest of the field to give a hearty chase. Like the other pace-setters in this race, I’m not quite feeling it. I think after a brisk start, Abiding Start will join Laoban in the back.
Owner: Jacks or Better Farm, Inc.
Trainer: Mark E Casse
Jockey: Jose Lezcano
Fellowship has seen plenty of stakes action but has never quite stood up to the test. With just a singular win under a belt of extensive races –perhaps the most experienced horse in the race– Fellowship has always been the groomsman and seldom the man of the hour.
Fellowship ran 3rd in the Florida Derby behind Nyquist, and while it passed horses in the expiring feet of the race, it didn’t actually make up any ground on the eventual winner. Finishing 4 lengths back doesn’t sound like anything that should be too concerning, but in a field that’s gonna set a scary pace early, that number could turn into double digits this time around.
Owner: John D Gunther, Mich B Tabor, Derrick Smith, & Mrs. John Magnier
Trainer: Todd A Pletcher
Jockey: John R Velazquez
Stardivari might just have three races to its name, but they’ve come in impressive fashion, albeit in nothing more than allowance level races. In its last outing, Stradivari blew out the competition by an astounding 14 1/2 lengths. If the length doesn’t impress, allow this to; he ran that race (1 1/8 mile) in 1:48.64. To put that into perspective, Nyquist ran a dampened Florida Derby (1 1/8 mile) in 1:49.11.
Todd Pletcher rarely enters horses into the Preakness (Stardivari will be his 8th start) and his latest edition’s intrigue alone was enough to turn heads, but the seldom seen trainer making a Preakness appearance always keeps interests piqued.
Unless nerves, or quick early pace get to this largely inexperienced horse, it’s easy to see why so many like what they see from Pletcher’s hopeful. I’m counting on a finish in the money.
- Cherry Wine
- Awesome Speed
- Uncle Lino
- Abiding Star
10 cent superfecta box
and why not a pair of $2 extactas
Also, be sure to follow me on Twitter and check out my other predictions throughout race day at Pimlico.
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