Though no one has questioned his pedigree and talent, rain and an expected sloppy track were technically viewed as detriments to Nyquist’s attempt to win the 141st Preakness Stakes Saturday at Pimlico in Baltimore.
Instead, the betting public has only doubled-down on the 3-year-old colt by Uncle Mo and Kentucky Derby winner and upped his odds from a 3/5 morning-line to 4/5 just hours before the race.
Rain has fallen on Pimlico all morning and will continue to do so until throughout most of the afternoon and right up until the 6:45 p.m. ET post time, according to AccuWeather.com, and often times bettors are scared off when the weather report is less than favorable to the leading contender.
It's going to be a sloppy day at Pimlico. pic.twitter.com/Vrsh6WvZKe
— Todd Karpovich (@toddkarpovich) May 21, 2016
Nyquist has run on wet tracks before, including at the Derby two weeks ago, but he’s yet to truly trudge through the slop in his undefeated, eight-race career.
Still Nyquist, trained by one-time Preakness winner Doug O’Neill and ridden by jockey Mario Gutierrez, sits well ahead of the 11-deep stakes field as he seeks capture the second jewel of the Triple Crown. He’ll fire out of the No. 3 stall, flanked by two longshots in 40/1 Uncle Lino at No. 2 and 45/1 Awesome Speed at No. 4.
But over at stall No. 5, Exaggerator continues to reign as Nyquist’s biggest challenge. The son of two-time Horse of the Year Curlin and student of Keith Desormeaux has claimed three victories under muddy conditions, including the prized Santa Anita Derby (Grade 1).
His experience, and the estimations of the betting public, have improved Exaggerator’s chances from a 3/1 morning-line after Wednesday’s post draw to now 9/5 as the race nears.
But this year’s Preakness isn’t strictly a two-horse race. After Nyquist and Exaggerator, trainer Bob Baffert’s 13/1 Collected and Todd Pletcher’s 7/1 Stradivari may have a major impact on the race.
Coming out of the No. 7 gate, Collected owns four victories over this six race career and has never finished lower than fourth. Baffert, who claimed the Triple Crown last year with American Pharoah, sent Collected out for a win most recently at the Lexington Stakes (G3) on April 16 and since then the City Zip colt’s rested comfortable after skipping the Derby.
Stradivari will participate in his first stakes race and has won his last two starts by 25 3/4 lengths, slightly bolstering his odds from 8/1 to 7/1. Though Pletcher told Newsday that beating Nyquist will be difficult for his and every other contender.
“We think he’s a very good horse who deserves a chance, but it’s not like I found a cozy little allowance race,” Pletcher said. “It’s a classic race, running against an undefeated 2-year-old champion. This is not a cupcake spot by any means.”
Posts and Latest Odds For 2016 Preakness Stakes
No. 1 Cherry Wine 21/1
No. 2 Uncle Lino 40/1
No. 3 Nyquist 4/5
No. 4 Awesome Speed 45/1
No. 5 Exaggerator 9/5
No. 6 Lani 25/1
No. 7 Collected 13/1
No. 8 Laoban 60/1
No. 9 Abiding Star 30/1
No. 10 Fellowship 50/1
No. 11 Stradivari 7/1
Prediction: Stradivari by less than 2 lengths, followed by Exaggerator in second, and Nyquist in third.