Heavy showers will muddy the 141st Preakness Stakes on Saturday, according to multiple weather reports, and presents a new wrinkle to morning-line favorite Nyquist (3/5) and his pursuit of the second jewel of the Triple Crown.
The 3-year-old Uncle Mo colt drew the No. 3 post during Wednesday night’s post draw, which only strengthened his favorite status at Pimlico, but the projected forecast could present an opportunity for other contenders to derail Nyquist’s shot at horse racing’s greatest title.
There is an 80 percent chance of precipitation in Baltimore for Saturday, according to the National Weather Service. AccuWeather.com forecasts occasional rain and some heavy rain throughout Saturday. The 1 3/16-mile Preakness has a scheduled post time of 6:45 p.m. with a $1.5 million purse and horse racing glory on the line.
Nyquist won the Florida Derby in April over a wet track which was officially deemed "good" and won the Kentucky Derby on a track that received rain 90 minutes prior to the start.
“I don’t think it’ll affect him in a negative way,” Nyquist's trainer Doug O’Neill told Daily Racing Form. “You got to be sure-footed to do what he’s done at all the different tracks. We got a wet track there at Gulfstream. That didn’t seem to affect him in a negative way, so I don't see it as a negative.
“Rain or shine, as long as he’s doing well we got a real good chance.”
The Preakness was run on a sloppy track last year for the first time since 1983, but it didn't seem to bother American Pharoah, who won by seven lengths. Meanwhile, there was a record crowd of 131,680.
The rain on Saturday may still open the door for some of the 10 other Preakness contenders who possess tremendous speed out of the gate or down the stretch. Namely, Exaggerator, who’s now listed at 3-1 odds, and only fell to Nyquist by 1 1/4 lengths at the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago.
Keith Desormeaux, conditioner of Exaggerator, told Daily Racing Form that he doesn't think Exaggerator will be at an advantage due to the rain.
Son of Curlin, Exaggerator claimed the Santa Anita Derby (Grade 1) under sloppy conditions on April 9, as well as the $1,000,000 Delta downs Jackpot Stakes (G3) when he was a 2-year-old in November, on top of a runner-up finish at the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1) in August.
Couple the conditions with several new contenders, who didn’t race at Churchill Downs, like 8/1 Stradivari, 10/1 Collected, and 20/1 Uncle Lino, and some challenges are lurking for Nyquist’s connections.
Post Positions and Morning Line Odds
No. 1 Cherry Wine 20/1
No. 2 Uncle Lino 20/1
No. 3 Nyquist 3/5
No. 4 Awesome Speed 30/1
No. 5 Exaggerator 3/1
No. 6 Lani 30/1
No. 7 Collected 10/1
No. 8 Laoban 30/1
No. 9 Abiding Star 30/1
No. 10 Fellowship 30/1
No. 11 Stradivari 8/1