I can’t recall the last time a Kentucky Derby winner wasn’t the betting favorite for the Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown. And that’s not a worry for next Saturday’s 141st running of the Preakness at Pimlico in Baltimore as Derby winner Nyquist, still unbeaten in his young career, is a -140 favorite on our online racebook.
A Look at Nyquist Openining As Betting Favorite on 2016 Preakness Odds
Nyquist, undefeated in eight starts, won the May 7 Kentucky Derby and shipped to Maryland two days later. He was to make his first visit to Pimlico on Wednesday. Nyquist is trained by Doug O’Neill, and Nyquist and six other O’Neill runners are stabled in the same barn the trainer used in 2012, when Reddam Racing’s Kentucky Derby winner I’ll Have Another won the Preakness. Nyquist will continue to alternate days of galloping and jogging and likely won’t run a timed breeze ahead of the Preakness.
There’s no question Nyquist was impressive at the Derby. The leaders ran first quarter-mile in 22 seconds and change and the half-mile in 45 seconds and change. Those are fast numbers. Nyquist raced just off that pace so he was just a fraction slower, and still had enough to finish. While he ran the last quarter-mile in 26:14 seconds versus second-place Exaggerator’s 24:98, past the wire Exaggerator never got by Nyquist in the gallop out. Nyquist walked to the starting gate as a 2-1 Derby favorite still surrounded by plenty of doubts. Statistically-oriented handicappers said he had not demonstrated enough high-end speed in his prep races. Many of them picked Exaggerator, the 5-1 second choice, to beat him. Nyquist has now won major races on five different tracks in three different states.
With Nyquist, owner Paul Reddam has had a star from the start – and presents the chance to settle unfinished business. Four years ago, I’ll Have Another was a long shot at the Kentucky Derby and Mario Gutierrez was an unknown jockey. The horse and rider, backed by O’Neill and the Canadian-raised Reddam, won in Kentucky and then won the Preakness, too. But I’ll Have Another was scratched from the Belmont because of injury a day before the race, ending the Triple Crown pursuit.
Exaggerator is the +450 second-favorite for the Preakness. Exaggerator may have caught Nyquist in the Kentucky Derby if it weren’t for some traffic halfway through the 142nd running of the Run for the Roses, his jockey, Kent Desormeaux, said after his horse’s runner-up finish. At the end, Exaggerator, the Santa Anita Derby winner, was charging hard from off the pace, but came up 1 1/4 lengths short to Nyquist.
The longest shot for the race is Sharp Azteca at +4500 — that’s if he even runs. Sharp Azteca won the Pat Day Mile at Churchill Downs on the Derby undercard, pulling away pulled away in a time of 1:34.37 on a track rated fast. Trained by Jorge Navarro and ridden by Edgard Zayas, Sharp Azteca shipped to Kentucky off of back-to-back wins in maiden and allowance company, both times at the one-turn-mile distance, at Gulfstream Park. Navarro has said he might skip the Preakness and Belmont in order to target the Haskell Invitational in late July for his horse.