Any way you look at it, Nyquist (3-5 morning line) is the deserving heavy favorite for the Preakness. He took the Kentucky Derby in convincing style to up his unbeaten career record to eight wins. He has the tactical speed to settle off what should be a quick pace. And he should handle the track, given that he handled a soft Gulfsteam surface to win the Florida Derby. Exaggerator (3-1), meanwhile, is clearly the best of the rest. He won big over a sloppy Santa Anita course two races back, and after spotting the leaders double-digit lengths early, he closed like a freight train on Nyquist in the Derby. He's lost to Nyquist four times, but here's something interesting - he's a son of Curlin, who ran third as the second choice in the betting behind Street Sense in the 2007 Kentucky Derby. Curlin then turned the tables in the Preakness, coming from 13-lengths back to nip Street Sense at the wire, the only come-from-way-back winner of the race in the past 10 years. So there's that.
Talented Stradivari comes with question marks
In what looks to be a race for trifecta and superfecta betting, it makes sense to look for one horse that will be running near the front, and one that will be coming from the back. Historically the Preakness winner has done so running on or near the lead, and given the conditions and lots of early speed, it should set up well for at least one other closer besides Exaggerator. There has been a lot of talk all week of Stradivari (8-1), who won his last two by a combined 25 lengths, in times as fast as any here have run. He's taking a big step up in class, however, in only his fourth lifetime start, and he'll be breaking from the outside #11 post. With so many other speed horses wanting the lead inside of him, he's as likely to get fanned way wide on the first turn as be leading the pack. There are a lot of unknowns with this colt, especially considering the fact he'll likely be bet even further down from the ML price come racetime.
Collected and Cherry Wine need to get the right trip
Collected (10-1), on the other hand, breaks from the perfect #7 spot. His running stye is similar to Nyquist, as he's best sitting just off the lead. With a decent break he should be able to get to where he wants, and perhaps even be in position to keep Nyquist behind horses and down closer to the fence, exactly where the favorite doesn't want to be. Collected hasn't won at the Grade 1 level and it's a question how he'll like an off track. But he does have graded stakes wins, and if he handles the footing should be in the mix turning for home. As a deep closer, Cherry Wine (20-1) has yet to win above the allowance level, but he was third most recently in the (G1) Bluegrass, where he ran out of track and was beaten out of second by a head. Here he gets an extra 1/16th of a mile, and he already has a win on a sloppy track, two factors that should get him on the ticket.
OTB New York Picks (PP):
1) Nyquist (#3)
2) Exaggerator (#5)
3) Cherry Wine (#1)
4) Collected (#7)
Bet: 3/5, 5/3 over 1,7 - Trifecta
3/5, 5/3 over 1,7,11 - Superfecta
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