#3 Nyquist – He impressed us so much it the Kentucky Derby! Event though we picked him to win the race, we didn’t necessarily think he was a great horse. That has changed now as there is little doubt he’s better than we gave him credit for going in the Derby. There is no question leading up to the race that he’s thriving right now. Everyone is raving about how he has been doing since arriving at Pimlico, and really there is no reason to believe any of these can defeat him. He’ll have to run an off race to get beat, even if it does rain like the forecast predicts. Believe he’ll sit off the speed much like the Kentucky Derby, and get first jump on his main competition. We should be heading to Belmont with the Triple Crown on the line once again.
#5 Exaggerator – There is no doubt in my mind he is the only horse with enought talent to beat Nyquist, but why should we believe that he can do it this time? He’s failed to defeat him in all four tries he’s had so far, and the Kentucky Derby runner up had not won the Preakness Stakes since 1993. So history is definitely not on his side leading up to this race, but the one thing that is on his side is the weather forecast. Heavy rains are predicted to fall on Pimlico Race Course all day Saturday, and if that happens he’ll likely catch a track similar to his Santa Anita Derby romp. Many believe he is a slop monster. I don’t necessarily see that to be the case, but I do believe the sloppy track is an unknown for Nyquist which could turn the tables in Exaggerator’s favor. However, if it does rain hard Exaggerator’s value will be diminished, which might make the Kentucky Derby champ Nyquist that much more appealing.
#1 Cherry Wine – With what is sure to be a fast pace up front, and also a forecast of rain…Cherry Wine looks more and more appealing by the second. Do I believe Cherry Wine can be any threat whatsoever to the top two? No not a chance! Do I think he can help your trifecta and superfecta payouts? Yes giddy up! He’ll come with his late run…he always does…and he should be faster than the rest of the late closers. If the speed sets up like we think its going to then he becomes logical for third.
#7 Collected – Maybe I’ve got him a little overrated, but he just strikes me as a Baffert horse that is improving with every race. Since his flop in the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park he’s come back to win two stakes races in a row, and both of them have been nice enough efforts to believe he could hang on for a piece of things in this race. I have no thoughts of him winning, but he wouldn’t be a bad underneath play.
#11 Stradivari – What can you really say or do with him? He’s ran only one time this year in an allowance race at Keeneland that was fairly weak, but he looked fantastic winning by an eye popping fourteen lengths. That gave him two huge victories in a row, and certainly does give you hope that he can make an impact here. Also, this is abnormal for Pletcher to send a horse directly to the Preakness Stakes off an allowance win as I assumed he would point for the more reasonable option of the Peter Pan Stakes last weekend. So obviously he has a lot of confidence in this horse, but can you really bet him to beat Nyquist and Exaggerator when he’s only ran one time in 2016? He’s also never ran in a stakes race…I sure can’t back him but he’s a wild card.
#10 Fellowship – Never been a fan of him at this level. Believe he could end up being a serviceable horse down the road, but he’s probably not fast enough to compete with these.
#2 Uncle Lino – There is some quiet hype with him coming into this race, but I’m not buying it. I think he’s a fine horse, but might end up being better going a little shorter than what he’ll be asked to do today. Plus the pace has a chance to be hot in this one, and that isn’t going to do him many favors.
#6 Lani – I LOVE that he’s in this race! The most interesting horse in the world makes his way to Baltimore after giving the media in Kentucky plenty to talk about. Laugh at him all you want (I don’t blame you) but he didn’t run too bad in the Kentucky Derby. Not well enough for me to trust him, but not bad considering all his antics. Looking forward to seeing what he pulls this time.
#4 Awesome Speed – This one did interest me a little bit as he ran right with Governor Malibu last time out, and Governor Malibu came back to finish second in the Peter Pan Stakes last weekend. From a class standpoint though this seems to be a tall order. Have to like other longshots a bit more.
#8 Laoban – He’s still a maiden and yet he’s still on the Triple Crown trail! I’ve called him America’s favorite maiden for months now, and when this race is over he’ll still likely be America’s favorite maiden.
#9 Abiding Star – Comes into this race on a five race win streak…but has ever faced anything close to this caliber. Plus he’s also never had a race over 1 1/16th miles so this will be a tall order. Most likely will be overwhelmed.
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