Nyquist, ridden by Mario Gutierrez, wins the 142nd Kentucky Derby in Louisville, Kentucky. May 7, 2016. Photo by Mark Abraham/UPI | License Photo
For two weeks, Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist has been biding his time at Pimlico Race Course, indifferent to the hype surrounding him. When it comes time for the Preakness Stakes to begin on Saturday, it would be best for the rest of the field to get out of his way as he continues his quest for the Triple Crown.
"He's a powerful animal that's waiting to let go," Nyquist"s jockey Mario Gutierrez said. "He loves the competition."
Nyquist, the 3-5 favorite, is undefeated in eight starts and is looking to become the fourth Derby winner in the past five years to also win the Preakness. He will run against 10 other horses in the $1.5 million Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown, breaking from the No. 3 post position.
Despite the competition, shorter track and rain in the forecast, Nyquist trainer Doug O'Neill said he will stick to the same that has brought them so much success. Nyquist is trying to become the third consecutive horse from Southern California to capture the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, joining last year's Triple Crown winner American Pharoah and California Chrome.
"I think we're going to leave there running and just kind of play it by ear," O'Neill said. "If they're not showing a lot of pace, we're going to make it. If it's hot and heavy, Mario has shown and Nyquist has shown that they can sit off a hot and heavy pace. It's numbing. I think for all of the team, it's just living a dream to be 3-5. To be 8-for-8 going into the Preakness, to be 3-5, it's such an honor and such a privilege."
Exaggerator, who finished second at the Kentucky Derby, appears to be the biggest threat to Nyquist and has the second-best odds at the Preakness (3-1). Exaggerator is breaking from the No. 5 post.
However, Exaggerator has lost all four of his races against Nyquist.
"It doesn't matter. With our (closing) running style it's inconsequential. He's going to take back or get him to relax right out of the gate, so it really doesn't matter -- 1 hole, 11 hole, 5 hole," Trainer Keith Desormeaux said. "Being that Nyquist is speed-oriented, he'll probably get pressed from the outside, which may make him go a little bit faster. I guess that's tactically advantageous to us."
Another horse to watch is Stradivari, who is the third choice at 8-1. Stradivari did not run in the Kentucky Derby, but he has dominated his past two starts. He will break from Post 11.
"You've got a good run to the turn so you never feel like anyone's as concerned with the post positions at the Preakness as they are at the Derby, especially when there doesn't appear to be one like the dreaded 1 post at Churchill," Trainer Todd Pletcher. "I'm happy with it."
The 2016 Preakness Field:
1. Cherry Wine, Odds: 20-1.
2. Uncle Lino, Odds: 20-1.
3. Nyquist, Odds: 3-5.
4. Awesome Speed, Odds: 30-1.
5. Exaggerator, Odds: 3-1.
6. Lani, Odds: 30-1.
7. Collected, Odds: 30-1.
9. Abiding Star, Odds: 30-1.
10. Fellowship, Odds: 30-1.
11. Stradivari, Odds: 8-1