05/19/2016 1:01PM

A peek at the Preakness

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Let's take a horse-by-horse look at this year's Preakness Stakes.
 
1 - CHERRY WINE
After two impressive wins, Dale Romans lost time with Cherry Wine. He held him out of the Holy Bull, missed the Fountain of Youth with a temperature and subsequently failed to earn enough qualifying points two make the Derby field.
The late-running colt took advantage of a strong closing flow to finish third in the Blue Grass, has virtually no early speed and will probably be lagging far, far behind on the backstretch.
He has never taken a backward step on the Beyer Speed Figure scale and showed he handled wet going (a real possibility at Pimlico this year) with a sharp maiden win at Churchill Downs.
It appears he's rounding into form, but I think he's best played on the bottom of single-race exotics. 
 
2 - UNCLE LINO
Even if you're skeptical about the Uncle Mos going long (despite Nyquist's Kentucky Derby win, I still worry about their overall stamina), Uncle Lino has a ton of distance pedigree on the bottom of his family tree. The dam is a half-sister to Preakness winner Shackleford and is a full sibling to Alabama heroine Lady Joanne.
There are other horses with speed in this race, but Uncle Lino is the quality zip closest to the wood. Coming off a gate-to-wire score in the California Chrome Stakes three weeks ago, I think he'll make the pace under Fernando Perez.
He is an underrated, talented colt that can get a piece of this if allowed to set or press comfortable fractions.
 
3 - NYQUIST
Undefeated champion is the deserved "big dog" in the Preakness after his Derby score. He ran every hard every step of the way at Churchill, chasing fast fractions and staying on gamely to the end. He is way the horse to beat and certainly the most likely winner at a short price.
Expect Mario Gutierrez to break, get to the outside, and play off of horses like Uncle Lino and Abiding Star. Nyquist, like California Chrome and American Pharoah before him, is a Kentucky Derby winner with excellent tactical speed that can make his own trip. He should be right in the thick of things once again when the field turns for home.
The only concern, and it's slight, is that the hard race in the Derby took some starch out of him.
A must-use in any exotic wager. 
 
4 - AWESOME SPEED
Versatile colt owns wins at six furlongs and 1 1/8 miles, the latter when aided by the stewards in the Federico Tesio Stakes at Laurel.
He was flattered when Governor Malibu returned to run second last week in the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont.
He likes to be forwardly-placed in his races, but it's unlikely he has the gas to outfoot Uncle Lino, Nyquist and Abiding Star early.
His Beyer Speed Figures pale in comparison to those of the truly top contenders.
Others entice more to win.
 
5 - EXAGGERATOR
I picked him in the Derby and have no complaints with his performance. He was bottled up for just a hair while inside on the turn, but don't think it cost him the win.
It appears the once-versatile colt has been transformed into a one-run closer by trainer Keith Desormeaux. As is the case with such horses, he is always at the mercy of race and pace luck. He should get an honest pace to attack on Saturday and the prospect of a wet track enhances his chances.
He's simply a rock-solid horse that always fires his best shot. A logical contender.
 
6 - LANI
Didn't have the easiest trip in the Derby, but I don't think he was even getting a minor award with a clean run.
There is some talent and pedigree here, but he just doesn't have any early foot and there are horses in this race with similar running styles - Exaggerator comes to mind immediately - that have stronger immediate acceleration.
Grinder runs late, perhaps for a piece.
 
7 - COLLECTED
This is a really nice colt with excellent tactical speed, but he's had candy trips against suspect competition in his last two races. It's nice to see him enter this race after pairing up Beyer tops (often portends a forward move) and is certainly in the right hands with Bob Baffert steering the ship.
The reports are that he's working very well, but I think he's just a notch below the better 3-year-olds and he might want a slightly-shorter distance.
Questionable over a wet track, he's a horse that I can play in trifectas and supers.
 
8 - LAOBAN
Maiden removes blinkers for this and one wonders if that's a sign that the speedy maiden will be rated slightly off of the pace.
Thought he ran well in the Blue Grass after setting blistering fractions, but his best race to date, his golden rail-aided second in the Gotham, hasn't been flattered.
Suspect at the distance, but has the pedigree to appreciate a wet track.
Others seem more likely.
 
9 - ABIDING STAR
Enters the Preakness off five consecutive wins, two over wet tracks. He's the second-most prolific winner (5) in the field behind Nyquist and his recent Beyer Speed Figure (91 in the Parx Derby) is better than any number earned by Cherry Wine, Awesome Speed, Lani, Collected, Laoban and Fellowship.
He likes to hear his feet rattle and should be first or second when the field flashes past the stands the first time. Whether he can sustain that pace while being pressured by Uncle Lino and Nyquist is another story entirely.
Deserves a shot in the race, but don't think he'll last the distance.
 
10 - FELLOWSHIP
Gritty colt lacked the points to get into the Derby so new trainer Mark Casse opted to prep him in the Pat Day Mile instead. Don't think a one-turn route is his game and the Pat Day winner freaked out as well.
Fellowship will make his usual run, but I wonder if he's exposed after 12 starts.
He'll need to improve to win this.
 
11 - STRADIVARI
I picked him in the paper (not because he was my original MKB :)), but concede that he's in very, very steep.
Dominated two fields once stretched out around two turns, but they're still doing DNA tests to see if the vanquished from those races are truly of the thoroughbred breed. This is a major class test and he'll probably face a stronger pace than he's ever seen. That means he won't end up in the catbird trip that he received in his two blow-out wins.
After watching his races, however, you feel that there is great talent here and, with only three lifetime starts to his name, has potential for further improvement.
It's a tall ask to be sure, but I'm very curious as to whether he's Bernardini or Social Inclusion. I won't pay to find out at anything less than 12 to 1 on the tote.
 
My paper picks are Stradivari, Nyquist, Exaggerator and Uncle Lino. In Pick 4's, I use Nyquist and Exaggerator as A's and Stradivari as a 'B,' but I won't have too much money in against Nyquist. 
 
Best of luck!
 
 
I'm swamped this week as we prepare for our two-day DRF Live coverage. Top 25 Beyers will return next week and we'll catch up then. 
 
***
 
Hi Dan,
In the weekend Kentucky Derby wrap video.  Matt mentioned that Mike summarized after Nyquist's Kentucky Derby win that he is more accomplished than American Pharoah at this stage in the game.  Although Nyquist was a deserving winner of the Derby and 8 for 8;  American Pharoah did have a foot injury that prevented him from racing in the BC Juv.  Also, AP got 101 Beyer speed figures as a 2 YO  in the Del Mar Futurity and Frontrunner, while Nyquist Beyers for those same races were in the 80's. Nyquist Beyer in Florida D-94. AP in Arkansas D 105. AP had tougher competition in KD with Firing Line and Dortmond.  AP raced six times and Nyquist eight times.  And so AP lost his first race after disliking the blinker hood and being rattled with the noise in the paddock.  Blinkers off and cotton in ears-win streak. 
WilliamSLaForge
 
 
Thanks for watching the videos and many thanks for the note. I won't argue with Mike's claim that Nyquist is more accomplished at this point of his 3-year-old season than American Pharoah was heading into last year's Preakness. If you merely look at the record, you get this:
 
Nyquist:
8 starts, 8 wins 
2-year-old champion
Kentucky Derby winner
Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner
5-time Grade 1 winner
 
American Pharoah:
6 starts, 5 wins
2-year-old champion
Kentucky Derby winner
4-time Grade 1 winner
 
I'd agree that Nyquist has accomplished slightly more than American Pharoah. That doesn't mean that Nyquist is a better horse and I don't know anyone that is saying that's the case. Far from it. You mentioned the various issues that American Pharoah had during his 2-year-old campaign and his gaudy Beyer Speed Figures. Nyquist, even with all of his impressive feats, still has a ways to go before being compared with American Pharoah. 
 
***
 
 
Dan,
I have really enjoyed the DRF Live presentation. You, Mike Beer and Formblogging alum Matt Bernier have thrown out you sort of useful nuggets since the show's inception. 
You are welcome to use this as a question during your Preakness telecast....
This year's Derby finish was very unusual. The first four betting choices finished exactly in the order the public had predicted according to the odds. That might have happened before but not to my knowledge.
Anybody know with certainty if this has happened before in the long history of the Kentucky Derby?
Thanks,
~ Alfredo
 
I had to go back to Count Fleet's Kentucky Derby in 1943 to even find a field in which the top three betting choices ran 1-2-3. That year, Count Fleet was 2 to 5, runner-up Blue Swords was 9 to 1 and third-finisher Slide Rule was 10 to 1. Ten were entered.
 
***
 
Dan,
I thought I recognized Anchor Down as a horse I should remember....well, indeed, he was the horse who beat Myositis Dan at the 2014 Formblog convention.  Did you remember?
Cathy
 
I do remember because I bet Myositis Dan. Anchor Down was super-impressive that day (I believe Pletcher also had next-out Arkansas Derby winner Danza in that Gulfstream allowance race), but he came down with a serious injury that knocked him out of action for a long time. It was good to see him back in his best form, although one must wonder if he moved way up over the wet track. 
 
***
 
Video stakes analyses for many of the weekend's major stakes will be available later this week at http://www.drf.com/videos
 
 
You can follow me on Twitter @DRF_DanIllman.
 
Matt Bernier, Mike Beer and I will be on for free and fun live handicapping analysis at 2:30pm ET on Friday and 12:30pm ET on Saturday for Black-Eyed Susan and Preakness coverage. Please join us at live.drf.com.
 
***
 
Congrats to Gerry V for winning last week's HandiGambling challenge.
 
Rick M and SR VEGAS' HG scoreboard spreadsheet is available at the bottom of this blog post. 
 
The Preakness from Pimlico for this week's exercise. 
 
Please note that we will accept BLACK-EYED SUSAN/PREAKNESS DOUBLE WAGERS
 
FREE FORMULATOR PAST PERFORMANCES FOR THE BLACK-EYED SUSAN ARE AVAILABLE ON THE RACE OF THE DAY PAGE -  http://www.drf.com/race-of-the-day
 
PAST PERFORMANCES FOR THE PREAKNESS ARE AVAILABLE AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS BLOG POST.
 
SR Vegas and Rick M. have graciously decided to update all of the HG rules in order to make them an easier read for everyone...
 
 
HANDIGAMBLING version 2016:
 
Let's remember WHY we began the HandiGambling races in the first place.
The goal was to share ideas on why we like these horses and why we're betting them the way we are. We are not asking for a novel but SPARE A SENTENCE OR TWO outlining your HANDICAPPING ANGLES and/or THOUGHT PROCESSES about WAGERING.
 
1. Start your post with HG or HANDIGAMBLING to find your entry in a thread.
2. You have a mythical $100 to wager in whatever format you choose that is available for that HG race. Anyone going over the $100 limit will be DISQUALIFIED.
3. Post your WAGER and ANALYSIS to the blog prior to the start of the designated race. SIGN OFF WITH YOUR NAME/OR MONIKER AT THE END OF YOUR POST. Remember that posts may start as 'anonymous' or an 'alternate name'. You MUST SIGN YOURSELF AT THE END (even if it is the same) This enables the scorekeeper to identify who you are.
4. (1) ONE ENTRY per person for the Handigambling contest. If you have multiple email addresses, use just ONE for contest purposes. Multiple entries will be cause for disqualification.
5. Separate your analysis from the wager and use the PROGRAM # in your wager. Just like you would do in a real wager. No horse names.
6. If any of the rules listed above aren't met, the wager is subject to review which can lead to disqualification of your entry.
 
In the event of a tie, the earliest post gets first preference. Dan reserves the right to approve or deny any entries.
The winner will receive a "60-Card Quarterly Formulator Past Performance Plan"
 
As an example :
 
HG 2016
The speed in this race are #1 Alpha, #2 Beta, and #8 Ocho. I like the works for layoff horse #5 Cinco who can sit off the pace. Lots of speed in here, so this could set up for a closer like  #6 Six Flags and I like the trainer's stats in these conditions. I’ll put the closer over the speed.
 
HG wager:
$10 EX   6 /   1,2,5, 8  = $40
$5 TRI   6 /   1,2,5,8  /  1,2,5,8  =  $60
Total $100
Thanks Dan!
Harpo
 
A MORE DETAILED ANALYSIS  IS  ALWAYS  APPRECIATED !
REMEMBER, IF YOU ARE DECLARED THE WINNER OF THE HANDIGAMBLING EXERCISE; PLEASE CONTACT FORMBLOG@DRF.COM WITH YOUR DRF LOGIN AND PASSWORD IN ORDER TO ACCESS YOUR PRIZE PACKAGE.
 
ALSO, IF THE WINNER WOULD LIKE TO SELECT THE FOLLOWING WEEK'S RACE, PLEASE CONTACT FORMBLOG@DRF.COM NO LATER THAN THE FOLLOWING WEDNESDAY MORNING (A SATURDAY RACE IS MOST IDEAL)
He had clear running room the entire one-quarter mile stretch. I thought for sure we would catch him. He did kind of level off the last sixteenth of a mile. Maybe he ran out of the training.   
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Copy of HG 5 14 16 Man Of War.xls53.5 KB
HGPREAKNESS.pdf220.44 KB