This Saturday will be the second leg of the Triple Crown and again the talk is all about another Triple Crown winner. We will see.
There will be between 10 and 12 runners lining up to take on the undefeated Nyquist, who will be a short price in the Preakness, and a lot of new faces in the lineup who we did not see in the Kentucky Derby.
The runners who did face Nyquist in the Kentucky Derby will be Exaggerator, who was my Derby pick but could only get up for place money; Lani, who finished a better-than-looked ninth, and possibly Gun Runner, who was a gallant third in the Kentucky Derby.
The horse a lot of bettors and handicappers are talking about is the violin playing Stradivari. I don’t know if he plays or not but he really can run. He has won his last two starts by a total of 25 lengths, but to be fair one was versus maidens last year and his last was against an overmatched allowance group at Keeneland. To say he can beat a horse like Nyquist is a real reach for this bettor.
Another runner getting some talk is Sharp Azteca out of the sizzling hot barn of Jorge Navarro. This colt has run off three straight wins including the Payday Mile at Churchill on Kentucky Derby day. Toss this colt out at your own risk.
Uncle Lino also will take a shot at Nyquist off his big win in the California Chrome at Los Alamitos when setting a track record. He has lost to Exaggerator, Mor Spirit and Danzing Candy in the past and the field in the California Chrome was so-so. We will need to pass on him.
Trainer Dale Romans sends out Cherry Wine, a deep closer who sat on the also list for the Kentucky Derby. He was a fast closing third in the Blue Grass and a fast closing fourth in the Rebel. He will be making a late run again but will be too far back to win. He can be used in the super’s.
Not to be left out, Bob Baffert sends out the speedy Collected off a big Lexington win and his Sunland victory. He will be on or near the front end but couldn’t beat Suddenbreakingnews in the Southwest. He is a nice horse but not good enough to win. He can be used in the trifecta and super though.
Ok, the bottom line is what do we do? Will this Triple Crown take us back to the Triple Crown of 1978 when Affirmed and Alydar finished first and second in all three races with Affirmed taking the Triple Crown in an epic stretch battle in the Belmont Stakes?
Nyquist has beaten Exaggerator the four times they have met and that reminds me of an old horse bettor story once told to me by an old bookie back at the Smoke House cigar store in Steubenville, back in the 60’s.
Two guys are sitting in a movie theatre and this horse race scene comes on . One guy says to the other, “I’ll bet you 10 bucks the 8 horse beats the 2.” The guys says ok. They run the race and the 2 beats the 8 by a half-length. The guy pays the other guy the $10 and says, “I just can’t understand, I saw this movie yesterday.” The other guy says, “Well if you saw it yesterday why did you bet the 8 horse?” He says, “Well, I thought he was ready today.”
Yes, Exaggerator lost to Nyquist four times but his last four starts indicate to me a horse that is ready to run the race of his life. He arrived at Pimlico Race Course on Sunday and was put in lucky stall 21. This bettor will be keying him first and second again. I will bet him on the front end at 3/1 or higher.
I will use Nyquist and Gun Runner also in those two spots, may toss in Lani, who is better than his last, and the others I mentioned in the third and fourth spots for tri’s and supers. If Gun Runner does not go, then you will need to adjust, but at this moment in time this is my order of finish:
2. Nyquist/Gun Runner
3. Collected/Stradivari/Sharp Azteca/Cherry Wine
Take note and don’t forget those dime super boxes for the Preakness. Station Casinos will be offering a $15,000 Twin Q. This is a must-bet as you can win a big bunch of $$$ for just a $2 wager. If you need any help putting a Twin Q together feel free to stop by Palace Station and seek me out. I will be located in my usual spot: seat 2, row 2, no smoke section from 7 a.m. till noon.
You just never know, you could be walking around lucky and not even know it.