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Exaggerator turned the tables on Nyquist after losing to his rival four consecutive times. He was expertly handled by Hall of Fame rider Kent Desormeaux, who kept him off a fast early pace. Desormeaux moved at just the right time and had it wrapped up in mid-stretch. As expected, Exaggerator relished the sloppy track. If ever there was a horse that deserved a “mud mark” it’s this horse.
Nyquist came into the Preakness undefeated and went off as the 3/5 choice. Mario Gutierrez, who guided Nyquist to a perfect trip in the Kentucky Derby, lost the race by ding-donging with 40-1 outsider, Uncle Lino. Had Gutierrez allowed Uncle Lino to go on with the fast pace, Nyquist surely would have had something in reserve when challenged by Exaggerator. The first quarter was run in :22.1, the fastest in Preakness history. This is really saying something when you realize two sprint stakes on the undercard could only produce :23 and :23.2 for the first two furlongs. This was not some souped up, concrete surface that we see on many of the big days. The decision to try and outrun Uncle Lino got Nyquist beat, plain and simple.
The top five finishers were all within five lengths of each other. Cherry Wine picked up tired foes and closed stoutly on the inside, tagging Nyquist for the runner-up spot. It turned out to be a big weekend for Dale Romans. In addition to training Cherry Wine to a placing in the Preakness, he took the top two spots in the Black-Eyed Susan on Friday.
Stradivari ran a sneaky good race. He was bottled up behind the speed and couldn’t find a clean path for much of the race. Once clear, he proved resolute and validated the buzz (which included an $80,000 win wager on him just a few hours before post time). His 4th place finish should be viewed in a positive light.
Lani came from nearly 30 lengths back to finish 5th, beaten just five lengths. He was off slow and steadied midway through the race. All in all, 9th in the Kentucky Derby and 5th in the Preakness was not too bad for this Japanese import. He’s expected to move on to the final leg of the Triple Crown.
Now it’s on to Belmont in three weeks. Word is Nyquist and Exaggerator will face off yet again in that “test of a champion” at a mile and a half. My Kentucky Derby selection, Suddenbreakingnews, will be waiting in New York. He looks primed to post an upset at a distance his pedigree and stamina have revealed he’ll relish.
Canterbury Up 31%
Early numbers indicate Canterbury Park was up 31% over opening weekend in 2015. As has been widely reported, Canterbury reduced their takeout to the lowest levels in the nation. Many simulcast players added Canterbury to their betting menu. Many had not wagered on Canterbury previously. This is big news, it sends a strong message to track officials everywhere that takeout is an important factor in their wagering decision.
Unfortunately for Canterbury, opening night was littered with low prices. The longest priced winner on the card was a paltry 5-2. The rest of the weekend did produce a few bigger prices. As is customary with this track, whenever prices appear in the superfecta, it overpays. In the 2nd race on Saturday, when a 3-5 Robertino Diodoro favorite finished off the board in a 7 horse field, the 10-cent superfecta paid $2,511. How absurdly high was this payoff? You could have boxed all 7 runners for $84.
Dave Valento has been involved in horse racing since 1986 and is author of the Track Phantom analysis sheets available for all Southern California live racing and many other major tracks. View a sample analysis sheet at http://www.trackphantom.com Twitter: @trackphantom Email: [email protected]