Friday, May 20, 2016

Preakness Stakes 2016

Pimlico  - May 21, 2016
Race 13 - 6:45 PM
Preakness Stakes.   (Grade I)
Purse - $1,500,000
Distance - One And Three Sixteenth Miles
Surface – Dirt

1 –  Cherry Wine
2 – Uncle Lino                                                   
3 – Nyquist        
4 – Awesome Speed                                                     
5 – Exaggerator                                                
6 – Lani                                                                
7 – Collected
8 – Laoban
9 –  Abiding Star
10 – Fellowship
11 - Stradivari

For anyone who missed #3 Nyquist victory in the Kentucky Derby see the video below.

Two things that caught my attention during the race -- 

This is the second straight race that Nyquist has gone VERY wide on the final turn, I believe this may be one of the only weak spots this horse has in his racing style at this time --- I’m sure his trainers are working on it – however his wide sweeps could make him vulnerable…..that is if there was a horse equal to his talents – and so far there hasn’t been.

Also you’ll notice that #5 Exaggerator really struggles to work through the wall of horses coming out of the final turn and does an admiral job of closing on Nyquist in the final furlong. 

Perhaps with less horses and a distance greater than a mile and 1/8 ….. Exaggerator may have enough space and distance to steal one from Nyquist.

Kentucky Derby:

Most experts consider the Preakness a two horse race – you either like Nyquist to keep on winning, at a distance he should be able to handle easily – or you’re hoping Exaggerator will be able to pull off an upset.

The Preakness, in my opinion, is Nyquist’s race to lose…Nyquist is undefeated in 8 races --- and in those 8 races he has defeated Exaggerator (the second favorite in this race) 4 times.

Overall there is less talent, fewer horses, and less distance in the Preakness compared to the Kentucky Derby -- this race is offering every advantage to Nyquist.....and he really doesn't need it.

The second favorite is #5 Exaggerator who has 4 victories in 10 races --- if Nyquist didn’t exist, he would likely have 6 victories in 10 races.

An interesting side note in this year’s Preakness is that Nyquist shares the same sire (Uncle Mo) with #2 Uncle Lino, #8 Laoban, and #9 Abiding Star.

Here’s a review of the rest of the field.
Strangely Sensitive Cheetah
can't help but start humming
Spill the Wine by War
when he sees Cherry Wine.

 #1 Cherry Wine – has 2 wins in 8 attempts and has a tendency to fall back early and close late. His last race was a 3rd place finish 42 days ago in the Blue Grass Stakes.

#2 Uncle Lino – 2 wins in 7 races – his last race was a victory in the California Chrome Stakes in Los Alamitos – and he finished 3rd (behind Exaggerator) in the Santa Anita Derby.

#4 Awesome Speed – has won 4 out of 6 races – and is coming off a recent victory 42 days ago.

#6 Lani – has 3 victories in 7 attempts – however one of his victories was the very impressive UAE Derby  -- Lani showcased a great closing stride in the UAE Derby – however word on the track is that Lani is….eccentric -- or just crazy! Below is a portion of an article from Yahoo.

Lani isn't going to start delivering Pizza in Adult Films...
is he???
Looney Lani earned a reputation at Churchill Downs in the run-up to the Derby by being, shall we say, overly excited when he took to the track for morning workouts. The Churchill notes crew employed the euphemism "studdish," since he certainly appeared more interested in breeding than breezing on several mornings. Some publicity photos were even photoshopped to remove the protruding evidence of Lani's ardor.

Then there were the days before the Derby when Lani didn't feel like running. His exercise rider could not coax a gallop out of him on the day of his last major workout, and the move was postponed. Nobody seemed quite sure what he was going to do on any given morning.
#7 Collected – has 4 victories in 6 attempts – with his last race being a victory in the Lexington Stakes.  Collected will likely try to stalk Nyquist in the first turn and go stride for stride with him from there.

#8 Laoban – has never won a race in 5 outings…….he did finish 4th in the Blue Grass Stakes

#9 Abiding Star – has 5 victories in 11 races – and recently won the 2016 Parx Derby (in Philadelphia).

#10 Fellowship – has 2 wins in 12 races – with a recent 4th place finish in the Pat Day Mile

#11 Stradavari – has 2 wins in 3 races – with a recent Allowance Race victory.

Stradavari is currently the 3rd favorite in this race and there is some “buzz” around this horse – but I don’t think he’s ready for this kind of talent -- granted he may really only be competing for 3rd place (the Show).

Here is how I see the race playing out –

Cherry Wine will gladly fall back – I'm looking for Cherry Wine to stay on the inside and close strongly coming out of the final turn. If he got VERY LUCKY -- and Nyquist goes FAR WIDE in the last turn -- Cherry Wine may be in a position to stay close the the rail and steal one from both Nyquist and Exaggerator......lot of things need to happen for Cherry Wine though.

Uncle Lino will hope to keep up with Nyquist and prevent Nyquist from grabbing the rail……he may succeed….however Nyquist may bolt to the lead and cut Uncle Lino off before the first turn, leaving Uncle Lino boxed in.

There are two very interesting questions that will be answered in the first quarter mile – will Exaggerator attempt to run at the top of the pack and keep pace with Nyquist……and if he does --- what kind of pace will Nyquist set.

A great example of this is the San Vicente Stakes – granted this is only a 7 furlong race, but you’ll notice Nyquist runs a 22.5 ¼ mile…..and Exaggerator is right there with him.

San Vicente:

Exaggerator may also be looking to fall back to the middle of the pack in hopes that some of the other horses push Nyquist to a blazing early pace ….. and that Nyquist will be too spent to finish strongly and Exaggerator can fly by in the final furlong to steal a victory.

The problem for Exaggerator is that the strategy of “hoping Nyquist is spent” hasn’t worked yet……despite dangerous early speed, Nyquist (so far) has had plenty of endurance to finish races.

The other problem for Exaggerator is running at the front isn’t really what he does best… he’d be changing his own style in hopes of beating Nyquist at Nyquist’s own game……also NOT a successful strategy…..this of course is why Exaggerator is 0 for 4 against Nyquist.

***If Exaggerator decides to hang back in the middle of the pack and set himself up on the inside coming out of the final turn AND Nyquist sweeps wide or is pushed Wide in the final turn -- Exaggerator may be able to steal one on the inside -- I think it's possible, but unlikely.

Collected I believe will stalk Nyquist – Awesome Speed may also work to be in the top 4 horses.

Once they hit the final turn I believe Awesome Speed and Uncle Lino will fade -- Collected may be able to hang in there for a third place finish.

Closing Speed likes:  Nyquist / Exaggerator / Cherry Wine

I was given some betting advice many years ago that has served me well -- if you believe it's really only a two horse race -- split the favorites with a long shot --- it is rare that the race will favor both it's good to put a long shot in the middle.


If you're very confident that the favorite is going to win (and there isn't much money in it for you) the other way to go is to bet a Pick 3 / Pick 4 and have your "Sure Thing" anchor the Picks......I'm going with the latter advice.

If I’m betting $24  I like:

A pick 3 starting:

Race 11: 3/6/7/9
Race 12: 7/9/11/12
Race 13; 3

And two long shot $1 Exactas:

1,6,7,11 with 3 = $4

3 with 1,6,7,11 = $4

Friday, May 6, 2016

Kentucky Derby 2016

Churchhill Downs – May 7, 2016
Race 12 - 6:34 PM
Kentucky Derby (Grade I)
Purse - $2,000,000
Distance - One And One Quarter Miles
Surface - Dirt

1 –  Trojan Nation
2 – Suddenbreakingnews
3 – Creator                         
4 – Mo Tom                                                       
5 – Gun Runner
6 - My Man Sam
7 – Oscar Nominated
8 – Lani
9 –  Destin
10 – Whitmore
11 – Exaggerator
12 – Tom’s Ready
13 – Nyquist
14 – Mohaymen
15 – Outwork
16 – Shagaf
17 – Mor Spirit
18 – Majesto
19 – Brody’s Cause
20 – Danzig Candy
From what I’m seeing the 2016 Kentucky Derby is split into two groups – the first group believes that #13 Nyquist is a far superior horse to the rest of the field and this is “his” race to lose.

Why do haters gotta hate??
The second group might fall in the “haters gotta hate” group – that’s just looking for any way the heavy favorite could fail or because they’re hoping to make some money on a longshot.

Full disclosure (as a fan) I’m in the first group – Nyquist has been nothing short of amazing in his undefeated 7 race career. He’s won on four different tracks, in three different states.  He fearlessly was transferred to Florida to take on (perhaps) the second best horse in the nation #14 Mohaymen – on Mohaymen’s “home court” – defeating all in the Florida Derby.

Florida Derby:
(also featuring #14Mohaymen and  #18 Majesto)

Nyquist has all of the trademarks that make up a “GREAT” Kentucky Derby favorite – he possesses enough early speed that he can separate from a field of 12 to 19 horses and set his own early pace.

My “fear” for Nyquist is that while he has shown racing maturity he “could” fall for an early speed trap and burn himself out too early……but again, he’s shown maturity so far.

Nyquist also appears comfortable with longer distances and able to sustain enough endurance so that he doesn’t fade in the final furlongs.

In the Florida Derby you’ll notice he does go VERY wide in the final turn and he does waver in the final furlongs – which does indicate some fatigue – but, in my opinion, the undefeated Juvenile Champion looks like a fighter and I think once he hits the final stretch and builds two or three lengths on the other horses….it’s OVER.

However, for those looking for a surprise victory, there are a few interesting horses.

#3 Creator (currently going off at 10/1) is a story of Good News / Bad News – the Bad News is that this horse has only won 2 races out of 8 – however he won his last race The Arkansas Derby and Creator seems poised to be a bigger threat at longer distances – so additional good news is that this horse could be just getting into races he’s comfortable with.

As you watch the Arkansas Derby you’ll see that the Big Grey Colt likes to hang WAAAAAYYY back until he makes his final push…’s also interesting to see that both Creator and Suddenbreakingnews seem to be finding their stride late in the race......

Arkansas Derby:
(also featuring #2 Suddenbreakingnews & #10 Whitmore)

#5 Gun Runner – Winner of both the Louisiana Derby and Risen Star Stakes) has won 4 out of 5 career races.

*If Gun Runner can break from the gate well and take the rail – he could challenge Nyquist early – I think Gun Runner has a shot to land in the top three with some luck.

There’s also a chance that he could get swallowed in a swarm of horses and never have a chance to break out.

Louisiana Derby
(also featuring #4 Mo Tom & #12 Tom’s Ready)

#11 Exaggerator – was the winner of the Santa Anita Derby, and has 4 career victories in 9 attempts (one of his losses was against Nyquist in February). Exaggerator was sired by one of my favorites (Curlin) and he possesses a great late kick --- and I love that he’s comfortable in traffic – I don’t love him at 8/1 – I’d be more interested at 12/1 or higher.

Santa Anita Derby
(also featuring #17 Mor Spirit and #20 Danzig Candy)

 #15 Outwork has won 3 of his 4 career races – including the Wood Memorial --- his one loss was against #9 Destin in the Tampa Bay Derby.

I like Outwork but I think he received a tough luck post position – I believe he needed to be on the inside of Nyquist to have a solid shot and I don’t think this horse is going to be able to overtake Nyquist early or have a better late kick than some of the other horses – tough draw.

#9 Destin is a bit of a mystery – he hasn’t raced in 56 days – he’s won his last two stakes races – and I love his starting spot……but I HATE the long layoff and the fact that he hasn’t really competed against top talent. But a VERY intriguing longshot.

Wood Memorial
(also featuring #1 Trojan Nation and #16 Shagaf)

To round out the field –

Strangely Sensitive Cheetah
wonders why they didn't name
the horse Oscar Winner?
I mean....they had a choice.
#7 Oscar Nominated – has won his last two races (including the Spiral Stakes) and has won a total of 3 out of 7 career attempts.  I like his starting spot…..but he strikes me as a horse that’s just happy to be there – I believe he’ll be overwhelmed by the level of talent in this one.

#8 Lani – I’m always VERY interested when the UAE Derby winner comes out of the Middle East to race in the Kentucky Derby – This horse has won in Japan and the Dubai – it appears to me that this horse likes to run in the middle of the pack – and closes out very smoothly.  That being said – while this horse has a premium post position - he hasn’t raced in 42 days and he’s dealing with a very difficult traveling transition.  Full disclosure – I always think the UAE Derby winner will surprise….and the only one that’s surprised is me when they finish so poorly.

#19 Brody’s Cause – he’s another quality horse that will strike very late in a race. He has won 3 out of 6 career races and if he can find a lane coming out of the final turn, he could certainly be an upset contender --- but only if Nyquist is fatigued.

#6 My Man Sam – finished 2nd to Brody’s Cause in the recent Blue Grass Stakes – but My Man Sam was driving in the final furlongs.  He’s got only 1 victory in 4 attempts….but he looks like he likes the distance…..I don’t love him at 20/1…..but if he hits 30/1 or higher…..he’s interesting.

Here’s how I see the race breaking down

#1 Trojan Nation likely gets swallowed up in less than one full second from a collapsing dune of horses and is likely never heard from again – meanwhile on the opposite side #20 Danzig Candy will have to make a very difficult decision – either Danzig Candy will burst out and hit the pace at a suicide level in hopes of grabbing a top spot and somehow sustaining it……or come out of the gate weakly and look to find a spot in the top half of the pack – either way I think Danzig Candy will have a very difficult time making this post work for him.

I believe Brody’s Cause, Suddenbreakingnews, Exaggerator and Creator will ALL fall back to the back of the pack – Creator will likely be the furthest back….and Exaggerator may work his way closer to middle of the pack.

Gun Runner could get swallowed up early – but I think he could make the first turn and be the early leader – I suspect he’ll be joined by Nyquist, Mohaymen and Outwork. Destin could also be there.

If Nyquist is pushing an early quarter at 21 or 22 seconds he could be in trouble – however if Nyquist has a clear path in front of him and he’s running a 23.5 second quarter --- I think EVERYBODY else is in trouble.

Nyquist may have to fight off getting boxed in by the other horses – in what I consider poor sportsmanship – sometimes the other jockeys will try to box the favorite in…..doesn’t translate into their horses winning as much as it does the favorite losing.

Coming into the final turn I believe Outwork and Mohaymen will likely begin to fade…..they may have run 5 or 6 wide the entire race and it will have been too much to maintain. 

We’ll see if Gun Runner is able to challenge.

Midway in the final turn I suspect we’ll begin hearing that Brody’s Cause, My Man Sam, Suddenbreakingnews, Exaggerator  and Creator are making their late pushes….IF one of these horses can find an open lane close to the rail or the inside track of Nyquist – I think any of these horses have a shot at an upset over Nyquist.

However if a lane through that wall of horses doesn’t open up early enough or if the late closing horses are forced AROUND the wall of horses (i.e. to the far outside)  – and Nyquist has built up a lead and still has enough strength to finish – I suspect Nyquist will be on his way to the Winner’s Circle.

Closing Speed likes: Nyquist / Exaggerator / Brody's Cause

If I’m betting $38 on this race I like:

$1 Trifecta Box: 11,13, 19 = $6
$1 Exacta: 5,7,8,9 w 13 = $4
$1 Exacta: 13 w 5,7,8,9 = $4
(Or just $2 -  5,7,8,9 to win = $8)

$1 Exacta Box: 2,,3,11,13 = $24