Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist will face a slew of new challengers in the Preakness next Saturday at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.
Runner-up Exaggerator and ninth-place finisher Lani are two Derby horses taking him on again. Here’s a look at some of the new shooters, including possible rising star Stradivari, a pair of colts who weren’t able to run in the Derby and another 3-year-old from Triple Crown-winning trainer Bob Baffert.
For now, here’s your hottest new shooter. With just three races on his resume, this 3-year-old son of Medaglia ‘Oro is looking to follow a similar path taken by 2006 Preakness winner Bernardini.The bay colt makes his stakes debut in the second leg of the Triple Crown. But, oh boy, his two victories have been eye-catching: one by 11 ¼ lengths at Gulfstream Park last year, the latest a 14 ½ lengths at Keeneland on April 17. Both races were around two turns, an encouraging sign for trainer by Todd Pletcher.
Pletcher is well aware Stradivari is taking on much-more experienced 3-year-olds, but “from a talent standpoint he belongs.
“You just hope you have enough seasoning,” he added, pointing to the approach taken by Bernardini, who was trained by Tom Albertrani.
Like Stradivari, Bernardini ran fourth in his first race, then broke his maiden at Gulfstream by 7 ¾ lengths and won the Withers at Aqueduct by 3 ¾ lengths. A slight difference is Bernardini did not run as a 2-year-old.
“Hopefully,” says Stradivari’s jockey John Velazquez, “he can handle it.”
A well-traveled 3-year-old, this Baffert-trained Lexington winner seems to be improving. The son of City Zip clinched his Preakness chance after a solid seven-furlong workout Friday at Churchill Downs.
He opened his 2016 campaign with a win the Sham Stakes and ran fourth in the Southwest at Oaklawn Park. He then rebounded and won the Sunland Park Festival of Racing Stakes and the Lexington. Baffert has won the Preakness six times, four times with Derby winners. His two non-Derby Preakness winners are Point Given in 2001 and Lookin at Lucky in 2010.
Like Nyquist, a son of Uncle Mo. Based on that alone, who can discard this colt? Laoban was an also-eligible but not get into the field limited to 20 starters. Trainer Eric Guillot has himself a speedy, front-running horse that could shake things up in the Preakness. In his last start, Laoban (Lay-ban) set the pace in the Blue Grass despite a slow start but faded to fourth. His career record says he doesn’t have much chance, though — he’s 0 for 5.
Yet another son of Uncle Mo? Well, yes. With a leading 20 horses nominated to Triple Crown races, Uncle Mo is racing’s top sire these days with his first class of 3-year-olds. A remarkable feat.
In Uncle Lino, here’s a colt making his first start outside California, which has been home base for three of the last four Preakness winners.
In his last race for trainer Gary Sherlock, Uncle Lino won the California Chrome Stakes at Los Alamitos on April 30. He ran second, fourth and third, respectively, in the Robert B. Lewis, the San Felipe and the Santa Anita Derby.
Dale Romans is looking to pull off a surprise and win his second Preakness. The trainer won the 2011 race with Shackleford at 12-1 odds. Unlike Shackleford, Cherry Wine prefers to come from off the pace. In his past two races, the gray son of Paddy O’Prado finished fourth in the Rebel and rallied for third in the Blue Grass — behind winning stablemate Brody’s Cause. An also-eligible for the Derby, Cherry Wine did not make the field.
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