Category : News
Wed 18/05/2016 – 21:28 EDT
With the Baltimore forecast calling for 1-2 inches of precipitation Saturday, May 21, the 2016 Preakness plot thickens. Which contenders are likely to be impacted, and how does a saturated Pimlico track affect the handicapping process?
As veteran handicappers will attest, it’s difficult to gauge which horses will handle an off-track until they get the chance to prove it. In terms of “proving it,” no horse in the 2016 field comes close to having the sloppy track resume of Kentucky Derby runner-up Exaggerator, who has won a pair of million dollar stakes races over the off-going. As a juvenile, Exaggerator won the Delta Jackpot Stakes over a sloppy track and showed his affinity again for the wet stuff, winning the Santa Anita Derby in April. While it can be argued that Exaggerator will move forward over a sloppy track, will it be enough to overcome Nyquist who has defeated the colt in all four meetings, at three different tracks and four different distances?
Nyquist figures to handle slop
Perhaps a better question is how will Nyquist handle a sloppy track? If the colt’s versatility is any indicator, the betting public should assume the Doug O’Neill trainee will handle an off track just like he handles all new challenges: with aplomb. Nyquist has already won grade one races at four different race tracks – all with very different racing surfaces – while never appearing the least bit daunted. His Florida Derby win in April came over a Gulfstream Park racing surface that had been soaked earlier in the day and was listed as “good.”
Any other mudders?
Among the other contenders, Cherry Wine has a solid sloppy track pedigree as his father, Paddy O’ Prado, finished a fast-closing third in the 2010 Kentucky Derby. There’s also the up-and-coming Stradivari, who looks to have the tactical speed and breeding (sired by Medaglia d’Oro) to adjust to a sloppy track.
The field is set for the $1 million Haskell, where Nyquist will be trying to re-stake his claim as the top three-year-old in the country.
On Sunday at Monmouth Park, the featured race is the $300,000 United Nations Stakes. Scheduled to be run at a mile and three-eighths on the turf, the Grade 1 event has drawn a field of ten colts and geldings.
On Sunday at Monmouth Park, the featured race is the $150,000 Pegasus Stakes, a key prep race for the Haskell Invitational (G1). The Grade 3 event will be contested at a mile and a sixteenth and has drawn a field of seven three-year-olds.
With five grade 1 races and a grade 2, the undercard for the June 11 Belmont stakes could be the best single day of racing on the calendar outside of the Breeders’ Cup.