A second chance. That's what Nyquist represents for owner Paul Reddam, trainer Doug O'Neill and jockey Mario Gutierrez. Four years ago, the trio teamed up with I'll Have Another to win the first two legs of the Triple Crown before being forced to scratch their colt with an injury the night before the chance to run for history.
Saturday with a win at the 141st Preakness Stakes, Nyquist can help them get back to that point. You can watch the race on NBC or stream it with NBC Sports Live Extra. The post time is set for approximately 6:45 p.m. ET, but the broadcast is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. Prerace coverage starts at 2:30 p.m. on NBCSN.
Nyquist enters the 1-3/16 mile, $1.5 million Preakness undefeated in the eight races he's run during his 2- and 3-year-old seasons. He's won on dry tracks and wet tracks both. He's beaten fast horses and held off late closers. There's absolutely no reason to believe he won't win again at Pimlico.
There's something quiet in his dominance. Maybe it's that his run is coming a year after American Pharoah earned the first Triple Crown in 37 years. No longer are we asking, will this finally be the year? Yet his time in the Kentucky Derby was nearly 2 seconds faster than Pharoah's, and you can't argue he hasn't been pushed by some good competition along the way.
Exaggerator, trained by Keith Desormeaux with his brother, Kent, as jockey, could derail this entire story in an instant. Keith Desormeaux explained to Daily Racing Form why he believes he has just the horse to do that.
"One of [Exaggerator's] attributes is a great ability to recover, to bounce back. He's always been that way. With just the two weeks between these races, I'm hoping that with the massive performance Nyquist turned in, maybe he'll be knocked out just a tiny bit. My horse is fully fueled; I'm sure of that. Two days out of the Derby he was wide-eyed and ready to go again.
"I'm hoping this will be the most important factor of all - that we're going to be sitting on our best race and Nyquist will have hit his plateau already."
The son of Curlin, Exaggerator opens at 3-1 odds and starts in the fifth position.
The intriguing one in the field is Stradivari, who is trained by Todd Pletcher, will start on the outside post and opens at 8-1 odds. With just three starts to his name, none of them graded races, it's harder to say what to expect. Sired by Medaglia D'oro, the farm he came from had hoped to sell him at auction, but the price came up short of their reserve, DRF wrote in a nice profile. Instead, they chose to race him, and found they had a colt who blew away the competition by distances greater than 10 lengths and with a time as good as Nyquist put up at a similar distance. So they entered him in the Preakness.
"I hope his maturity will enable him to be able to handle it and run beyond his experience," said Tanya Gunther, who, with father John Gunther, bred the colt and co-owns him with Coolmore. "If he didn't have as good of a mind, we might be taking a different track."
There are other contenders, though the rest of the field is given no better than double-figure odds of winning. Trainer Bob Baffert's Collected is at 10-1. He has three wins in five starts, all coming in graded competition. However, he has never faced top competition on the track.
Forecasts call for rain in the Baltimore area for most of the day, with it expected to fall heavy at times. Up to an inch could fall on the track at Pimlico.
2016 Preakness Stakes
Post time: 6:45 p.m. ET
Streaming: NBC Live Extra
Distance: 1-3/16 miles
Purse: At least $1.5 million
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