All eyes will be on Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist as the early favorite, but the 11-horse field is filled with some solid contenders looking to end his Triple Crown bid.
The Preakness is the second leg of the Triple Crown racing season with a total prize purse of $1.5 million. It will be contested on the dirt at Pimlico over a distance of 3/16 miles. After breaking down the field for this Saturday's race, the following are the three horses I would use in a trifecta pick.
Favorite to Win
Nyquist drew the No. 3 post for Saturday's Preakness and the three-year old Kentucky-bred colt was promptly opened as a 3/5 favorite to win on the morning line. It would be hard to bet against this horse given everything he has accomplished in his young racing career. The victory at Churchill extended his undefeated streak to eight in a run that also includes a win in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile as a two-year old and a huge upset over favored Mohaymen this past April in the Grade 1 Florida Derby over a distance of 1 1/8 miles.
Trained by Doug O'Neill and ridden by jockey Mario Gutierrez, this pedigree of Uncle Mo comes into this race ranked No. 1 by Horse Racing Nation with a lofty rating of 8.93.
Favorite to Place
The second-favorite to win this year's Preakness at 3/1 opening odds is Exaggerator following his second-place finish in the Kentucky Derby. Trained by Keith Desormeaux and ridden by Kent Desormeaux, this Kentucky-bred colt also finished second to Nyquist earlier this year in the Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes at Santa Anita over a distance of seven furlongs. He went on to win the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby on April 9 to cement his place as one the top three-year olds in the nation.
A pedigree of Curlin, Exaggerator also has the second-highest HRN rating in the field at 8.05 and his current rank is 43. He will break from the No. 5 post in Saturday's main event at Pimlico.
Favorite to Show
Trainer Todd Pletcher is banking on big things from his top entry in this race even though this three-year old Kentucky-bred colt will be making his debut in a stakes race. Stradivari drew the No. 11 post for this race and he has been opened as an 8/1 third-favorite to stun the field as a relative unknown. Horse racing insiders have obviously heavily discounted the fact that he has only run in two Maiden Special Weight races as a juvenile and just one Allowance race this season and I am buying into all the hype.
Look for veteran jockey John Velazquez to get the ride which only adds value to this betting pick and despite the lack of racing experience Stradivari comes into this race with a HRN rating of 7.87.
Morning Line Odds for Other Notable Contenders
Trainer Bob Baffert's Collected has been opened as a 10/1 fourth-favorite to win the Preakness following a victory in the Grade 2 Lexington Stakes. Both Cherry Wine and Uncle Lino will be making their Triple Crown racing debut at 20/1 betting odds. Along with Nyquist, Uncle Lino is also pedigree of Uncle Mo. Lani finished ninth in the Kentucky Derby and he is one of five horses in the field opened as a 30/1 longshot.