Bettors Not Convinced Nyquist Makes Back-To-Back Triple Crown Winner

Jay Pryce

Tuesday, May 17, 2016 12:00 PM GMT

Odds on Nyquist taking the Triple Crown are inching upwards just days out from the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore on Saturday.

Less than a week away from the Preakness Stakes, bettors are not convinced the Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist can make it back-to-back Triple Crown winners for only the second time in history. After opening a short 5-2 favorite in advanced wagering following his length-and-a-quarter win over Exaggerator in the 142nd Run for the Roses, odds that the Doug O’Neill-trained colt can pull off one of the toughest accomplishments in sports have inched upwards to as high as 4-1 at some sports books. The undefeated 3-year-old son of Uncle Mo was 8-1 prior to the Derby.

Should investors be surprised with the bearish market? Probably not. Since 1919, only 12 horses have won the Triple Crown, and the horseracing world suffered a 37-year drought prior to American Pharoah’s heroics last year. It is tough for any young horse to win three races in a row, and at classic distances, in such a short time period. Not to mention, changing training regimens, race frequencies, breeding strategies, and a host of other forces in the past few decades have proved the feat even more daunting.

Bettors are getting used to short-priced Triple Crown candidates for their horse racing betting picks. This is the fourth year in a row the Kentucky Derby favorite enters the second leg ready to challenge history. Although the Belmont Stakes, the longest dirt race for 3-year-olds in America at 1½ miles, is often the graveyard for Triple Crown contenders, this year’s Preakness Stakes may prove more difficult for the Derby winner than most.

Pimlico has traditionally been kind to both chalk and Derby victors. Since 1873, a little more than 50 percent of Preakness winners have gone off the favorite (16 percent ROI). In the last 41 years, 16 of 38 Kentucky Derby winners have crossed the wire first, returning roughly 22 percent to bettors.

The Preakness field is expected to be large, with upwards of 12 horses making up the 14-horse maximum field limit. Derby runner-up Exaggerator will give it another go. He is 0-4 versus Nyquist lifetime, but the connections are convinced the colt can challenge with the perfect trip. Laoban and Cherry Wine, two also-eligibles for the Derby are entered as well, with Lani, ninth place finisher and the first Japanese-bred horse to ever compete in the Preakness, likely to start. Lexington Stakes winner Collected will turns heads. The Bob Baffert-trained colt enters live and an upset would give the famed trainer his record-tying seventh Preakness victory.

Like his Triple Crown betting odds, Nyquist is slipping in Preakness futures. Bovada opened the Derby champion 10-17 following his win, increasing to 5-7 the Monday prior to the post-position draw. Expect this price to roughly match the colt’s odds to win the Belmont if he leaves Baltimore victorious. American Pharoah was -130 (10-13) following his seven-length Preakness romp in the slop last year.