Prioritize Your Preakness Bets As Nyquist's Triple Crown Odds Shorten

Jay Pryce

Monday, May 9, 2016 12:52 PM UTC

Monday, May. 9, 2016 12:52 PM UTC

Odds for Nyquist to win the Triple Crown dropped notably following his length and a quarter win over Exaggerator in the 142nd Kentucky Derby on Saturday. Check updated prices here.

Kentucky Derby Winner Nyquist is 5-2 at to win back-to-back Triple Crown’s for the first time since Seattle Slew and Affirmed accomplished the exceptional feat in the late 1970s. Prior to donning the roses, sportsbooks listed the undefeated three-year-old colt by Uncle Mo as 8-1 favorite to sweep the Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes.

As any horseracing fan knows, winning the Triple Crown is tough. American Pharoah delivered last year after a 36-year drought, the longest ever. Since 1919, in fact, only 12 horses have achieved one of the rarest achievements in sport:

Year Horse Year Horse
1919 Sir Barton 1946 Assault
1930 Gallant Fox 1948 Citation
1935 Omaha 1973 Secretariat
1937 War Admiral 1977 Seattle Slew
1941 Whirlaway 1978 Affirmed
1943 Count Fleet 2015 American Pharoah

Nyquist worth it at 5-2?
As you can see from the chart above, putting together three wins at classic distances and in a five-week stretch is tough for the modern thoroughbred to complete. Since the early 1980s, changes to training regimens, racing frequency, breeding strategies, and other forces have made the task event more demanding. Lack of stamina and energy typically derails horses’ chances, and the Belmont Stakes, the third and final race in the series, is often the site. Here is a list at all of the Triple Crown contenders since 1978 headed into Belmont, NY with a shot to win it all, and their eventual finish.

Year Horse Belmont Finish Year Horse Belmont Finish
1979 Spectacular Bid 3 2002 War Emblem 8
1981 Pleasant Colony 3 2003 Funny Cide 3
1987 Alysheba 4 2004 Smarty Jones 2
1989 Sunday Silence 2 2008 Big Brown DNF
1997 Silver Charm 2 2012 I'll Have Another Did Not Start
1998 Real Quiet 2 2014 California Chrome 4
1999 Charismatic 3 2015 American Pharoah 1


The longest race for three-year-olds in the nation at 1½ miles, the “Test of Champions” often bites Triple Crown contenders. In addition to the aforementioned factors, fresh horses skipping the Preakness typically show up to spoil the party. Eight of the last 14 Belmont winners did not run in five weeks or more leading up to the race.

Bovada posted Nyquist -170 (10-17) to win the Preakness, and +120 (6-5) to take Belmont. Don’t expect his odds to secure the Triple Crown, currently at +250, to change much from this point on, even if he wins the second leg in Baltimore. American Pharoah was -130 (10-13) following his seven-length Preakness romp in the slop last year. 

Our advice, save your money. An undefeated Derby winner is a very attractive betting pick, but winning the Triple Crown is as tough as it gets. We'll be rooting for the horse, but 5-2 on horceracing futures odds is way too short a price to lay. There will be more attractive bets with better value in the Preakness and Belmont as standalone races. We'll keep you posted. 

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