Preakness Picks 2016: Examining Latest Vegas Predictions and Odds

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistMay 20, 2016

FILE - In this May 7, 2016, file photo, Mario Gutierrez rides Nyquist to victory during the 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby horse race at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. Happy, healthy and hangin' in his new home, Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist is gearing up for another big race, the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore next Saturday, May 21st. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)
David J. Phillip/Associated Press

When it comes to betting on Saturday's Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, there's Nyquist, and then there's everyone else. 

The 2016 Kentucky Derby winner is a whopping favorite to run away with the second leg of the Triple Crown, and a fairly weak field loaded with also-rans should play right into his hands. 

As a reminder, post time for the 141st running of the Preakness is slated for 6:45 p.m. ET. All of the action can be viewed on NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra. Additionally, all odds referenced below are accurate as of Thursday and courtesy of Odds Shark.  

Latest Odds and Preview

2016 Preakness Odds
Post PositionHorseOdds
1Cherry Wine25-1
2Uncle Lino33-1
4Awesome Speed33-1
9Abiding Star40-1
Source: Odds Shark

Nyquist is the overwhelming favorite to run away with a win at the Preakness at 4-7, and history suggests a draw in post No. 3 shouldn't be an issue for the Kentucky Derby champion.

All told, 12 Preakness winners have started from the third gate, and California Chrome was the most recent to do so in 2014, per AL.com's Mark Inabinett.  

Nyquist, trainer Doug O'Neill and jockey Mario Gutierrez can also take a page out of American Pharoah's book after the bay colt started on the inside and captured a Preakness title en route to winning the Triple Crown. 

"Just like last year, American Pharoah won from the rail," the Courier-Journal's Jonathan Lintner wrote. "Like Pharoah, Nyquist tends to leave the gate with his own burst of speed, allowing for forward placement throughout all but one of his eight victories."

Outside of Nyquist, the only other horses who appear to be generating potential upset hype based on the odds are Derby second-place finisher Exaggerator (15-4) and the relatively unproven Stradivari (8-1). 

The primary factor working in Exaggerator's favor at this point is conditioning—which can't be discounted given the small window between the Triple Crown races at Churchill Downs and Pimlico Race Course.

"Obviously, numbers-wise, horse-for-horse-wise, it's tough to think we can beat him, right?" trainer Keith Desormeaux said, per the Baltimore Sun's Jonas Shaffer. "But...the strongest attribute that Exaggerator has is his ability to recover, and as you know, this Preakness is run back in two weeks. That's not normal in this day and age, to run a horse back that quickly."

However, recent trends are working against Exaggerator. 

Although he looked strong in April at the Santa Anita Derby after winning three races in 2015, according to Horse Racing Nation, Exaggerator has finished second to Nyquist on four separate occasions over the past 11 months—including the Kentucky Derby. 

Stradivari enters as a compelling third choice, but the unknown factor is working against him. Although both of his wins have come by greater than 10 lengths, the Preakness will represent just the fourth race of the brown colt's career. 

An 8-1 payout is intriguing, but banking on such an inexperienced horse on one of the sport's biggest stages could prove to be a risky move. 


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