Friday, May 20, 2016

Undefeated Nyquist Makes Bid To Win Preakness Stakes, Second Jewel Of Triple Crown

©2016 Calvin L. Carter. All rights reserved.

This Saturday, the classic trail to Triple Crown glory takes us to Pimlico Race Couse in Baltimore, Maryland, where Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist will attempt to win the second jewel of the crown as the prohibitive 3-5 morning-line favorite in the 141st running of the $1.5 million Preakness Stakes (G1).
Prerace television coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. ET on the NBC Sports Network with race coverage beginning at 5 p.m. on NBC.
Undefeated in eight starts, Nyquist is the deserving favorite and the horse to beat. He’s the second classic winner for the connections of trainer Doug O’Neill and owner J. Paul Reddam who led I’ll Have Another to wins in the 2012 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness Stakes (G1).
In addition to Nyquist, Exaggerator (3-1) and Lani (30-1) also ran in the Derby and they are two horses that should be solid in this race. Other horses that could, perhaps, be factors are Stradivari (8-1) and Collected (10-1).
Knowing as much as possible about the Thoroughbred and what it takes to produce a classic champion has been a passion of mine since the early 1990s and my research and study led to the creation of the Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile®  which is an analytical tool I use to measure the graded stakes and classic potential of young horses.
In 2014, the Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® was developed into a software program by my brother, Dallas, and it assigns each horse a numerical score which is the indicator of that horse’s potential. The higher the score, the more potential that horse has to become a quality stakes horse or classic champion.
Let’s take a look at the profiles of the horses in Preakness 141:

In the Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile chart, Lani is the only horse with an A+ profile and he’s a much better horse than his performance in the Derby would indicate. However, one never knows if a young Thoroughbred with a high profile score like Lani will live up to his breeding. And, there can be many contributing factors for a horse not running to his profile score – Effinex is a good example of that.
Stradivari has a B profile grade rating while Awesome Speed (30-1) and Exaggerator have a C profile. All the others have low profile scores.
Our research which is documented in my numerous blogs and website, shows that a majority of horses run close to their Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® score which is a measurement of the breeding influences found in the five-generation pedigree. If horses like Lani are not running close to their profile score, then the issue[s] preventing them from reaching their full potential needs to be investigated.
Horse behavior is also vitally important for an Equine athlete to have success on the racetrack and one of the biggest changes that have been made to the software is the addition of the Behavior Index which I wrote about in my wrap up for the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2).
The Behavior Index is proving to be a very valuable analytical tool, and, with its addition to the software, Dallas and I are now able to add behavioral analysis to the final equation of what it takes to produce a Classic Champion Thoroughbred or top quality graded stakes competitor.
For example, in the Behavior Index chart above, of all the horses with low profile scores, Nyquist is the only one that pops into the top four when you factor in behavioral analysis. Uncle Mo, the sire of Nyquist, also sired Abiding Star (30-1), Uncle Lino (20-1) and Laoban (30-1). However, their profile scores are higher than Uncle Mo’s score and that makes them upgrades to the Ancestral Herd.
In the Behavior Index chart and Data Mining chart, I’ve noted that Collected is a wildcard horse and that he could, perhaps, finish in two separate spots. If he runs to his previous form, Collected should be competitive. However, I’m curious to see just have far he really wants to run. Also, in the Data Mining chart, when you factor in data mining analysis, Nyquist and Exaggerator are now ranked as the top two.
There’s been some recent buzz about Uncle Lino and I had thought about listing him as a horse that could, potentially, have been ranked fifth in the Behavior Index and Data Mining charts. But, I did not add any data mining to him.
Some horses that have low profile scores, like Nyquist and Uncle Lino, can be moved up because their Behavior Index makes them competitive, enabling them to sometimes win races that are shorter than the classic 10 furlong distance. However, only a few horses with low profile scores, like Nyquist, can go on to win races at the classic distance.
Let’s take a look at the horses I like in Preakness Stakes (G1) 141.

LANI is a sire-line descendant of the A.P. Indy, Bold Ruler Ancestral Herd and with an A+ Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® he has the potential to run better than what he ran in the Kentucky Derby (G1). Here’s a look at the chart call and video of the Derby and an interactive race sequence from the Blood Horse.

LANI broke slow and was bumped when DESTIN came in, settled off the inside, improved slightly into the far turn, was forced extremely wide approaching the stretch, recovered and kept on willingly.

I’m willing to overlook his run in the Kentucky Derby and time will tell if Lani has any classic potential.
In the UAE Derby (G2), Lani and Polar River were the two horses I liked and his victory in that race earned him a spot in the starting gate of Kentucky Derby 142. Here’s the video and Racing Post chart call of his run in the UAE Derby:

[LANI] broke awkwardly, chased leaders 4f out, led 110 yds out, ran on well.

Lani recovered well after the horrible start to get up and secure the win over a very good Polar River who was undefeated in four starts going into that race.
To date, Lani has compiled a 3-1-0 record in seven starts for trainer Mikio Matsunaga. His other significant races include a win in the Cattleya Sho Stakes and a fifth-place finish in the one mile Hyacinth Stakes at Tokyo Racecourse. Here’s the video of Hyacinth Stakes.
Despite the fifth-place finish in the Hyacinth Stakes, Lani only lost by 2¾ lengths and the final time of 1:35.40 is what I like to see colts run on the Derby Trail.
Tapit, the sire of Lani, was undefeated in two starts as a 2-year-old including a win in the Laurel Futurity (G3). As a 3-year-old, Tapit was troubled by a lung infection for much of the season but did win the nine-furlong Wood Memorial Stakes (G1) in route to a ninth-place finish in the 2004 Kentucky Derby.
Much was made about the quirky behavior of Lani leading up to the Kentucky Derby. Here’s what Bloodstock agent and clocker Gary Young had to say about Lani in his last work out on May 3:

The “Iron Horse” with a mind and a will of his own entered the building at 8:35 a.m. He had the same look on him as Russell Crowe in “Gladiator” as he entered the Coliseum. The plan was to break off at the 3/4 pole if the beast so desired. He declined. This is a prime case of the inmates running the prison but by the time he saw the 5/8 pole he decided to work. He went smoothly throughout in :24.40 and :36.60 and got to the wire under light coaxing in 1.01. He may lose the Derby but it won’t be because he’s undertrained. After he pulled up from his work, he came to a walk and was asked to walk another lap around the main track. I’m starting to believe his toughness and attitude is the stuff Godzilla was made of.

Despite his behavior and lackluster works at Churchill Downs leading up to the Derby, Lani has the best breeding of all the horses in this race and room to improve off of his ninth-place finish in Kentucky Derby 142.
If Lani returns to his previous form in the UAE Derby and presses the pace, I look for him to be competitive and, perhaps, upset at a nice price.

NYQUIST (3-5) is a sire-line descendant of the Grey Sovereign, Nasrullah Ancestral Herd and Nasrullah sired Bold Ruler. As such, Nasrullah is the sire-line foundation stallion for many of the horses running in this race.
Since breaking his maiden last June, Nyquist has won two G2 races and five G1’s including a 3¼ length victory in the Florida Derby (G1) and a 1¼ length win in the Kentucky Derby (G1). Here’s a look at the chart call and video of the Derby and an interactive race sequence from the Blood Horse.

NYQUIST came away in good order, was content to track the pace three deep, took closer order under confident handling leaving the three-eighths pole, overpowered GUN RUNNER soon into the lane, spurted clear while shifting towards the rail in midstretch, kept on under a downturned right handed stick and held EXAGGERATOR at bay.

Nyquist is one of several colts on this year’s Triple Crown trail that were sired by Uncle Mo and like his sire he has a low Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® score. However, Nyquist’s profile score is higher than Uncle Mo’s score and that makes him an upgrade to the Ancestral Herd.
Uncle Mo was undefeated in three starts as a two year old with wins in the Champagne Stakes (G1) and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1) and he was picked as the 2010 Eclipse Champion Two Year Old Colt.
As a three year old, Uncle Mo won the Timely Writer Stakes and finished third in the Wood Memorial Stakes (G1). The Friday before the Kentucky Derby, Uncle Mo was scratched from the race with a mysterious ailment which was later diagnosed as a liver disease called cholangiohepatitis.
The best Uncle Mo could run nine furlongs was third in the Wood Memorial Stakes and it will be interesting to see if Nyquist can extend his competitiveness to 10 furlongs.
If Nyquist runs to his previous form, he’ll be tough be beat in the Preakness.

EXAGGERATOR (3-1) is a sire-line descendant of the Mr. Prospector Ancestral Herd which has been a powerful influence in American classic racing. Since 1990 descendants of that herd have sired 30 Classic Champion Thoroughbreds who have won 41 of the past 78 Triple Crown races for a 53% strike rate.
Exaggerator comes into this race with a 4-3-1 record in 10 starts for trainer Keith Desormeaux including a fast closing second-place finish in the Kentucky Derby (G1). Here’s a look at the chart call and video of the Derby and an interactive race sequence from the Blood Horse.

EXAGGERATOR drafted back off the early pace saving ground, picked up steam into the far turn, angled out and aggressively knifed his way between foes nearing the quarter pole, swung out before being straightened into the stretch, then closed strongly to narrow the gap.

With a C grade rating, Exaggerator is ranked fourth in the Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® chart, but his Behavior Index and Data Mining variables make him competitive in this field. Also, Jockey Kent Desormeaux’s decision to bring Exaggerator from off the pace has been a big plus in that he has closed with authority in his last two races winning the Santa Anita Derby (G1) and finishing second in the Kentucky Derby (G1).
Curlin, the sire of Exaggerator, was an outstanding racehorse that compiled an 11-2-2 record in 16 career starts with $10,501,800 in earnings. Curlin won the 2007 Preakness Stakes (G1), finished second in the Belmont Stakes (G1) and third in the Kentucky Derby (G1). In addition, Curlin won the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1), Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1), twice, Dubai World Cup (G1), Stephen Foster Handicap (G1), Woodward Stakes (G1), and the UAE Jaguar Trophy Handicap.
It remains to be seen if Exaggerator can turn the tables on Nyquist who’s beat him four times in previous races. However, I look for Exaggerator to be competitive in Preakness Stakes (G1) 141.

STRADIVARI (8-1) is a sire-line descendant of the Northern Dancer Ancestral Herd and he comes into the Preakness Stakes (G1) with a 2-0-0 record in three starts for trainer Todd Pletcher. Despite his light seasoning, Stradivari’s won his last two races by a combined 25¾ lengths including a 14-length romp in a nine furlong allowance race at Keeneland on April 17. Here’s the video and chart call of that race:

STRADIVARI settled in hand off of the pace, popped the question with three furlongs to run, took over at will on the second turn, swiftly drew away to score with panache.

The ease in which Stradivari won shows the promise of things to come from this talented colt, despite the fact that many of the horses in that race have low profile scores.
Medaglia d’Oro, the sire of Stradivari, was a good middle-distance runner that compiled an 8-7-0 record in 17 starts with $5,754,720 in career earnings. Overall, he had seven wins and five second-place finishes in 14 route races.
Medaglia d’Oro finished second in his only start as a two year old but as a three year old he won the San Felipe Stakes (G2) and finished second in the Wood Memorial Stakes (G1) in route to the 2002 Derby where he finished in fourth place.
In the Preakness Stakes (G1), Medaglia d’Oro finished eighth but rebounded from that run to finish second in the Belmont Stakes (G1). He went on to complete his racing season as a three year old with wins in the nine furlong Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) and the 10 furlong Travers Stakes (G1).
As a four year old, Medaglia d’Oro won the nine furlong Strub Stakes (G2), Oaklawn Handicap (G2) and Whitney Handicap (G1). In addition, he finished second in the 10 furlong Pacific Classic Stakes (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).
At the age of five, Medaglia d’Oro won the nine furlong Donn Handicap (G1) and finished second in the 10 furlong Emirates Airline Dubai World Cup (G1).
With a B grade rating, Stradivari’s ranked second in the Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® chart and I would not be surprised if he ran close that ranking. Also, in the Behavior Index and Data Mining charts, Stradivari moves up into the top four if Collected fails to run to his high ranking.
Despite his light seasoning, Stadivari has room to improve in his second start of the season. A recent bullet work out could have him primed to run the best race of his career and, perhaps, classic glory.

COLLECTED (10-1) is also a sire-line descendant of the Mr. Prospector Ancestral Herd and he comes into this race with a 4-1-0 record in six starts for Hall of Fame Trainer Bob Baffert including wins in the Sham Stakes (G3), Sunland Festival of Racing Stakes and Lexington Stakes (G3). Here’s the video and chart call of his win in the nine-furlong Sunland Festival of Race:

COLLECTED set the early pace drawing quickly clear, held a safe advantage throughout and proved best.

Collected is ranked sixth in the Classic Champion Thoroughbred Profile® chart and I would not be surprised if he ran close that ranking. When you factor in analysis for the Behavior Index and Data Mining he moves up into the top four. However, time will tell if that ranking is justified.
City Zip, the sire of Collected, ran mostly in sprint races, compiling a 9-5-4 record in 31 starts with $818,225 in career earnings.
As a two year old, City Zip won the Tremont Stakes (G3), Sanford Stakes (G2), Saratoga Special (G2) and the Hopeful Stakes (G1). However, as a three year old on the 2001 Kentucky Derby Trail, his best finish was a third place to Songandaprayer in the 8½-furlong Fountain of Youth Stakes (G1).
Despite his propensity for sprinting, at stud City Zip has sired his share of numerous, good, sprinters as well as several middle-distance runners such as Acting Zippy, Dayatthespa, With a City and Personal Diary.
Collected is a talented colt and a proven competitor. However, I’m not keen on him for the win and I’m curious to see just how far he wants to run.

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