Such was the case two weeks ago, where I keyed long-shot Shagaf in my Derby wagers but still came out ahead in hitting back-up Oaks-Derby double and Derby trifecta bets by using Nyquist as well.
The Black-Eyed Susan/Preakness double poses a similar scenario, where Nyquist appears to be a shoe-in to go for the Triple Crown in three weeks in the Belmont Stakes.
Save for Cherry Wine, the "new shooters" (non-Derby horses) are unappealing, and with Exaggerator 0-for-4 against Nyquist, he's an underneath horse on my tickets until proving otherwise.
Regardless of conditions, Nyquist is the classiest 3-year-old of the bunch and both can handle a wet track (Saturday's forecast for Pimlico is grim) and either win on or just off the pace.
Drawn inside the "need-the-lead" types, I sense Mario Gutierrez can use Nyquist's tactical speed to either place forwardly or force the outer flow even wider out on the track, similar to Victor Espinoza's astute ride in California Chrome's 2014 Preakness victory, and make it to the finish line first.
Nyquist will be a "single" for me in allocating a small bankroll to the Friday-Saturday card.
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Contrary to my view that the Derby runners in Saturday's Preakness will maintain their form against middling rivals, I have doubts about the two Black-Eyed Susan favorites (based on first odds) winning -- Land Over Sea (#3, 2-to-1) and Go Maggie Go (#5, 5-to-2).
Cathryn Sophia exposed these horses in the Kentucky Oaks as a lesser cut, in my opinion, and the short turnaround (two weeks) between Grade 1 stakes races poses the potential that the odds maker's choices could fall flat on Friday afternoon (4:50 p.m. ET post time; NBCSN coverage starts 3 p.m.).
In a 14-horse (scheduled) field where two runners have yet to win a race and a third won twice exclusively by disqualification, the Black-Eyed Susan screams long-shot.
Mom's On Strike makes sense at 15-to-1
The primary concern is that Friday represents Mom's first race against winners -- the equivalent of winning your club pro championship in golf or tennis and next finding yourself in match play versus Jordan Spieth or Roger Federer. The jump from "maiden" victory to Grade 2 stakes is huge, but video replays suggest this horse has a world of hope to pick up the pieces late on Friday.
And none of the opponents are of the caliber of Messrs. Spieth or Federer.
A lightly-raced filly, Mom's On Strike got her first victory in her second lifetime race at Oaklawn Park on April 16 and stalked a slow pace before wearing down the leader. The speed figures were nothing to write home about, but her prior effort on debut at Fairgrounds on March 17 was far more impressive and telling, in my opinion.
Mom's On Strike ran third that afternoon against eight other non-winners in a six-furlong sprint, but she was bumped very hard a half-dozen times out of the gate and settled so far back before missing a second-place finish by a neck.
The winner of that race came back with a decent effort against a good allowance field at Keeneland, beaten by a horse from trainer Joe Sharp's barn; Sharp is the trainer of Mom's On Strike.
Generally I am not a big "gallop out" proponent, but the race replay gives a clear indication that the horse wanted to continue running, as evidenced on April 16, and could prove a late factor in a Black-Eyed Susan where I sense the pace will be modest and no one else jumps off the racing form.
To recap, here's where I'm likely to wager on the Black-Eyed Susan:
- $10 Black-Eyed Susan-Preakness double: Mom's on Strike (14) with Nyquist (3)
- Black-Eyed Susan exacta and trifecta box key: Mom's on Strike (14) with Dothraki Queen (2), Land Over Sea (3) and Go Maggie Go (5)
Consistent with my Derby handicapping, here's a list of positions where I think certain horses could finish first through fourth, but anticipate maybe just a small trifecta or superfecta wager and reserve judgement on Saturday's forecast before determining bankroll; my range is $50-$100 in total.
- 1 -- Nyquist (3)
- 2 -- Cherry Wine (1), Exaggerator (5)
- 3 -- Cherry Wine (1), Exaggerator (5), Fellowship (10)
- 4 -- Cherry Wine (1), Exaggerator (5), Lani (6), Collected (7), Fellowship (10)
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