2 Horses Die at Pimilico on Preakness Day

Tragedy at Pimlico as Two Horses Die Prior to Preakness

The rain and gray skies set a somber tone for Saturday’s Preakness Stakes day. And before the biggest race, tragedy struck at Pimlico. Two horses died in the opening four races, and a  jockey was injured in a nasty spill.

Homeboykris collapsed and died following the post race winner's circle presentation
Homeboykris collapsed and died following the post race winner’s circle presentation

In the opening race of the day, 9-year-old Homeboykris, a Maryland-bred gelding, collapsed and died after winning and having his picture taken in the winner’s circle. Track officials believe the 9-year-old gelding suffered cardiovascular collapse.

The son of Homeboykris’ trainer Francis Campitelli tweeted: “Devastating loss. Homeboykris hasn’t taken a bad step since we’ve had him. Owner claimed him to assure he went to good home after race career. Freak accident.”

Homeboykris ran in the 2010 Kentucky Derby, finishing in 16th place at 50-1 odds. He is partly owned by Joe Torre, a Major League Baseball executive and a Hall of Fame manager. Homeboykris won 14 of 63 lifetime races with earning in excess of $560,000.

Pramedya, a 4-year old filly making just her fifth career start, broke down around the turn and tumbled to the ground in the fourth race, sending jockey Daniel Centeno to the turf. Pimlico racing officials said Pramedya was euthanized on the track after breaking her front left leg. Centeno was driven off in ambulance and suffered a broken collarbone.

Pramedya was owned by Roy and Gretchen Jackson of Lael Stable, who had previously owned Barbaro, the Kentucky Derby champion who was injured 10 years ago at the Preakness and eventually had to be euthanized.

According to a New York Times article from 2012, 24 horses die each week at racetracks in the United States. PETA released a statement on Saturday calling for the immediate release of the horses’ veterinary records and a list of any medications they were given in the two weeks leading up to their races.

“Studies — and our own investigations — have shown that most breakdowns and deaths occur because horses have pre-existing injuries that are masked by the excessive use of legal medications. We want to know if that is what happened in the cases of Pramedya and Homeboykris,” said PETA senior vice president Kathy Guillermo.

“We have been advocating for no medications to be administered to horses in the two weeks before a race so that if a horse is sore or ill, the track veterinarian will be able to detect it,” the statement continued. “In today’s racing drug culture, at least three horses are dying every day on U.S. tracks. The foolish use of muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatory drugs, and other medications must end now.”

Exaggerator wins 2016 Preakness Stakes

Exaggerator Wins 2016 Preakness Stakes, Nyquist Third

The slop doctor is in.

Exaggerator won the muddiest 2016 Preakness Stakes, proving to everyone that he’s just as good as his heated rival. The Desormeaux protegé repeated his incredible Santa Anita Derby performance, which was also buried in the muck. Handicappers all day had promoted Exaggerator as the horse to beat considering the downpour that sloshed Pimlico Field. And the three-year old proved them to be right.

Barrelling down the home stretch, Nyquist took the lead over Uncle Lino who had led the way for much of the race. It seemed like destiny was just in reach for the Reddam Racing product and trianer Doug O’Neill, who were looking to repeat the dual win that I’ll Have Another had produced a few years ago. But Nyquist struggled as the slow conditions took a toll on him. Guittierez let him up as Exaggerator took over to win the 2016 Preakness Stakes.

Exaggerator took the win at 5/2, while Nyquist finished third at 3/5, a number he opened and started with. Cherry Wine was the surprise of the day, coming through as a 20/1 longshot in second place as he edged a fading Nyquist by a nose. New shooter Stradivari also lived up to the hype somewhat, finishing fourth at 8/1.

This is a huge triumph for Exaggerator, who been bested by Nyquist in four previous meetings. Most recently, Exaggerator placed second at the Kentucky Derby. The two also met at their debut in 2015, and once again at the San Vicente Stakes in February. It had been a lopsided rivalry up until this point, but now the battle is getting really interesting with the 2016 Preakness Stakes going to Exaggerator.

It’s certainly a disappointing “what if” type of finish. Many will say that Nyquist could have bested his rival if the track was more to his favor. And we’ll find out when the two go head-to-head once again in a few weeks at the Belmont Stakes.


Go Maggie Go

Go Maggie Go Seizes Black-Eyed Susan

While everyone patiently awaits for the 141st running of the Preakness Stakes, a strong three-year old filly class took to Pimlico on Friday night to run the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes. Go Maggie Go dazzled the crowd with a fantastic result that continues the trend of outside shots claiming big wins for the female age grade. It was also a massive day for trainer Dale Romans.

“She just took it to them and won the race; she was pressed by a quality filly,” Romans cheered after the win. “I think she’s one of the best fillies I’ve ever had. I don’t know where the top is on her.” It’s certainly easy to be elated when you win, but Romans also slotted 50/1 longshot Ma Can Do It in as the second place finisher.

Even still, Romans continued to give Go Maggie Go glowing reviews. “This is a different filly,” Romans said. “I knew she was special and that she could handle it. She’s just a big, massive filly that needs some time. She got a late start in life. She’s going to let you do things wrong and she’ll make them right. If you’ll wait on Ghostzappers, they’ll pay you back. She just had 2-year-old stuff; she had a little shins and just took some time, and when she started getting good she just got better.”

Jockey Luis Saez revelled in the finish as well. It was a massive difference compared to the Kentucky Oaks trip the pair took just two weeks ago. “When she broke from the gate (in the Kentucky Oaks), she got a little bothered, and then we came from way back and she made a big move, but we lost a lot of ground,” Saez commented. “Today she got a nice trip. I didn’t want to be in that position, but when we came to the first turn I was right there and I had to let her run.”

Go Maggie Go returned a handsome $5.60, $3.60 and $.300 as the second favorite at 9/5. Ma Can Do It was the cash cow of the day with a $31.40 and $15.00 reward to place. Kinsley Kisses showed at third for $4.60 at 5/1.

It was a disappointing and heartbreaking finish for Land Over Sea, the biggest bridesmaid of the season. She had finished second in three races this year, with a win at the Fair Grounds Oaks packed in between. As the Kentucky Oaks runner up, she entered as the 8-5 preference of the oddsmakers, but failed to finish the race after a rough start. It’s been an absolutely crushing season for Land Over Sea. I’d be shocked if the filly hadn’t earned some long, overdue rest by now.

Go Maggie Go is your first, big winner at Pimlico Race Course to kickstart this weekend. Who will join her in the winner’s circle?

The Preakness Stakes will run tomorrow on Saturday, May 21st at 6:40pm EST on NBC. We will have complete, live coverage through you throughout the day so stay tuned!

Stradivari Gaining Steam at Preakness

Lightly-Raced Stradivari Has the Speed to Prevail in the Preakness

The momentum seems to be building for Stradivari, who has the speed to challenge Nyquist and potentially prevail at the Preakness. But as he and 10 other ponies prepare for a wet track at the Preakness, the pace and speed of the race along with the sloppy surface is going to play a big part in determining this year’s winner.

Last year the weather did nearly nothing to slow down American Pharoah as he romped home by 7-lengths in the slop to win the Preakness Stakes. Stradivari brings intrigue and speed as a potential Preakness surprise. He has sensational speed, and while the pace up front is expected to be contested, it’s possible another improved effort on the front-end could be even more beneficial to winning on a sloppy surface.

Stradivari blew away his rivals in his last two races winning by better than 11 and 14 lengths. But of most interest were his Equibase Speed Figures of 91 and then 112 in his last race after a four month layoff. Nyquist had an Equibase Speed Rating of 107, 108 and 108 in his last three races. Hall of Fame rider John Velezquez has the experience that his colt lacks, and if he can’t get right to the lead from the far outside post at the first turn, then he should settle in nicely behind the leaders. The risk is the weather and how Stradivari handles the off track and deals with mud being kicked at him if he’s stalking off the pace.

Many things can happen and factor into a horse race, and even tragedy can strike like it did at the 2006 Preakness when Barbaro shattered his leg at the start of the race ending his racing career and eventually leading to his death. But as the race continued, another lighly-raced 3-year old with just three races to his credit pulled away impressively as a 12-1 shot and won the Preakness by 5-lengths. That newcomer and winner was Bernardini, and this year’s Preakness has a eerily similar feeling with Stradivari looking like a potential surprise winner. 

Nyquist and Company Ready for Preakness

Tomorrow is the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), and Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner/Triple Crown hopeful Nyquist is good to go after another day of training. Since arriving at Pimlico Race Course days after his Derby win, the undefeated and calm Nyquist has been in training mode preparing to take down the second leg of the Triple Crown.

Yesterday morning was Nyquist’s final pre-race gallop and his trainer Doug O’Neill was pleased with the session under exercise rider Jonny Garcia. Nyquist hit the track at around 8:30 AM EST with assistant trainer Jack Sisterson in company on Satire the pony. A loose horse on the track caused a disturbance, but he was quickly apprehended.

“We’re very happy,” said O’Neill. “Nyquist had great energy and looked real loose, and he galloped really well. So we’re very, very happy the way the morning went. Tomorrow’s going to be a very easy morning. We’re feeling very optimistic about Saturday. He was pretty good before the Derby and he’s pretty good now. …We had five weeks to prepare from the Florida Derby to the Kentucky Derby, now it’s a quick turnaround, but he’s showing all signs that he’s good as ever.”

“I’m very, very optimistic,” said jockey Mario Gutierrez. “Watching him gallop today, it’s hard not to get confident. We’re going into the race with a lot of confidence. I have nothing but great memories from Balitmore and the Preakness in 2012. Being able to come back with the kind of horse that I’m coming back with, it’s a lot of joy. I’m coming here with a heavy favorite, and that makes me really happy.”


Is Stradivari The Next Danzing Candy?

All of the news circulating about the 2016 Preakness Stakes revolves around Nyquist for obvious reasons. His biggest threat on paper remains Exaggerator, who came second at a thrilling Kentucky Derby two weeks ago. But a new horse named Stradivari has emerged on the Triple Crown circuit, and he’s a sudden third-favorite heading in to this weekend’s big race.

The Todd Pletcher trainee has been working diligently late in to the first-half of the year, and his numbers have been very impressive. “He’s a horse that we’ve thought a lot of for quite a while, so it was sort of in the back of our minds leading up to the allowance race that hopefully bigger things were to come,” Pletcher said. “We were expecting a good effort but that even exceeded our expectations. Once he did that and came out of it well the Preakness became a consideration.”

Now locked in at the outside post, Stradivari is holding daring 8/1 odds which would almost seem ludicrous if there wasn’t a context for his entry in to the Preakness Stakes. Stradivari has already ran a 1 1/16th mile in 1:48.00 flat, a time that straight up rivals what Nyquist posted at the Florida Derby with a time of 1:49.11.

Beyond that, Stradivari has also been clocked at 1:44.08 during a 1 1/16th mile  in an allowance last December. The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile is stretched over that same distance, and Nyquist won the event last year in a time of 1:43.79.

So the bottom line is that Stradivari has blazing speed. We’ve seen a fresh horse stun the field at another event this season in the form of Danzing Candy, who blistered the San Felipe Stakes ahead of the preferred choices of Mor Spirit and Exaggerator. Danzing Candy posted a brilliant, wire-to-wire lead that saw him flash his competitive fire and cutthroat pace. A similar effort could be within the newcomer to the Triple Crown circuit.

While a straight up win by Nyquist remains the best bet at 3/5, there’s no doubt that Stradivari is sure to garner some interest. I wouldn’t be deterred by his draw of the eleventh gate. If he has the true speed that he’s posted in allowance and maiden races over the past two years, then he’s as legitimate of a threat as any to upset Nyquist’s bid for a Triple Crown.

Let’s not forget that Danzing Candy was a brute in the Kentucky Derby as well, despite falling way short at a muddy Santa Anita Derby that didn’t play to his strengths. Danzing Candy led for much of the derby before being overshot by the eventual four leaders. He would burn out and fall to 15th, but the Churchill Downs classic is the longest race that most of these three-year olds will ever challenge. The slightly shorter Preakness gives Stradivari a chance at an upset even with so much inexperience against a top flight field.

A stunning win would also give Todd Pletcher his first win at the Preakness Stakes.

Don’t fall asleep on this horse just yet.

Preakness Notes and Quotes From Trainers

A Wet and Rainly Preakness Looks Likely and Trainers Chime In

It appears the rain will in fact play a part in Saturday’s 141st running of the Preakness Stakes, but an off track is still no worry for Nyquist’s trainer Doug O’Neil. A better than 90% chance of rain is in the forecast as favorite Nyquist tries to outrun 10 others in the mud, just as American Pharoah did in winning by 7-lengths in the slop in last year’s Preakness.

Following Wednesday’s post draw and odds, trainers provided some additional insight and quotes. Here are some from noted trainers and contenders

#1: Cherry Wine (20-1) – trainer Dale Romans

Romans: “Cherry Wine is one of those horses where he’s probably not the best horse, but he’s opportunistic.  My horse loves the mud. If it comes up rainy and wet, he could run a huge race.”

“My jockey, Corey Lanerie, loves to come up the fence. It’s a good spot with him riding the horse. He never panics; he stays down in there just like I like.”.

#2: Uncle Lino (20-1) – trainer Gary Sherlock

Sherlock:  “I would have rather been outside of Nyquist, but it is what it is. Being inside, he’s (Uncle Lino) probably going to go to the front now. If he’d drawn outside we’d have had a few more choices.”

“I’m hoping Uncle Lino moves forward and that coming back in two weeks takes its toll on the others (that ran in the Kentucky Derby on May 7).”

#3: Nyquist (3-5) – trainer Doug O’Neil

O’Neill:  “I think we’re going to leave there running and just kind of play it by ear. If they’re not showing a lot of pace, we’re going to make it. If it’s hot and heavy, (jockey) Mario (Gutierrez) has shown and Nyquist has shown that they can sit off a hot and heavy pace.”

“If there are two, three speed horses who go, we have the luxury of settling in third or fourth,” O’Neill said. “If they don’t go, we can take it to them.”

“If he continues to train the way he is and he stays injury free and he gets a good, clean trip, we’re just very optimistic he’s going to be tough to beat on Preakness Day,” O’Neill said

#5: Exaggerator (3-1) – trainer Keith Desormeaux

Desormeaux: “[The post position] doesn’t matter. With our running style, it’s inconsequential. [Kent] going to take back or get him to relax right out of the gate, so it really doesn’t matter. Being that Nyquist is speed-oriented, he’ll probably get pressed from the outside, which may make him go a little bit faster. I guess that’s tactically advantageous to us.”

#7: Collected (10-1) – trainer Bob Baffert

Baffert: “It’s a good post. If you have a speed horse, it’s a good post. The break is going to be so important, especially if it’s muddy.”

“He’s fast. He’s won on turf and dirt, which makes him an exceptional horse. The only bad race he had was in the Southwest (G3), where he got away slow.”

#11: Stradivari (8-1) – trainer Todd Pletcher

Pletcher: “You’ve got a good run to the turn so you never feel like anyone’s as concerned with the post positions at the Preakness as they are at the Derby. I’m happy with it. He’s generally a good gate horse and that gives (jockey) Johnny (Velazquez) the ability to break and survey things inside and see where he wants to hopefully position him going into the first turn. I think the most interesting thing is going to be how the track is playing and what the track conditions are like with the forecasted rain.

“He’s got a small body of work but his last two races, in particular his last race at Keeneland, were visually very impressive performances.”

The Preakness broadcast kicks off on Saturday, May 21 on NBCSN at 2:30 pm with undercard stakes races, switching to NBC at 5 pm for the Preakness Stakes, with a post time of 6:45 pm.

Preakness Stakes Draw

2016 Preakness Stakes Draw Revealed

Nyquist has drawn the third post in a field of 11 horses for the 2016 Preakness Stakes, giving him an optimal line at this Saturday’s race. It’s also worth pointing out – since most of you are going to bet on him – that Nyquist is also a 3/5 preference by the oddsmakers. The full Preakness Stakes draw is listed below.

Exaggerator comes in as the second favorite at 3/1 after serving as the runner-up to Nyquist for the second time in his career. The Desormeaux ridden and trained contender also trailed the leading three-year old at the San Vicente Stakes. They have competed four times against one another, and it goes without saying that the undefeated Nyquist has his number.

The relatively unknown Stradivari out of Todd Pletcher’s camp received the outside post in the Preakness Stakes draw, and carries 8/1 odds as the third favorite. Sired by Medaglia d’Oro, Stradivari is 2-0-0 in three allowance races, finishing fourth in his debut as well. It will be curious to see if he can make the most of the outside lane.

Lani leads the longshots after a 9th place finish at the Kentucky Derby. He will be squeezed between Collected in the 7th gate and the previously mentioned Exaggerator. The Kentucky-born and Japanese trained contender is one of four horses carrying 30/1 odds. Awesome Speed, Abiding Star, Fellowship and Laboan also share the same number.

Collected came out of the Preakness Stakes draw with a favorable post and is a standalone outside shot at 10/1 with Cherry Wine and Uncle Lino drawing the inside gates at 20/1.

The 2016 Preakness Stakes will run on Saturday, May 21st. To get your wagering in, head over to our preferred betting partner at Twinspires.com!

2016 Preakness Stakes Draw and Odds

Post Horse Jockey Trainer Odds
1 Cherry Wine Corey Lanerie Dale Romans 20-1
2 Uncle Lino Fernando Perez Gary Sherlock 20-1
3 Nyquist Mario Gutierrez Doug O’Neill 3-5
4 Awesome Speed Jevian Toledo Alan Goldberg 30-1
5 Exaggerator Kent Desormeaux Keith Desormeaux 3-1
6 Lani Yutaka Take Mikio Matsunaga 30-1
7 Collected Javier Castellano Bob Baffert 10-1
8 Laoban Florent Geroux Eric Guillot 30-1
9 Abiding Star J.D. Acosta Ned Allar 30-1
10 Fellowship Jose Lezcano Mark Casse 30-1
11 Stradivari John Velazquez Todd Pletcher 8-1
Abiding Star

Abiding Star Gets Preakness Green Light

The 2016 Preakness Stakes is still searching for a probably upset specialist, and one may have just emerged. Abiding Star is on route to Pimlico to take part in the second leg of the Triple Crown on May 19th for race on Saturday. It’s a quick turnaround, but one that was necessary given the circumstance.

An equine quarantine was placed on Parx Racing in Pennsylvania. That restriction has recently been lifted, allowing Abiding Star to run free this coming weekend. It’s great news for a horse that has star potential given his pedigree.

“I felt quite confident that was going to happen, but hey, stranger things have gone on,” trainer Ned Allard regarding the good news. “So often you take chances with horses that haven’t really done anything that special but won one or two races, but this horse has got a lot of confidence in himself. He’s coming off a string of good races, winning races, and I’m sure his confidence level is about as high as it’s going to get. Now you need the talent, never mind the confidence.”

Coincidentally, Abiding Star is a son of Uncle Mo who also sired Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist.

Owned by Stonhedge Racing and trained by Kevin Rice, this three-year old colt enters the Preakness Stakes with a five-race winning streak through the year. He has won the Parx Derby and Private Terms, while also winning a couple allowance and a claiming race. This will be his first appearance in a grade-one stakes challenge.

There’s no telling what he’s capable of, but Abiding Star’s connections are more than willing to role the dice. “If the only horses that ran were (odds of) 8-5, racing would be a little boring. We’re going to take our chances and see if he can face the monsters.”


Gun Runner

Gun Runner Officially Out For Preakness

The horse with the most points from the derby trail will not be running in the second leg of the Triple Crown. Steven Asmussen and the connections for Gun Runner have decided that the Louisiana Derby winner will forgo the Preakness Stakes, which is unfortunate for a field that is already heavy at the top without much meat in the middle.

“We’re going to pass on the Preakness,” Asmussen said by teleconference. “We’re going to continue to train at Churchill and plan on a serious summer of 3-year-old races with him. He’s been in tremendous physical condition going into the derby and coming out of it, and we expect for him to continue to physically develop.”

This also hints that Gun Runner is likely to skip the Belmont Stakes as well.

The Kentucky Derby itself was a marvelous effort for the son of Candy Ride. Heading in to the final turn, Gun Runner had done what he’d always done by finding the best line through traffic. He showed at third while posting as the third-favorite in a race that eventually went chalk. Even fourth place mention Mohaymen was listed as such on the board before the race went off. If you’ve been hiding under a rock, Nyquist and Exaggerator finished first and second.

Those two will wage war in the 2016 Preakness Stakes on Saturday, May 21st in what’s become the three-year old rivalry to watch. Many people had elected to back Gun Runner as a special, outside shot considering how well we picked out lines at both the Risen Star Stakes and the Louisiana Derby, both run at Fair Grounds. Weaving in-between other competitors isn’t an easy trait to find in a horse, and while Gun Runner may not have true championship speed, that talent alone will make him a strong breeding choice for many looking to produce a contender.

For now, it’s a wait and see game with Gun Runner as he rests up from a glorious derby performance. In the mean time, the horse’s he lost out to at Churchill Downs will take center stage yet again without the threat of this talented gem.