2016 PREAKNESS STAKES CONTENDERS
POST POSITION 3 - A bay son of multiple Grade 1 winner and 2010 champion 2-year-old male Uncle Mo, Nyquist kept his perfect record intact by racing near the lead before opening daylight in the stretch and holding off Exaggerator to win the 142nd Kentucky Derby May 7.
The Derby was the eighth win in as many starts for Nyquist, who became the first undefeated horse to capture the first jewel of the Triple Crown with as many victories since Majestic Prince in 1969.
Nyquist was perfect in five starts as a juvenile, earning more than $1.6 million in purses and culiminating with an Eclipse Award as the 2-year-old male champion of 2015. He debuted with a head victory going five furlongs at Santa Anita before a 5 ¼-length score in the Best Pal (G2) in just his second start.
From there he reeled off three consecutive Grade 1 victories over arch-rival Swipe in the Del Mar Futurity, FrontRunner and Breeders' Cup Juvenile, the latter by a half-length following a wide trip in his first try outside of California.
Given a winter break, Nyquist returned to hold off Kentucky Derby rival Exaggerator by 1 ½ lengths in the seven-furlong San Vicente (G2) Feb. 15. In one of the most hyped Derby prep races in recent memory, he went gate-to-wire to beat previously undefeated Mohaymen in the April 2 Florida Derby.
POST POSITION 5 - Two weeks after coming up 1 ¼ lengths shy of undefeated Nyquist in the Kentucky Derby (G1), Exaggerator comes to Old Hilltop looking to turn the tables in the Preakness.
A dark bay or brown son of two-time Horse of the Year Curlin, Exaggerator has yet to beat Nyquist in three tries, also running second in the seven-furlong San Vicente (G2) in the season opener for both horses, and fourth, beaten three lengths, in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) last fall.
Exaggerator won three of six starts at 2, taking the Saratoga Special (G2) in his third career race and stakes debut last August, and capping his juvenile campaign with a neck victory in the Delta Downs Jackpot (G3) in November.
This year, Exaggerator also finished third in the San Felipe (G2) and romped in the slop to a 6 ¼-length score in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) before his try in the Derby, where he overcame traffic trouble from post 11 and came flying late to finish second.
Cherry Wine 20-1
POST POSITION 1 - Entered but unable to make the starting gate as the second also-eligible for the Kentucky Derby, Cherry Wine is set to take aim instead at the second jewel of the Triple Crown.
A gray or roan son of Paddy O'Prado, who finished third in the Derby and sixth in the Preakness in 2010, Cherry Wine is making his third straight start in stakes company and looking for his first win outside maiden and allowance ranks.
Following an impressive 1 1/16-mile optional claiming allowance victory by six lengths Jan. 9 at Gulfstream Park to kick off his 3-year-old campaign, Cherry Wine finished fourth in the Rebel (G2) at Oaklawn Park March 19 and third in the Blue Grass (G1) at Keeneland April 9, his most recent start.
Cherry Wine ran four times at three different tracks to open his career last year before breaking through with a 9 ¼-length maiden triumph in the slop last November at Churchill Downs to close his juvenile campaign.
POST POSITION 8 - Unable to draw into the Kentucky Derby as the first alternate entry, speedy front-running Laoban was pointed to the Preakness where he figures to be an early pace presence.
The Preakness will be the sixth lifetime start for Laoban, each coming at different tracks in California, New York and Kentucky. The dark bay or brown son of Uncle Mo is still seeking his first win.
Though without a victory, Laoban has made his last three starts in graded stakes. He ran third behind fellow Preakness new shooter Collected in the Sham (G3) Jan. 9 to open his 3-year-old season, and set the pace in the March 5 Gotham (G3) before finishing second to Shagaf.
Most recently, Laoban led the way again in the 1 1/8-mile Blue Grass (G1) April 9 at Keeneland after being unprepared at the start, fading to fourth behind Brody's Cause, My Man Sam - each of whom went on to the Derby - and Preakness contender Cherry Wine.
Pronounced `lay-ban,' the name Laoban means `boss' in Mandarin, Chinese.
POST POSITION 7 - Already a multiple graded stakes winner in just six career starts, Collected will try Grade 1 company for the first time in the Preakness.
A chestnut son of City Zip and grandson of Johannesburg, both Grade 1 winners, Collected enters the Preakness on a two-race win streak. He captured the Sunland Park Festival of Racing Stakes March 20 and came back with an impressive four-length score in the Lexington (G3) April 16 at Keeneland.
Collected ran twice at 2, both times on the grass, winning his debut last October at Santa Anita before finishing second in the Cecil B. DeMille (G3) at Del Mar. He rolled to a 1 ¼-length victory in his first try on dirt, the one-mile Sham (G3) Jan. 9 to open his sophomore season.
In his next start, the Southwest (G3) at Oaklawn Park, Collected raced in striking position along the inside and remained in contention on the outside into the far turn before for fourth behind eventual Kentcuky Derby runners Suddenbreakingnews and Whitmore.
POST POSITION 10- A hard-trying chestnut son of Awesome of Course, Fellowship heads to the Preakness off a fourth-place finish in the Pat Day Mile (G3), contested on the undercard of the Kentucky Derby (G1) May 7.
Late-running Fellowship has finished in the money in eight of his 12 career starts, the last 11 of them in stakes, following his debut victory last May. He broke through with an eye-catching 4 ½-length victory in the Florida Sire In Reality Stakes last fall at Gulfstream Park, finishing his juvenile campaign running second in the Juvenile Sprint and Smooth Air, both at Gulfstream Park West.
Back at his home base of Gulfstream under previous trainer Stanley Gold, Fellowship opened 2016 finishing fifth in the Mucho Macho Man Stakes Jan. 2 before closing to be third behind then-unbeaten Mohaymen in both the Holy Bull (G2) Jan. 30 and the Fountain of Youth (G2) Feb. 27, and again to Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist in the Florida Derby (G1) April 2.
Fellowship is attempting to become the eighth Florida-bred to win the Preakness and the first since Afleet Alex's dramatic victory in 2005.
Uncle Lino 20-1
POST POSITION 2 - Having raced exclusively in California through his first seven starts, Uncle Lino became a consideration for the Preakness after his front-running half-length victory in the 1 1/16-mile California Chrome Stakes April 30 at Los Alamitos Race Course.
Named for the uncle of co-owner Tom Mansor, Uncle Lino debuted running second in a Del Mar maiden race last July but emerged with a hind end issue that kept him from racing until late November, graduating with a 2 ¾-length score going 6 ½ furlongs.
Relocated to Santa Anita to begin his 3-year-old year Uncle Lino was third, beaten a neck, in his first try against winners Jan. 3. He stalked and then took the lead before giving way late to Mor Spirit in his stakes debut, the Robert B. Lewis (G3) Feb. 6.
Uncle Lino was again near the front when stepped up to Grade 1 company for the Santa Anita Derby, but was bumped at the quarter pole and wound up third behind Kentucky Derby runner-up Exaggerator and Mor Spirit, 4 ¾ lengths clear of the rest of the field.
Awesome Speed 30-1
POST POSITION 4 - Multiple stakes winner Awesome Speed earned a fees-paid entry to the Preakness by virtue of his victory in the April 9 Federico Tesio Stakes, Maryland's traditional prep designated for the first time in 2016 as a `Win and You're In' event for the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.
In the 1 1/8-mile Tesio, Awesome Speed carried the field from the gate into deep stretch where he was bumped by Governor Malibu and wound up beaten a nose for second. He was promoted to first when Governor Malibu was disqualified for interference.
The Tesio was the third stakes win for Awesome Speed and second in Maryland following the James F. Lewis III Stakes last fall at Laurel Park to close his juvenile season. Three of Awesome Speed's four career wins have come at Laurel, including a maiden victory last October.
Awesome Speed stretched his win streak to three races with a front-running 1 ¼-length score in the Jan. 2 Mucho Macho Man Stakes at Gulfstream Park. He returned in the Fountain of Youth (G2), his only previous try against graded company, but lost all chance when slammed on the first turn and wound up fourth.
POST POSITION 6 - A stakes-winning colt that has challenged his connections with poor starts and occasionally temperamental behavior, Lani exits the Kentucky Derby where he broke slowly and was bumped early, made a move on the far outside and closed to be ninth in what was his North American debut.
Lani, out of Grade 1-winning sire Tapit, was bred in Kentucky but made his first five starts in Japan, debuting at last fall at 1 ¼ miles. He won two races six days apart in November including the one-mile Cattleya Sho Stakes last fall to cap his juvenile season.
He opened 2016 running fifth in the Hyacinth Stakes, also at one mile, Feb. 21 in Japan before traveling to Dubai to compete on the World Cup program at Meydan. There, he overcame another poor start to win the UAE Derby (G2), run at the Preakness distance of 1 3/16 miles, by three-quarters of a length.
Lani has drawn attention for the Japanese style of training, with long gallops on the track mixed with intervals of short, faster sprints. He is looking to be the first horse to win the UAE Derby and the Preakness.
POST POSITION 11 - An eye-opening winner of his last two races, Stradivari will be making his stakes debut in the Preakness, just his fourth lifetime start and second this year. Stradivari is a son of Medaglia d'Oro, a multiple Grade 1 winner that ran eighth in the 2002 Preakness but rebounded to win the Travers (G1) and run second in the Belmont Stakes (G1) and Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) that year and was also second in the 2003 Classic.
It wasn't until last November that Stradivari made his race debut, finishing fourth in a seven-furlong maiden special weight at Aqueduct Racetrack. Less than a month later, he graduated with an 11 ¼-length romp going 1 1/16 miles at Gulfstream Park, a race where he was entered for main track only and drew in when it was rained off the turf.
Following that effort, Stradivari wasn't seen again until rolling by 14 ½ lengths in a 1 1/8-mile allowance event April 17 at Keeneland, a performance that immediately put the Preakness on his radar.
Stradivari will attempt to follow Constitution and Materiality, similarly late-developing horses also trained by Todd Pletcher that made their stakes debuts by winning the Florida Derby (G1) in 2014 and 2015, respectively.
Abiding Star 30-1
POST POSITION 9 - Winless in six starts as a 2-year-old, Abiding Star has yet to lose since turning 3 with five straight victories including three consecutive stakes.
A bay son of Uncle Mo, Abiding Star has steadily climbed the ranks since breaking his maiden on New Year's Day 2016 at Laurel Park. He came back to win a Feb. 29 allowance at Parx before returning to Laurel to take the Private Terms March 12 in his stakes debut.
Following that race, the connections of Abiding Star paid $6,000 to make him a late nomination to the Triple Crown with the Preakness in mind. An outbreak of the equine herpesvirus at Parx in April prevented any horses from leaving or entering the grounds, and he was unable to make an anticipated start in the April 9 Federico Tesio at Laurel, a `Win and You're In' event for the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.
Abiding Star ran twice during the quarantine period, winning an optional claiming allowance April 12 by 8 ¾ lengths over favored Nasa and the Parx Derby May 7 by 1 ¾ lengths as the heavy favorite.