Sadly, there will be no Triple Crown attempt at this year’s Belmont Stakes in New York in a couple of weeks and there aren’t any betting odds on the race yet because the field isn’t clear. But it looks as if the great rivalry between Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist and Preakness winner Exaggerator will continue at the June 11 Belmont. They will be the two heavy online sports betting favorites.
A Look at the 2016 Belmont Stakes Early Betting Odds Overview
— NBC Sports Radio (@NBCSportsRadio) May 23, 2016
On Saturday in the slop at the Preakness at Pimlico, Exaggerator outran Cherry Wine, who finished second, and Nyquist, who was third, to win the Preakness on a rain-soaked track and end Nyquist’s bid for a Triple Crown. In four previous races, Exaggerator had failed to get by Nyquist. The son of Uncle Mo beat the offspring of Curlin in a maiden race last June at Santa Anita and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, along with the San Vicente and Kentucky Derby this year. That was nothing to be ashamed of — Nyquist was the reigning 2-year-old champion, and he rolled into the 141st running of the Preakness Stakes undefeated in eight races.
Nyquist broke early to set a strong pace on Saturday. Uncle Lino held the quarter-mile lead, but Nyquist retook the lead in the back stretch. Exaggerator, ridden by jockey Kent Desormeaux, was as far back as 13 lengths, but began making a move in the back stretch. Coming out of the final turn, Exaggerator rode the rail as Uncle Lino and Nyquist battled for the lead. In the stretch, Exaggerator took the lead. Nyquist broke to the outside but was unable to catch up. Exaggerator clearly relishes the rain, having also won the Santa Anita Derby on a sloppy track. Exaggerator’s pedigree may have helped, too. His sire, Curlin, won the 2007 Preakness and was beaten by a head in the Belmont, but went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Exaggerator jockey Desormeaux has two second-place finishes and two third-place finishes at the Belmont Stakes, plus a 2009 win at the track aboard Summer Bird on his resume.
Both horses already have stud deals locked up, but more races between the two would settle a lingering question about Exaggerator’s win in the mud: Was it down to the track or the horse? Many thought that Nyquist, after suffering the first loss of his career in nine starts, was going to take a little time to recover, but trainer Doug O’Neill said he is taking the horse to New York to run in the Belmont Stakes.
Though the field could branch out to as many as 16 contenders at the starting gate, the likes of Preakness runner-up Cherry Wine, owner Koji Maeda’s Lani, trainer Todd Pletcher’s Destin, Suddenbreakingnews, and Brody’s Cause are pointing towards the Belmont. But the Belmont isn’t a possibility for Gun Runner, who ran third in the Derby and passed on the Preakness Stakes.
This is the first time in three years that no Triple Crown is on the line at the Belmont. Of course American Pharoah won it last year. The Belmont is the longest of the three Triple Crown races at 1 1/2 miles and that would seem to favor Exaggerator, who was closing fast at the Kentucky Derby but came up short. The colt will attempt to become the first horse to win the second and third legs of the Triple Crown since Afleet Alex in 2005. I believe he does win in online betting.
*At the time that the article was made, Nyquist had not been taken out of the Belmont Stakes.