Will the Preakness Pace Be as Fast as the Kentucky Derby?

142 Kentucky Derby Overhead 2

Start of the 142nd Kentucky Derby.

The early pace of the Kentucky Derby set up pretty close to how I laid it out, with Danzing Candy doing what one-dimensional frontrunners do best, setting a hot pace and failing. But, Danzing Candy went much faster than I had anticipated and went against the recent trend of slower earlier fractions since the introduction of the Kentucky Derby points system.

How will the Preakness be different? The early pace here will more in line with the trend of recent years. There is a slim likelihood of any of the four need-the-lead type horses here running a half-mile time in less than 46 seconds. There will be a mad rush for the lead, but I expect it to be a little slower.

Below is my pace chart and my most likely pace scenario analysis for the 2016 Preakness:

Preakness Pace Chart

The most likely pace scenario here sets up for a Strong E/P or Strong Presser (P).

FIRST CALL
Half-Mile Projection – :46.3 

The race sets up with a quartet of frontrunners heading out for the early lead in Abiding Star, Laoban, Uncle Lino and Awesome Speed. Both Uncle Lino and Awesome Speed are strong frontrunners, yet the pace here will be faster than they are comfortable handling, which will cause them to spend a lot of energy early.

Uncle Lino’s last effort at Los Alamitos is deceptive. The track-to-track par adjustment between there and Pimlico is a couple of seconds. Laoban and Abiding Star are both one-dimensional frontrunners and will likely run each other out of contention. Nyquist and Stradivari both figure to be just off the pace and pressing these frontrunners early as well. Collected should be about three to five lengths back at this point with Exaggerator a few lengths off of him. Fellowship, Cherry Wine and Lani will be bringing up the rear early.

SECOND CALL
3/4-Mile Projection – 1:11:3 

By the second call, I expect the quartet of early speed to have expended too much energy. Uncle Lino and Laoban will hold on a little longer than Abiding Star and Awesome Speed. Nyquist should be on the lead or close to it with Stradivari right with him. Collected will still be in about the same position, running flat. Exaggerator starts making his move here and will be closing the gap. Cherry Wine and Fellowship are about to start their runs as Lani lags behind the field.

STRETCH CALL 

In the stretch, Nyquist and Stradivari are distancing themselves from the field. Exaggerator is making his move but will have some ground to make up on the pair up front. The quartet of speed is still moving backwards through the field and Collected is grinding away to hold position. Cherry Wine starts gaining some ground, as does Fellowship. Lani is likely out of contention at this point. While the closers should get cleaner trips here they had in the Kentucky Derby, the strength of Nyquist and Stradivari will be too much for them to overcome.

FINAL 

As the horses cross the wire, I expect Nyquist to have outrun Stradivari and have held off the late surge of Exaggerator. Cherry Wine should be finishing strong along with Fellowship. Collected could find himself in the top half of the field since the early speed horses are continuing to lose ground.

In my less likely pace scenarios, Nyquist still showed an edge in most cases with the configuration of the other finishers changing. While no one can account for a troubled trip, it seems likely that Nyquist will grab the second leg of the Triple Crown.

Given his 3/5 morning line, finding value in this race will be tough. In most of my less likely pace scenarios it was generally the same group of horses finding themselves in the top spots – Nyquist, Exaggerator, Stradivari, Cherry Wine, Fellowship, and Collected. In a few cases that projected a slower pace, both Laoban and Uncle Lino found themselves in contention for the bottom of the superfecta.

Ray Wallin
Ray Wallin is a licensed civil engineer and part-time handicapper who has had a presence on the Web since 2000 for various sports and horse racing websites and through his personal blog. Introduced to the sport over the course of a misspent teenage summer at Monmouth Park by his Uncle Dutch, a professional gambler, he quickly fell in love with racing and has been handicapping for over 25 years.

Ray’s background in engineering, along with his meticulous nature and fascination with numbers, parlay into his ability to analyze data; keep records; notice emerging trends; and find new handicapping angles and figures. While specializing in thoroughbred racing, Ray also handicaps harness racing, Quarter Horse racing, baseball, football, hockey, and has been rumored to have calculated the speed and pace ratings on two squirrels running through his backyard.

Ray likes focusing on pace and angle plays while finding the middle ground between the art and science of handicapping. When he is not crunching numbers, Ray enjoys spending time with his family, cheering on his alma mater (Rutgers University), fishing, and playing golf.

Ray’s blog, which focuses on his quest to make it to the NHC Finals while trying to improve his handicapping abilities can be found at www.jerseycapper.blogspot.com Ray can also be found on Twitter (@rayw76) and can be reached via email at ray.wallin@live.com.

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