Thursday, November 23, 2017
Sports

Big favorite Nyquist gets desired Preakness post

RECOMMENDED READING


BALTIMORE — Doug O'Neill couldn't have done better if he had picked Nyquist's post position himself.

After Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist landed the No. 3 post for the Preakness in a blind draw Wednesday, O'Neill looked like a man with a winning lottery ticket.

"The 3 is exactly what I wanted," O'Neill said. "We're very optimistic that we're going to break good and get into position."

Unbeaten in eight races, Nyquist was made the overwhelming 3-5 favorite among 11 horses in Saturday's race.

His selection as the best horse in the field was justified, said Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who will saddle Collected, who didn't race in the Derby on May 7.

"I'd probably be surprised if (Nyquist) didn't win," Baffert said. "He's going to be tough to beat."

Starting from the 13th post position in the Derby, Nyquist won the 20-horse race by 11/4 lengths over Exaggerator. Nyquist can expect far less traffic against a smaller field at the Preakness, which covers 13/16 miles at Pimlico Race Course.

"He's a very mature horse that has speed away from the gate," O'Neill said. "And he doesn't like to lose."

O'Neill enters the Preakness seeking to keep alive his hopes of becoming the second straight Triple Crown winner. A year ago, American Pharoah became the 12th Triple Crown winner and the first since Affirmed in 1978.

Exaggerator has the best odds behind Nyquist at 3-1, as selected by Pimlico handicapper Keith Feustle. The horse, trained by Keith Desormeaux, drew the fifth post position.

"Being that Nyquist is speed oriented, he'll probably get pressed from the outside," Desormeaux said. "It may make him go a little faster. That could be tactically advantageous for us."

Exaggerator has finished behind Nyquist four times. Desormeaux said he doesn't want his jockey brother, Kent Desormeaux, to change tactics from the Derby. He simply wants Exaggerator to find a comfortable groove and run as close to the lead as the Hall of Fame jockey sees fit.

Japanese import Lani is the only other holdover from the Derby, where he finished ninth after struggling to compose himself in the paddock before the race. He'll start from the sixth post at 30-1.

From there, the field consists of fresh competitors looking to pull a startling upset.

Stradivari, at 8-1, was the third choice. He has the No. 11 post and is trained by Todd Pletcher, who runs horses at Tampa Bay Downs in Oldsmar and who is making his first Preakness appearance since 2011 with lightly raced Stradivari.

"We think he's a very good horse," Pletcher said Tuesday. "It's ambitious, but we think he deserves a chance. It might be that with only three lifetime starts, he's not quite ready for this big a jump, but we think it's worth a try, as long as he shows up and runs well, comes out of it well and continues to move forward."

O'Neill said Stradivari is the fresh horse that scares him, because of his win at Keeneland in April and because Pletcher is always a formidable competitor.

Baffert is looking for his seventh Preakness victory after last year's Triple Crown run with American Pharoah. Collected will start from the No. 7 post as a 10-1 choice in the morning line.

"This is like, take a shot here," Baffert said Wednesday morning. "We won't see any Belmont, nothing like that. It's a one-shot deal, so let's see what he does."

Comments
Irish, Gamecocks potentially await USF women this weekend

Irish, Gamecocks potentially await USF women this weekend

The extended Thanksgiving weekend is upon us, with Christmas on deck. A season of bountiful dining, though some are wondering if Jose Fernandez has bitten off a bit more than he can chew.One thing's certain: There's not a cream puff or cupcake to be ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Days after a high fever, Jon Mott wins his fifth Times Turkey Trot 10K

Days after a high fever, Jon Mott wins his fifth Times Turkey Trot 10K

CLEARWATER — On Tuesday, Jon Mott had a 103-degree fever. That was not enough to keep him from maintaining his dominance Thursday at the 39th Tampa Bay Times Turkey Trot.The former Northeast standout added to his record with his fifth title in the ev...
Updated: 3 hours ago
New Weeki Wachee basketball coach transitions from years on college sidelines

New Weeki Wachee basketball coach transitions from years on college sidelines

WEEKI WACHEE — Mark Lee was looking for an accomplished coach to take over Weeki Wachee High’s boys basketball team. Not only did he find what he was searching for, but he may have gone above and beyond with the hiring of Rick Scruggs.The 30-year vet...
Published: 11/23/17

Koetter says Bucs not distracted by Jameis Winston’s off-field issue

The Bucs are 1-0 since news broke last Friday of Jameis Winston being accused by an Uber driver of groping her during a ride in March of 2016.That's really all the evidence coach Dirk Koetter needs to say the issue has not been a distraction to the t...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Presenting the 2017 Sports Turkey of the Year

Presenting the 2017 Sports Turkey of the Year

Happy Turkey Day!Today is a day of tradition.The Macy’s parade. Turkey and stuffing. The Lions and Cowboys.And our annual "Turkey of the Year.’’It’s a tradition started by my former colleague at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the brilliant columnist P...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Nikita Kucherov really does admire Patrick Kane

Nikita Kucherov really does admire Patrick Kane

TAMPA — Lightning wing Nikita Kucherov has watched plenty of film on Blackhawks star Patrick Kane.Kucherov marveled how the 2015-16 league MVP uses deception to "hide" from defenders. He noticed how patient Kane was with the puck, how well he passed ...
Published: 11/22/17
Lightning beats Blackhawks in OT

Lightning beats Blackhawks in OT

TAMPA — The Lightning entered Wednesday’s game against the Blackhawks determined to avoid its first losing streak of the season. And it did in dramatic fashion, with Brayden Point’s power-play goal in overtime lifting it to a 3-2 victory. "A big boun...
Published: 11/22/17

Joe Smith’s takeaways from Wednesday’s Lightning-Blackhawks game

Every Lightning-Blackhawks game at Amalie Arena has a good representation of red in the stands. And Wednesday’s matchup was no exception, with a large contingent of transplants and travelers. "It feels like half the city of Chicago is traveling down ...
Published: 11/22/17

Thursday’s sports on TV/radio

TodayCollege footballMississippi at Mississippi State7:30 p.m.ESPNCollege basketballMissouri vs. Long Beach State11:30 a.m.ESPN2Tennessee vs. Villanova12:30 p.m.ESPNSt. John’s vs. Oregon State2 p.m.ESPNUPortland vs. North Carolina2:30 p.m.ESPNNorth C...
Published: 11/22/17
Niederreiter stays hot for Wild in win

Niederreiter stays hot for Wild in win

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Nino Niederreiter and Mikael Granlund each scored two goals to lead the Wild to a 5-4 victory over the Sabres on Wednesday night. Tyler Ennis also scored, and Mikko Koivu and Ryan Suter each had two assists as the Wild snapped a two-g...
Published: 11/22/17