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

After Nyquist, the Kentucky Derby winner, landed the No. 3 post for the Preakness in a blind draw Wednesday, O’Neill, the trainer, 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 3-5 favorite among 11 horses in Saturday’s race.

His selection as the best horse in the field was justified, according to Bob Baffert, a Hall of Fame trainer who will saddle Collected.

“I’d probably be surprised if he didn’t win,” Baffert said about Nyquist. “He’s going to be tough to beat.”

Secretariat started from the 3-hole to win the 1973 Preakness, but California Chrome in 2014 was the only horse to win from the third post since 1993.

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 his hopes of winning the Triple Crown. A year ago, American Pharoah was the 12th Triple Crown winner and the first since Affirmed in 1978.

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

“Being that Nyquist is speed oriented, he’ll probably get pressed from 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, but Desormeaux hopes things will be different Saturday.

“We respect what he’s done,” Desormeaux said, “but we’re hopeful of turning the tables.”

Stradavari, at 8-1, was the third choice, as selected by the Pimlico track handicapper, Keith Feustle.


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