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Nyquist and Exaggerator Dominate Odds to Win Preakness Stakes

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Nyquist will be looking to become the third straight Kentucky Derby winner to race to victory at the Preakness Stakes when he hits the track on Saturday as a strong -175 betting favorite at sportsbooks monitored by

After claiming a 1 1/4-length victory at this year’s Kentucky Derby, paying out as +225 chalk, Nyquist remains undefeated in eight races ahead of Saturday afternoon’s Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.

The Canadian-owned colt will start from Post 3 in a reduced field of 11 featuring just three horses that ran in the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago.

Nyquist raced to victory at Churchill Downs after drawing the 13 Post, two positions over from Exaggerator, who finished second while sporting +800 odds.

Exaggerator has drawn Post 5 for Saturday’s race, and once again represents Nyquist’s closest competition on the Preakness Stakes odds, perched at +375 at the sportsbooks. The Keith Desormeaux-trained colt has been busy since making his debut last June, winning four of his 10 career races, including a dominating performance en route to a victory at the Santa Anita Derby as +400 chalk.

The Preakness Stakes marks the fourth head-to-head battle between the two favorites, with Exaggerator also finishing second in the San Vicente Stakes, and a disappointing fourth in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

Stradivari, a Todd Pletcher-trained Colt, makes just his third career start at Pimlico after claiming victory in his last outing in a Keeneland allowance race last month, and rounds out the front of the betting pack with +800 odds.

The remaining eight horses in the field all sport double-digit odds, led by Collected at +1600.

Collected starts from Post 7 in his first career Grade I race after picking up four wins in five races against Grade III competition, including victories in the Sunland Park Festival of Racing Stakes and the Lexington Stakes, both at Keeneland.

Cherry Wine makes his first appearance since finishing third in the Blue Grass Stakes, and will start on the rail sporting +2500 odds.

Uncle Lino, starting from Post 2, and Awesome Speed, who owns Post 4, are next on the Preakness Stakes odds, deadlocked at +3300, while Lani, a ninth-place finisher in his first North American start at the Kentucky Derby, trails as a distant +4000 longshot.

Lani is joined at the bottom of the odds by Fellowship, Laoban, and Abiding Star, who is undefeated in his last four starts, but has yet to compete in a race longer than 1-1/16 miles.

Native River gets wire-to-wire win in Cheltenham Gold Cup

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CHELTENHAM, England (AP) Native River delivered an exhibition in front-running to outlast favorite Might Bite in a thrilling duel to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Britain’s most prestigious jumps race, on Friday.

Ridden by champion jockey Richard Johnson, 5-1 shot Native River took the lead right from the start and was never passed in the race over 3 miles and 2 1/2 furlongs in front of a crowd of 70,000.

After they jumped the last fence, Native River and Might Bite were neck and neck, but Johnson got a kick out of the Colin Tizzard-trained horse on the uphill finish and Native River won by 4 1/2 lengths – a year after finishing third in the race.

For Johnson, it was a second victory in the Gold Cup – 18 years after his first on Looks Like Trouble.

“It’s been a long 18 years,” Johnson said. “To be honest, I was a passenger.

“The more I asked from him, the better he jumped.”

Might Bite’s handler, Nicky Henderson, was looking to become the first trainer to capture the Cheltenham Festival’s three signature races in the same year – the Champion Hurdle, the Champion Chase, and the Gold Cup.

It was Might Bite’s first defeat over fences, and Henderson said the heavy going didn’t do the horse any favors – especially against a rival who is a past winner of the Welsh National and the Hennessy Gold Cup

“It was the right thing to track Native River because no other horse got into the race, he had to be in the right place,” Henderson said of the 4-1 favorite.

“On better ground, stamina wouldn’t have been an issue. But in that ground you have to work so much harder. The winner is a Welsh National winner and the reason I’ve never won that race is because I can’t find horses that go in that ground.”

Native River won his owners 369,822 pounds ($515,000).

Anibale Fly, a 33-1 shot, was third.

Jockey Ruby Walsh to miss rest of Cheltenham Festival

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CHELTENHAM, England (AP) Jockey Ruby Walsh will miss the remainder of the Cheltenham Festival after aggravating a leg injury when falling off his horse during the RSA Insurance Novices’ chase on Wednesday.

Walsh, the most successful jockey in the festival’s history with 52 wins, had only recently returned to competition after a four-month layoff due to a broken leg. He was taken to a hospital for X-rays and his sister Jennifer said in a statement that “unfortunately he has aggravated a recent leg injury and will see his consultant in Dublin next week for further assessment.”

Walsh had been set to ride Killultagh Vic in Friday’s Gold Cup.

On Wednesday’s second day of the festival, Altior extended his unbeaten record over jumps to 13 in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase.

Altior had a slow start eventually powered seven lengths clear of the Willie Mullins-trained Min.

It was also a good day for trainer Gordon Elliott who took home three wins, headlined by Samcro in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.

The 8-11 favorite beat Black Op by two and three-quarter lengths.