There will be several 'new shooters' to greet Kentucky Derby hero Nyquist in the Preakness starting gate on May 21. Of those, Stradivari is the lightest on experience but just might be the most intriguing upset possibility.
(Watch 2016 Preakness contender race videos on the Betmix YouTube channel)
The Todd Pletcher-trainee has but three races under his girth - a 4th-place run in an Aqueduct Maiden Special last November followed by pair of scintillating performances in Maiden Special and Allowance company by a combined 25 3/4 lengths.
In early December he dominated a mile and one sixteenth Maiden Special at Gulfstream Park by 11 1/4 lengths (watch below), pressing the early fractions before drawing off. It was a similar story on April 17 at Keenelenad where the final margin was an effortless 14 1/2 lengths in a nine-furlong Allowance. He earned a 100 Beyer Speed Figure for that effort, only three points off the top Beyers posted so far by Nyquist and Exaggerator (for what it's worth).
Keeneland track announcer Kurt Becker called the race this way:
"Stradivari is under no stress under Johnny V. at the top of the stretch and just keeps widening the margin here."
(Watch Stradivari's Keeneland Allowance win)
Stradivari is by the great stallion Medaglia d'Oro (sire of Rachel Alexandra, Songbird, etc.) out of the multiple graded stakes winner Bending Strings. While the Medaglia d'Oro's can excel at Classic distances (he's a grandson of Sadler's Wells), Bending Strings made all of her serious blacktype cash in one turn events.
Interestingly, Stradivari has never been favored in any of his races thus far and his sporadic racing schedule may have something to do with that. He certainly won't be favored in the Preakness either but he'll likely be part of the early pace at Pimlico, something certainly welcomed by closers like Exaggerator.
Betmix subscribers should be sure to check out the new Betmix PaceCast feature once Preakness entries are drawn to get a good idea of the probable pace scenario. Click here to find out more about PaceCast.
At least for now, Stradivari isn't among those already vanquished by Nyquist and he should have every opportunity to show if he's good enough to put his name on the famed Woodlawn Vase on May 21.