Mother Nature threw a wrench into my Black Eyed-Susan Day at Pimlico. At 11am on Friday as the rain pounded down on my deck like the rush of humanity onto the Pimlico Infield, I began to have second thoughts. The rain forced a couple dozen scratches, races were taken off the turf and the thought of the trip from Bel Air to northwest Baltimore and back clinched it for me. Stay at home; watch the races on ESPN2 while betting them via twinspires.com.
Here’s how I see the 133rd running of the Preakness Stakes playing out, listed in my predicted order of finish…
1st - # 7 Big Brown (1-2): Shocker! Let’s face it, even if this colt runs to 85% of his ability he should win going away against the group of challengers assembled here. At least “on paper” that’s how it looks. But as my high school JV basketball coach once told our team, “On paper you should be this team… but the game isn’t played on paper”. The same holds true here. The Derby winner could go off at 1-9 odds. For you $2 bettors, you’ll get 10 cents or a 5% profit on your investment. My tip would be to buy $2 WIN tickets, cross your fingers that he wins and can go on to win the Triple Crown. Then you can sell those uncashed $2 WIN ticket on eBay for a slightly higher profit.
2nd – # 8 Kentucky Bear (15-1): He’s been the only starter who has spent significant time on the Pimlico grounds. I stood right next to him outside of the Stakes Barn as he grazed. Physically he looks great and his trainer has not been shy in trumpeting his praises. His bloodlines and jockey might be his Achilles Heel. Not that either is a negative. It’s just that the distance might be his absolute upper limits and this might be Jamie Theriot’s first ride around the Pimlico oval?!
3rd - # 6 Racecar Rhapsody (30-1): Might be sitting on the race of his life, but he’ll also be carrying 9 lbs. more than he did in his last effort. A friend of mine once told me, “Adding 5 lbs. can stop a train”. His speed figures continue to climb and if the track continues to favor “stretch runners” as it did on Friday afternoon, he’ll have a good chance to get a piece of the purse.
4th - # 4 Yankee Bravo (15-1): He caught my eye two months ago when he started his career on the turf then onto the synthetic tracks. His only dirt race was an impressive one (3rd behind Pyro in the LA Derby). My only knock on him is that a 1 1/16 mile might be his best distance. He had every opportunity to win the Santa Anita Derby in his last race, but flattened out in the stretch. Hopefully I’m wrong and he’ll move forward off of that effort.
5th - # 11 Giant Moon (30-1): The speed of the race, who if given the lead could carry it deep into the stretch. I think Gayego and Big Brown may play it safe and want to settle in behind the leader(s). If that scenario plays out, only one other colt (Tres Borrachos) would possibly be up there challenging for the early lead. Yeah, and if “ifs and butts were candies and nuts…”. Where there’s a will, Dominguez will find a way.
6th - # 12 Gayego (8-1): Everybody who jumped on his bandwagon for the Derby (I wasn’t one of them) seem to think he’s still the second best colt in this field. Not sure what tipped off trainer Paulo Lobo to decide so late on entering him, but I’m still not a believer. He’ll be the best of the rest not getting a paycheck.
7th - # 13 Hey Byrn (20-1): He’s a nice colt who will blossom into a Graded Stakes winner one day, but it won’t be on Preakness Day. No #13 has ever won the Preakness. His owner (Beatrice Oxenberg) turned 87 this week and this colt is named after her late husband. It makes for a great story, but he’s running for a minor share here.
8th - # 9 Stevil (30-1): Seeing Nick Zito hanging out around the Stakes Barn brought back memories of Louis Quatorze surprising Preakness victory. But usually when Nick has a “hot horse”, he brings them in early. He didn’t roll into town with this one until Wednesday evening. Not early enough for me.
9th - # 2 Tres Borrachos (30-1): His only shot is to be there early and hope for a slow pace. Odds of that happening are about as slim as the Orioles chances of getting to the World Series this year.
10th – # 10 Riley Tucker (30-1): His final workout for this race was 1:06 going 5 furlongs… the slowest of 14 that morning. Arabians workout faster than that!
11th – # 1 Macho Again (20-1): The Derby Trial winner will find the competition a bit more stiff. About half way through the jock will just pack it in and save him for another day.
12th – # 3 Icabad Crane (30-1): In way over his head.
13th – # 5 Behindatthebar (10-1): Was scratched on Friday morning due to a bruised foot.
Based on my analysis of the Preakness, I’ll play…
$10 EXACTA #7 on top of #6 and #8
$2 TRIFECTA keying # 7 (Big Brown) with
# 4, # 6, # 8, # 11
Recapping Black Eyed-Susan Day (May 16th) of the Pimlico Spring Meet …
Pimlico Special, Student Council (# 3; 9th race; 10-1) ran exactly as I pictured he would. All of the moons and stars aligned. That is, there was enough speed up front early on to slow the final fractions down enough to make Student Council appear to be flying in the final furlong to score a one length victory at 7-1, paying $16.40 to WIN.
Black Eyed-Susan, Pious Ashley (# 1A; 11th race; 8-1) ran a game race, was in perfect position challenging for the lead turning for home, but came up empty in the stretch when she needed more in the tank.
Here are my special selections for Preakness Day (May 17th) of the Pimlico Spring Meet…
Best Bet: Brush On By (# 7; 1st race; 9-2)
There is a ton of early speed in this contest whereas this guy has a nice closing kick. Even though 6 furlongs is a bit shorter than he typically likes, I think we’ll see a number of runners wilting in the final furlong and see #7 just getting up for the victory.
Longshot: Media Play (# 2; 2nd race on the turf; 6-1)
This is an iffy pick because they might decide to take just this one (non-stakes event) off the turf to preserve it for the stakes races later in the day? If they don’t, then this Cozzene offspring should improve in his second lifetime turf start for today’s host (Stronach Stable).
Good Luck with your selections today!