Opening Day at Pimlico: Spring Has Finally Sprung!

April 18, 2009 | Gary Quill

Let’s put the problems that surround the Maryland thoroughbred horse racing industry and its tracks owner, Magna Entertainment Corporation aside for at least one day. Today should be a cause for celebration across the Baltimore metropolitan area. For today live thoroughbred horse racing has come “home” to historic Pimlico Race Course, be it only for 20 glorious racing days. Local horse racing enthusiasts view Opening Day at Pimlico as a barometer that Spring has officially arrived.   

Over the next six weeks, Pimlico will conduct live racing Thursday through Sunday, headlined by the 134th running of the $1 million Preakness Stakes (Grade I), the middle jewel of the Triple Crown, on May 16th. The 20-day stand will conclude on Saturday, May 23rd. First post for 17 days of the meet will be 1:10pm with adjustments on Kentucky Derby Day (May 2nd; 12:15pm), Black-Eyed Susan Day (May 15th; 12:15pm) and on Preakness Day (10:15am).

The meet will feature the debut of a new wager, The Super High 5, where bettors must pick the first five finishers in exact order in the last race at Pimlico each day. If no one hits it, a carryover will build each day. This exotic wager replaces the Pick 6.

The Marketing Dept. at the Maryland Jockey Club should take advantage of the local baseball fans frustration toward the Orioles pitching woes and change the 2009 Pimlico slogan to, “Our starters go the distance”. Bah-Dah-Cha! Well, here’s how I intend to do my part in promoting the sport of horse racing. For each day of this 20 day meet, I will post a blog offering up my opinions, as I have done below. As an added item, I’ll feature what I call “SHOW Parlay Play of the Day”. I’ll start with a mythical $100 bankroll, using $20 of it to start the parlay. I figure the odds of sustaining a single SHOW parlay play for 20 consecutive racing days is slim. Therefore, we’ll have a reserve to tap into if/when a play loses.

A note for novices, when you bet to SHOW, it means your horse must finish 1st, 2nd or 3rd. Your payoff is the price posted under the SHOW column. A parlay means whatever the return is on your wager; you bet that entire amount on the next bet (i.e. “let it ride”).  


For the Pimlico Spring Meet, Day 1 (Saturday, April 18th)…


Best Bet:   Haley’s Lolipop  (# 3; 5th race Hookedonthefeelin Stakes; 7-2)

Trainer Steve Klesaris’ only entry on the card will have Rosie Napravnik in the irons. This runner is the only one which displays a Closing kick while her eight foes will be setting a hot pace in this 5 furlong dash on the grass. Haley’s Lolipop 3rd place effort in her 2009 debut appears to have been a nice freshener for a big race here.

Longshot:    Rikim (# 11; 7th race on the turf; 15-1)


Fresh off of scoring his second career victory in 14 starts in his last outing on the dirt, he returns to the sod where he has his only other victory in 10 attempts, but that one came in his only start at Pimlico and at this race distance (1 mile). Though he jumps in class from his dirt race, the $10k Claiming tag is the lowest level he’s been offered in a grass contest.      


SHOW Parlay available bankroll: $100When starting a SHOW parlay, you’re looking for a good return to establish a base to build on which also means it is your riskiest selection. As a rule, we should find a large field (8 or more starters) and avoid the favorite. With this being said, let’s go! 


SHOW Parlay Play of the Day:  $20 on Helen Says (# 2; 3rd race; 7-2)This 5 year old mare has hit the board in 15 of her 25 career starts, 6 out of 9 at this distance (6 furlongs) and 2 for 2 over the Pimlico dirt oval. Her back-class is by far the best among this group. Add the fact that jock Oscar Mancilla wins at a 24% clip when aboard trainer David Lezell runners.

It’s a beautiful day to go to Opening Day at Old Hilltop. If you have other plans, then make it a point to go on one of the other 19 days. You might actually find yourself having fun. Good Luck!